How to Achieve “Green” Infrastructure Goals with Analysis and Simulation

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Just as our access to life-supporting resources is declining, our consumption of life supporting resources is on the rise. It’s a troubling dichotomy that is leading to increased policy making and regulation that puts pressure on federal, state, and local agencies to take action.

The GSA, for example, requires that fossil fuel energy consumption be reduced by 100% in its buildings by 2030. Cities are also taking action. C40 Cities (a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change) has doubled climate action in the last two years, reporting a total of over 8,000 actions to reduce emissions. Fortunately for us, North American cities are leading the way – take, for example, our nation’s capital.

Through its Sustainable DC initiative, Washington, D.C. is committed to becoming “the greenest, healthiest, and most livable city in the U.S. by 2032.” Led by the Department of Energy & Environment and the Office of Planning, Sustainable DC is a collaborative effort involving the input and participation of thousands of members of the District community. The graphic below shows just two elements of its aggressive plan to green D.C.

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A Test Lab on a City Scale

The key to these sustainability initiatives is the DowntownDC ecoDistrict, a 138 block area that includes 550 office, residential, and retail buildings. This area essentially functions as a lab to test technologies that promote better energy, water, waste, and transportation management in building construction and maintenance practices. According to the site, “The sheer size and number of buildings [in the ecoDistrict] means that sustainability at the building level offers a huge impact on DowntownDC.”

So what role does the ecoDistrict play? Well, it’s not just about implementing green technologies and practices. The ecoDistrict is critical to the city’s efforts in determining how the right mixture of green infrastructure technology will help it achieve its goal of converting most of the landscape to capture and manage stormwater. This therefore reduces runoff and leverages it as a renewable irrigation resource. All this is done before any technology is rolled out. Essentially, it’s a test lab, on a city scale!

Using analysis, simulation, and energy modeling, the District is better able to measure and predict outcomes before taking action. Another project utilizes District-scale Rapid Energy Modeling to identify which buildings in DowntownDC ecoDistrict to target for energy incentives.

It’s an impressive program that will help the District implement its ambitious energy and stormwater management goals. To learn more about D.C.’s efforts and how your city or county can leverage data, analysis, and simulation to make similar critical infrastructure decisions, join our webinar on August 16th, 2016, hosted by Moiz Kapadia a Product Manager on the Autodesk Sustainability Solutions team – a key enabler of the project.

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Grace Bergen Autodesk Tech Writer