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Sustainable design
About EcoDesigner, Energy Evaluation, Life Cycle Assessment, etc.

Sustainable design key aspects

Illes Papp

The ability to design sustainable buildings and make our built environment sustainable is a key topic and I would like to gather your insights too in this complex area. Tools and workflows available may differ from one region to another based on local standards, support from the state, building inventory, available technologies, and materials just to mention a few aspects.

I would like to gather your insights based on your experience and knowledge collected in your professional work. This information will help us as an additional source of truth, understanding differences and similarities in this field with our current findings.

Let me start driving this conversation by providing a few topics you may cover in your reply:
• What are the key pain points regarding sustainability in your business?
• What tools are being used by your team to tackle down those issues?
• Which aspects are very well covered by solutions you have?
• Which aspects lack a good solution currently?
• How do you connect to your local material databases, and how well those satisfy your needs?

The list above is non-exclusive, anything else you feel worth discussing is more than welcome to be added. There’s no right or wrong reply, even if you send data that we already covered in our research it is important to understand how these overlap (or not) each other with your insights included.

Illés Papp
GRAPHISOFT Senior Product Manager


@Illes Papp I have three basic requirements which I need to address in my house designs:


1. A UK compliant U-Value calculation for an assembly. I need to get my build ups to meet at least minimum performance standards to comply with regulations. This obviously is only the first step on a full building assessment but an important one when establishing space requirements for the required building envelope.


2. Related to 1. a condensation risk assessment to check for interstitial condensation.


3. Smaller businesses require external building assessment. The ability to schedule or otherwise export the required data for regulation compliance or for Passivhaus performance checks (PHPP) would help with the collaboration process.


Thank you for pursuing this important subject.

Apple iMac macOS Sonoma / AC27UKI (most recent builds)


Thank you for reaching out on this, this is a very important topic. From my personal perspective and the projects I work on =  retrofitting of existing buildings with insulation and energy efficient systems and materials to bring them up to code. Across Europe, laws are coming into place NOW which mean that exisiting buildings must meet minimum energy saving requirements or there are financial penalties for the property owners.


The BIG issue with AC in regards to this is the whole nature of handling renovation/Retrofits, especially the addition of insulation layers to either the interior or exterior of exisiting structures. The renovation tool was never fit for use from its first implementation unfortunately and we have had to use a work around ever since.

AC needs a functioning renovation system that works correctly, allowing the the addition new layers to exisiting elements, through the use of composites, the addition of a Modified filter, along with Exisitng, Demolished and New. This has been asked for for over 10 years, and GS is late to the game now.


A huge oppotunity was missed with the implementation of the Options tool in 27, which would have the occasion to spend resources to make the renovation tool functional, which would automatically bring the ability to have options with it. As far as I can see, the new options tool is just a repackaged renovation filter that allows you to link together and show various filters together or separately in a folder system.



This GDL label will give you nominal values: but also GWP for a full slate of composites. Attached is a PDF of how we use this to cost assemblies and guide lowest GWP. For early phase condensate risk and effective U-values (with bridging) we use - an excellent early tool, should be compliant with UK methodologies. Doing this inside archicad is possible with labels, the folks at Kubus are developing one such label, but there is no good/easy way to do effective R/U value calcs - until we get composites that allow discontinuous layers of materials, studs, fasteners, laterals, battens or what have you. 

Andy Thomson, M.Arch, OAA, MRAIC
Thomson Architecture, Inc.
Instructor/Lecturer, Toronto Metropolitan University Faculty of Engineering & Architectural Science
AC26/iMacPro/MPB Silicon M2Pro

Andy Thomson

Hi Illes, There are nice-to-haves, ie. methods of compliance with proprietary standards like BREEEAM, LEED, PHI, etc. and then there are our regulatory obligations. Many EU based countries now have aggressive EN standards like Denmarks BR18 or Sweden's BBR18 that mashup Embodied Carbon and Operational Carbon. We believe the focus should soon shift to supporting these regulatory requirements through alignment with ISO/EN standards like ISO EN 15804: Scoped emissions per below. 



We can do limited predictive modelling with Energy Evaluation and we can also do LCA for LOD100-300 right inside ArchiCad using schedules and the 'MaterialCatalog.xml' file inside the add-ons for Energy Evaluation - but this limits us to the A1-A3 scope - we desperately need this expanded to the full scope shown above. is an alternative for BR18 compliance that we are also using in a North American context for standards and codes compliance, and AHJs (Authourities Having Jurisdiction) have accepted our submissions by dint of ASHRAE 140 compliance of EcoDesignerSTAR/Energy Evaluation.  That said, we would prefer not to use properties and classifications for this work as these values do not import easily from project to project, where updating an xml file updates ALL of our projects! This is where we feel ArchiCad could instantly and easily increase its value to customers, and not require us to pay yet another subscription to yet another software company. For a sample schedule we use to generate LCA reports on our layouts - this schedule file can be imported to any ArchiCad file. (attached)

Andy Thomson, M.Arch, OAA, MRAIC
Thomson Architecture, Inc.
Instructor/Lecturer, Toronto Metropolitan University Faculty of Engineering & Architectural Science
AC26/iMacPro/MPB Silicon M2Pro

Our workaround for this is switching to a post-reno composite with insulation on a non-interfering, separate layer. Probably what you already do, but we can probably both agree some more complex composite behaviour would be welcome, where layers of a composite can form part of a 'demo' or 'new' Reno option. I heard rumour that this was in the works but I guess it didn't happen?

Andy Thomson, M.Arch, OAA, MRAIC
Thomson Architecture, Inc.
Instructor/Lecturer, Toronto Metropolitan University Faculty of Engineering & Architectural Science
AC26/iMacPro/MPB Silicon M2Pro

Hi Andy, thank you for your response. I would just like to to understand your method for adding insulation to an exisitng building, working with reno filters. With the method that I use I end up demolishing almost the entire building and replacing with new wall/floors/roofs with composites that include the new insulation layer. Which renders renovation plans useless because the entire project is shown as demolished/rebuilt, instead of just modified with the new insulation layers.


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