Posts tagged ‘sustainability’


Click to launch the FootPrint app

FootPrint is the result of collaboration between CORE studio and our Corporate Sustainability department, who worked together to find out and illustrate how our office operations and building projects impact the environment. The Corporate Sustainability department collects carbon footprint data from all Thornton Tomasetti offices on a number of sustainability indicators, such as how much energy an office uses for heating and cooling, how much waste it produces and how far employees are commuting and by what means. This data collection happens in two-year cycles (with the exception of offices that have relocated, for which we make sure there is a full year of data before including the metrics).  We’ve also incorporated Thornton Tomasetti’s Green Champions into the map, who help lead sustainably initiatives within their offices to help put some smiling faces behind all of this hard work.

In parallel to this effort of data colleciton, Thornton Tomasetti has joined the AIA 2030 commitment toward lowering the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the building structures that we design. The Corporate Sustainability department organizes our effort to measure embodied carbon in our projects for reporting to the AIA. As part of the initiative, CORE studio developed a Revit Plugin in 2012 that pulls material quantities from our Revit models and enters this information into a database. To date, we have over 200 buildings in the database and are continually adding more. This dataset is now being used to set benchmarks and to help us get a better understanding of the correlation between our structures and the impact they have on the environment.


A screenshot of the Carbon Calculator Revit Plugin for extracting material quantities to be added into the building carbon database


The embodied carbon of structural projects from 2011 – 2013 by market sector

The FootPrint map wasn’t created just to help make the results of this data collection more transparent within Thornton Tomasetti, but to also make the information available to the public. The map itself is built on a variety of CORE studio’s favorite web libraries, including google maps, google charts, and dat.gui.

The latest round of research funding has been awarded by Thornton Tomasetti’s R&D group, and staffers in several offices and practices are hard at work on bringing these new ideas to life. Projects underway include several sustainability analysis tools, a computer language training program for technical staff and a study on the implications of performance-based wind engineering.

These projects were based on proposals submitted to Thornton Tomasetti’s Innovation Suggestion Box, which was launched last year. Funding for these research proposals allows Thornton Tomasetti employees to spend time outside of billable projects to develop unique ideas to improve operations across the firm. In a sense, the R&D initiative gives us a little breathing room to think big.

Anyone in the firm can propose a research project, with submissions collected approximately once every quarter. In addition to getting resources allocated for their projects, employees whose proposals are selected also receive an iPad mini.

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Illuminance study for the Hudson Yards Culture Shed.

Illuminance study for the Hudson Yards Culture Shed.

We are excited to announce that our own Integration Applications Developer Mostapha Roudsari has recently released Honeybee, his second plugin for environmental analysis, as well as a new version of Ladybug!

Honeybee is an ongoing, open source project to connect Grasshopper with validated daylighting and energy simulation engines, such as RADIANCE, Daysim, EnergyPlus and OpenStudio. The current version of Honeybee includes 64 components that enable users to prepare and run a variety of daylight analyses.

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This April, Matthew Naugle, of the Philadelphia ACM team, and Wolfgang Werner, of the New York Sustainability team, will present their research with PAR on the analysis of carbon in plastic-infused concrete structures at the Sustainable Structures Symposium. The two day event will be hosted by Portland State University’s School of Architecture and will focus on the intersection of architecture, structural engineering, and green buildings.

Thornton Tomasetti’s Building Sustainability practice, in conjunction with the CORE Studio team, is developing a Rhino/Grasshopper-based, concept-level sustainability analysis platform known as PANDA (Parametric Analysis of eNergy and Daylight Autonomy). The tool uses Energy Plus’ robust energy simulation engine within a parametric modeling environment by employing Integration Applications Developer Mostapha Roudsari’s Grasshopper Honeybee components.

The interface will allow the user to experiment with multiple design iterations and obtain rapid feedback on whole-building energy use, utility costs and renewable energy potential.

The tool differentiates itself from similar tools on the market by:

– using powerful simulation engines generally used for more detailed modeling
– allowing the user to visualize changes to the building in Rhino’s modeling environment
– simultaneously analyzing daylighting
– providing comparisons to energy standards such as ASHRAE 90.1 and the 2030 Challenge

In addition to being able to rapidly simulate design parameters like geometry, floor heights and window-to-wall area ratios, the team plans to eventually add the capability of evaluating the impact of HVAC systems, such as under floor air distribution and ground source heat pumps. The tool is currently in the beta testing phase and is being evaluated by Project Director Colin Schless, Roudsari and Sustainability Intern Christopher Mackey. We will post progress updates here on the blog as it evolves.

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The set of components we created for Grasshopper.

The set of Grasshopper components we created to calculate and visualize embodied carbon contents of structures.

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.

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