A building structure is made up of many different material combinations. It is not always intuitive to understand which material combination for a specific building type is more efficient, when it comes to embodied carbon and embodied energy impacts. Furthermore, a typical concrete structure still contains about 8 to 10 psf of structural reinforcing steel, and vice versa, a steel structure contains large amounts of concrete. This calculation becomes even more complex when trying to compare different building typologies, say a low rise building with a column grid spacing of 30ft, with a high rise building with a column grid of 25ft, even if the net floor area is the same. And to further complicate these equations, one can also bring different concrete strength values into the mix, or consider supplemental cementations materials or recycled steel.
Ennead Architects recently approached us to collaboratively submit an entry for a custom designed self shading insulated glazing unit for the TexFab competition. Over the course of two weeks, Brian Guerrero and Aniju Varughese from our building skin group, Colin Schless and Vamshi Gooje from our sustainability group and Jonatan Schumacher and Robert Otani from the Advanced Computational Modeling Team collaborated with five architects of the R&D entity EnneadLab to design an innovative IGU. The proposal was based on a research project that Ennead had previously started internally, and they saw the TexFab competition as an opportunity to continue their previous efforts. Ennead was also very interested in teaming up with our Skin, Sustainability and ACM groups for enhanced research opportunities.