New tool streamlines green building design in Ontario

The Compass tool will streamline the design phase of building development, and accelerate the understanding of energy-saving solutions. Photo ©
The Compass tool will streamline the design phase of building development, and accelerate the understanding of energy-saving solutions.
Photo ©

A newly launched tool seeks to improve energy literacy in Ontario and aid construction professionals to make better use of green building designs to reach the goal of net-zero carbon emissions. The EnergyCompass, or Compass, is a free data visualization platform which will streamline energy benchmarking and reporting during the design phase of building development projects.  This tool seeks to accelerate the understanding and adoption of energy-saving solutions.

Users will be able upload energy models to Compass. It will automatically extract more than 400 variables and complete the submission requirements for six building standards, including the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), TGS, and Ontario Building Code (OBC) within a few seconds. The data visualization platform will allow users to see the modelled building against a database, which will then inform the design.  

“Previously, data available through energy simulation studies has not been leveraged en masse to analyze performance trends or to benchmark similar buildings to improve energy performance,” said Mike Williams, principal at RWDI, that developed the program in partnership with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) and Toronto’s Architecture 2030 District. Compass aims to improve conservation program delivery, and reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from every proposed building development in Ontario.

Compass represents the next progression of the live database called ecoMetrics, initiated by Diamond Schmitt Architects and developed in conjunction with RWDI. Both tools translate the extensive data of building energy simulation models into easily understood graphic presentation.

Once users have uploaded a project, they can begin to see how their portfolio of work compares to the industry at large, using a set of data visualizations. This tool enables the comparison of energy use across the Compass database. It allows people to see projects that were uploaded by other users. The graphics also provide an overview of a project’s anticipated performance, and can be used for initial quality control (QC) reviews. For example, users can quickly query if the end-use profile of their project aligns with the general trend of a like-portfolio of projects, using the visualization filters. This can help with result’s accuracy or, in cases where there is not alignment, a strong point of focus to begin troubleshooting. Users can also look at trends in a portfolio of projects that achieved this design objective, exploring what design characteristics may be most important.

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