By Sheila Kim
We offered a quick take last week on just a handful of top stories from the show floor of the Washington Convention Center, site of Greenbuild 2015. Here are nine more pieces of news, from updates to popular architectural tools to new products and previews of what’s to come.
Its Architect 2016 boasts simultaneous project sharing to enable architects and interior designers to streamline their workflows. But more important — for designing sustainable structures — is the software’s Energos module, which uses Passivhaus calculation methods to estimate energy efficiency right inside your Vectorworks Architect file as the design evolves. Also notable: improvements within the program’s Renderworks module such as an upgraded MAXON Cinema 4D render engine, Caustic Capabilities with refraction of light through translucent surfaces, and Ambient Occlusion for more realistic shadow, among other features.
The software developer trumpeted advancements in its portfolio of energy and water analysis tools — enabling architects to make significant decisions affecting building performance earlier on in the design process, even before engineers get hold of the plans. Autodesk Insight 360 visualizes energy, heating, cooling, lighting, and solar performance in real time directly from Revit and FormIt projects. This powerful update also boasts a more intuitive and attractive user interface, to boot. Insight 360 is now available to maintenance and desktop subscription Revit customers and FormIt 360 Pro users.
REDUCING WATER USE
3. Niagara Conservation
Quite possibly one of the most innovative high-efficiency toilet manufacturers right now, Niagara Conservation hasn’t generated as much hoopla against the designer bathroom giants perhaps because of its traditional-looking products. At Greenbuild, the company previewed a new one-piece unit that might become a game-changer. This sleeker toilet, slated for official release at KBIS in January, features Niagara’s exclusive vacuum-assist technology to reduce water use as much as 15,600 gallons per year compared to other 3.5 GPF toilets. The way it works is, after each flush, water fills the tank and forces air to the top of the chamber through the transfer tube and into the trapway. This pressurizes the trapway so that, the next time the flush is depressed, suction force pulls the wastewater into the trapway — decreasing the amount of water needed to flush.
THEY’RE ALSO A CLIENT
One of the largest building product manufacturers in the world not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Using its own portfolio of brands, Saint-Gobain completed its North American headquarters in Malvern, Pa., this year. The manufacturer displayed all of the products prominently used in this efficient “living laboratory” during Greenbuild expo including SageGlass electrochromic glazing, CertainTeed’s acoustical ceiling panels and tiles, and Saint-Gobain glass and performance plastics. In all, the headquarters showcases 40 Saint-Gobain products (eight on the exterior and 32 in the interior).
HARNESSING SUN POWER AND LIGHT
The company’s SkyVault, which collects sunlight through a roof opening and uses reflectivity to distribute that light into interior spaces, has a new dimmer. This butterfly baffle design utilizes Solatube’s Spectralight Infinity material to maximize light transfer when in the open position and flare-free transition to dark as it closes. At 5.5 seconds, operation is approximately 42-percent faster than previous Solatube dimmers. The company has developed this function to create the same design flexibilities that artificial illumination affords, such as dimming lights over spectator seating while other arrays illuminate the court.
6. Acuity Brands
Lighting manufacturer Acuity Brands previously entered the sun-well daylighting arena with its Sunoptics LightFlex product line. With dim-to-warm and tunable-white lighting gaining traction, particularly because of circadian rhythm discussions, Acuity has added an optional color temperature-shifting lens that changes the light from a more bluish tint to a warm 3,800-Kelvin one. LightFlex boasts a prismatic optic sphere for increased daylight conveyance and MIRO-Silver-lined interior light well, which offers 98-percent reflectivity.
Kohler does solar — really. Before it became the mega brand for kitchen and bath fixtures and furniture, Kohler was actually in the power equipment business and continues to be. The company showed its enCUBE Generator, a battery-powered indoor/outdoor inverter that provides 1,440 watts of continuous power while producing zero emissions. What’s extra impressive is that, in addition to 120V AC charging, it can be charged using solar panels. The generator comes with 120V AC and 12V DC outlets as well as USB ports.
SHADING FOR EXPANSIVE SKYLIGHTS
Draper’s new Topspin is a retractable system well-suited to expansive skylight glazing. It consists of a series of fabric panels connected to spring rollers, can be manufactured to more than 10 feet wide by 40 feet long, and can be installed on exterior or interior horizontal, vertical, or sloped glazing to reduce solar heat gain and glare.
DYNAMIC GLASS NEWS
The largest dynamic glass in the industry was unveiled during the show by View. The electrochromic glass can be produced up to six by 10 feet, providing wider viewing areas without obstruction from busbars and, therefore, more design possibilities.