Contextual simulation studies prove to be super beneficial especially during early phase design and design development in campus projects. This article discusses how you can perform various environmental and energy-focused simulations using cove.tool.

Scope of Study:

  • This article discusses a master planning project for urban redevelopment in Downtown, Pittsburgh, PA.

  • The study includes 8 buildings (both NC+RENO) and the building use breakdown is 30% Retail, 20% Hotel, and 50% Office.

  • By the end, readers should have an idea of understanding environmental feedback for their multi-building project, generate daylight and energy benchmarks for each structure, and iterate between multiple configurations (if desired) with plugin export tips.

  • Authors Note: This article will only focus on the types of studies that can be accomplished per design proposal. For side-by-side or iterative comparisons, check the Impact of Context on School of Public Health Project case study, or the How to do a massing study tutorial.

Shade Benefit:

It is essential to assess the impact of physical obstructions and their effect on access to direct solar radiation. Excessive shading may affect landscaping, hikes in unanticipated energy bills, and lessen the enjoyability of rooftop/outdoor spaces. Shadow studies can provide insight not only into how the new building will connect to the existing ones but also how future strategies like parks, PV installations, and more may be implemented. Learn more about the shadow tool here.

In cove.tool the annual 'shadow' analysis can be simulated for different times of the day for optimal solar PV and landscaping strategies. Create a similar graphic by recording the hourly shadow timelapse with a gif generator.

Solar Radiation:

The solar energy (irradiance) analysis investigates the thermal qualities of the sun as they fall and diffuse on the building envelope. This information can inform the selection of shading devices, the design for optimal solar energy, and encourage methods for passive heating and cooling. More on Radiation analysis here.

Using cove.tool, this study can be performed by importing the building massing blocks on the web app and running the solar radiation analysis.

Sunlight Hours:

Light enables the use and enjoyment of our homes and workplaces, allowing people to live and work in safety and comfort. In some specific building types, like hospitals, schools, or nurseries, sunlight is considered highly beneficial and relegated to common spaces and areas of respite. With cove.tool, you can estimate how many sunlight hours your master plan massing will receive throughout the day. Landscaping strategies, placement of amenities, parking, and more can be determined with the help of this feature. Also where WWR% is limited, identifying top sunlight hour zones and help determine the placement of glazing. More on the Sun Hours analysis here.

In cove.tool, one can calculate the number of hours of direct sunlight received by the input geometry using the sunlight hours analysis.

For users attempting to analyze street-level conditions for sunlight hours or radiation analysis, can import their site floor as Roofs through the Plugin export. Only Roofs will have planar or inclined heat maps displayed onto them (walls, windows, shading devices, and floor objects will not). To get a granular map result, try breaking up the site ground object into a 10'x10' or 20'x20' grid. This may take longer to compute but will still complete in a fraction of the time of traditional site analysis tools. Models which follow this approach should not be used for energy/benchmarking results due to their overestimation of heat gain on the roof.

Spatial Daylight Autonomy (sDA):

Early-stage daylight modeling allows our users to quickly understand the impact of daylight access inside the building envelope. Research highlights the benefit of daylight in health, happiness, productivity, and good daylight is a big selling point for developers. For those uninitiated, sDA is the percentage of floor space in which a minimum light level can be met completely by natural light. (The percentage of floor area that receives at least 300 lux only from daylight for at least 50% of the annual occupied hours (8am-6pm) in a year.)

In cove.tool, the sDA for a master planning project would be calculated individually for all buildings in the project. By doing so, users can also generate accurate energy and benchmarking results for the following section.

For plugin exports, import the primary building through the regular cove.tool views, and the remaining massing study context building through the "shading device view."

Annual Sunlight Exposure (ASE):

Also known as the Glare Analysis, ASE helps predict increased cooling loads, area where over daylight will become an issue, and where glare mitigation strategies should be explored. In the visualization, green is passing and all other colors are the degree of failure where exposure will occur for a majority of the occupied hours.

ASE represents the percentage of space in which the light level from direct sun alone exceeds a predefined threshold for some quantity of hours in a year. (The percentage of floor area (%) that receives at least 1000 LUX only from daylight for at least 250 hours of the annual occupied hours in a year.)

In cove.tool, just like sDA, the ASE for a master planning project would be calculated individually for all buildings in the project.

Benchmarking for Energy, Total EUI:

cove.tool can be used to gauge the Baseline EUI for building masses in your project and generate energy targets for early benchmarking. Of all the previous studies, EUI and Energy Benchmarking is the least common for campus studies, however it may be the most important to generate. Energy Use Intensity (EUI) refers to the energy required to operate and sustain the project once it's occupied. By calculating the energy a building consumes annually, architects can better predict the projects' cost and environmental impact as it is directly linked to a building's energy consumption.

In cove.tool, you would have to individually evaluate buildings for the total EUI and benchmarks for a master planning project. Having a project that performs better than the national average is proof of your building's energy efficiency.

Knowing one's EUI is especially important for design teams who are setting the design parameters and boundaries for each building to be distributed to different design teams. Requiring energy targets can help teams ensure minimized carbon emissions and save owners and tenants millions in costs.

Climate Studies:

The most cost-optimal way to create a high-performance project is by exploiting passive strategies by using optimal massing, glazing percentages, orientation, natural ventilation, thermal mass, etc before moving on to take steps on the active strategies.

cove.tool automatically runs 6 most commonly used passive strategies to determine their impact on thermal comfort.

Happy Modeling!!

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