SIMBIO: for energy efficient buildings

Sketch placed on site

The construction world will have to make profound changes with the emergence in the near future of low energy buildings (LEB), a transitional phase before the arrival in force – somewhat later – of positive energy buildings (PEB). LEB are due in 2012. Eight years later PEB will take centre stage. “In both cases construction professionals will be faced with very much stricter quality requirements and a complete break with the construction methods used to date, declares Jean-Christophe Visier, CSTB Energy Director. Fortunately the digital tools for designing, building and operating the structures have improved considerably. Used wisely, they can support these changes effectively.” And ensure that buildings with a high energy performance on paper actually do perform when built. In theory at least, because this is where the shoe pinches. However well they perform, the software packages available to professionals rarely intercommunicate. Which is why it is so difficult for the different players involved in the process of construction of a building to work collaboratively and across disciplines, and yet this is the only way to offer a performance guarantee to their clients.

From design to operation

With the support of ADEME and PUCA, the CSTB, CEA and CNRS have combined to launch the SIMBIO research programme. The objective of this project is to develop research and development work which will enable construction professionals to be offered innovative software suites so that they can complete successfully the whole of a real estate project which meets the new energy requirements. From A to Z, i.e. from design through to operation of the structure. ”In July 2008, in association with a group of industry professionals, we began examining the project specification, continues Jean-Christophe Visier. It includes a state of the art analysis of what is currently happening on our research subject, definition of the needs of professionals and the work to be carried out under SIMBIO. From 2010 other players will be brought into the project, namely clients, consulting engineers, major contractors, operators, software companies etc.” The preliminary results of this survey have already highlighted three specific points: the crucial need for integration between the many existing IT tools, the benefit of designing a digital model to form a link between the different professionals involved in a given project and the need to develop tools to take account of factors such as electricity consumption or local energy production.

First sketch with Google Sketchup
Estimate of the renewable energy potential of the building according to the environment (sun, screening by surrounding buildings...)
IFC digital model of the building, in the summary/detailed design phase

Unity is strength!

SIMBIO provides an opportunity for scientific teams whose work has up to now been very segmented to work jointly on a well defined “building” problem. This alliance of three major French research organisations is a mark of their intention to join forces in order to go further and faster to meet a market expectation. The CNRS contributes its upstream conceptual research view, the CEA has acknowledged experience in complex digitization projects (e.g. in the automotive industry) and the CSTB has a well-earned reputation as a building "packager".