Thursday, September 11, 2014

The integration of microforests in buildings can reduce energy use + increase worker productivity, reports a new scientific journal paper by Symbiosis Principal Giancarlo Mangone

Working in a vegetated environment was found to significantly improve the participants' thermal comfort, in a quasi experiment that was published in a recent issue of the peer reviewed scientific journal, Building and Environment (click the link for a free copy of the article until Oct. 1, 2014)

The participants' thermal comfort increased even in more extreme temperatures. Thus, the integration of a microforest, or densely vegetated spatial environment, in an office building can reduce building energy use, by allowing the temperature setpoint to be raised in the summer and lowered in the winter.

The results were based on a year long thermal comfort quasi experiment conducted in 2013 with approximately 70 office workers in The Netherlands, in which half of the participants had extensive vegetation in their workspace, while the other half didn't.

The operative temperature was varied throughout each testing period (one month per season). Plants were found to significantly improve occupant thermal comfort, including temperatures that were  warmer and cooler than they were accustomed to.

The results of this research indicate that incorporating microforests into buildings not only reduces energy costs, but also can make the building more resilient to mechanical failures, peak loads, the effects of climate change, etc. Potential additional benefits include reducing mechanical equipment sizing, and increasing worker productivity and well being.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Symbiosis principal Giancarlo Mangone’s PhD research concept integrated into Schmidt Hammer Lassen's design proposal, wins Norway’s ‘Nordic Built Challenge' Design Competition

                                                    Rendering Courtesy of Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

The 'Urban Mountain', our design team's winning submission, was awarded first place in Norway's Nordic Built Challenge. The jury commented that the 'Urban Mountain' "merges architectural design and environmental strategies in a manner no other entry quite reaches", it "insists on setting a new standard"

In order to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding performance rating, as well as integrate nature into the performance and experience of the project,  Giancarlo Mangone developed an innovative vegetation integrated thermal chimney advanced natural ventilation and air filtration system. This system was developed from strategies and results from his ongoing PhD research at TU Delft, and resulted in the incorporation of plants to filter the interior and exterior air, as well as provide spatial natural environments. This integration of natural environments was developed in a way that improved worker creativity and productivity, energy consumption rates, indoor air quality, interior daylighting potential, occupant thermal comfort, as well as provided high performance work spaces. The project also addressed the local ecosystem's ecological integrity by providing microhabitat patches for various local flora and fauna, and raises occupants ecological awareness through the provision of opportunities for direct interaction between people and a dynamic range of local habitats and biota.  These benefits improved the economic, energy, worker, and ecological performance of the project, and resulted in an innovative, high performance design solution.

The Nordic Built Challenge asked design teams to renovate a 25 story office building in downtown Oslo, Norway. The performance goal of the competition was to develop 'the most environmentally friendly rehabilitated building complex in the Nordic Region', and set 'a new design standard with bases in economy, environmental innovation and life cycle principles, for holistic rehabilitation of an existing, high rise office building. The design proposal must address Cradle to Cradle standards, and work towards being rated as BREEAM Excellent or Outstanding.

The design team included Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, Symbiosis : Sustainable Design + Consulting, Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH, Cradle to Cradle Denmark, COWI DK, Loop Architects

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Symbiosis Principal Giancarlo Mangone's PhD Research published as cover story in Dutch National Mechanical Engineering Magazine - TVVL

Symbiosis Principal Giancarlo Mangone was invited to write an industry article on his PhD research for the Dutch National Mechanical Engineering Organization TVVL's magazine. The article was featured as the cover story of the June 2013 edition of the magazine. The research project is focused on how the design of buildings can improve the performance of building environments, with particular focus on how to design building projects to minimize building energy use and construction and operating costs, as well as improve the space efficiency of the building, occupant creativity and comfort, and the ecological integrity of the local ecosystem. 
High performing solutions to these problems are developed and evaluated in this research project through the design of microforests within existing buildings and new construction projects. By integrating natural environments and processes into buildings and building infrastructure systems, previously unachievable performance benefits are achieved. To find out more, read the article here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Symbiosis principal Giancarlo Mangone to present high performance building design and performance evaluation system at World Green Roof Congress 2012 in Copenhagen

 Symbiosis principal Giancarlo Mangone will present the company's developing high performance building design and performance evaluation system at the World Green Roof Congress 2012 in Copenhagen, on September 20, 2012.
This innovative design support system will be explained through a presentation of a case study Symbiosis generated for a developer in Amsterdam. Using a renovation for a typical existing, mid-size Dutch commercial office building, the performance and applicability of this design support system was evaluated.

Design solutions that improved the performance of the project in a myriad of performance parameters were developed, including economic performance, worker performance, and ecological performance. A standardized performance chart, along with more detailed text guidelines, was developed for each design solution. These tools offer a method to compare the performance of the design solutions, which provides design teams with the opportunity to effectively and efficiently determine which design solutions and strategies are most suitable for their project. Thus, design teams, developers, and building owners can utilize this toolkit to make informed design decisions that result in higher performing buildings, improved employee performance and comfort, and improved local biodiversity and ecoligical integrity

In the Netherlands, 14% of existing office buildings are vacant. 60% of these buildings remain vacant for more than three years, thereby becoming out-dated and unable to provide adequate work environments for prospective tenants.
By renovating existing office buildings with the shared goal of improving local biodiversity, building performance and costs, company revenues, and worker performance and comfort, the performance of each of these project parameters can be improved, while providing more appealing and accommodating office spaces.
Attend the conference in September to learn more about how to reduce building costs, increase company revenue, improve worker performance and comfort, and improve the local ecosystem through architecture.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Giancarlo Mangone invited as a guest critic for final student design studio reviews in the Umea School of Architecture in Sweden

Symbiosis principal Giancarlo Mangone has been invited to be a guest critic for the final student design studio reviews in the  Umea School of Architecture in Sweden. The school curricula is focused on integrating sustainability, research, and aesthetics, in an experimental, and innovative manner. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Can Investing in and designing for Nature Stimulate the Economy?

Symbiosis Research Question of the Week : Can Investing in and designing for Nature Stimulate the Economy?

Over the years, Symbiosis has taken on various research initiatives to identify methods to improve local economies through the construction of natural environments. The primary design driver in this research has been : Can architecture be non - anthropogenic (not designed primarily for human occupation and direct use) and still improve local economies, ecosystems, and communities?

The Guardian reported an inspiring example, that although not currently engaging the field of architecture, has developed methods to stimulate local economies while improving local ecosystem biodiversity and ecological integrity. By constructing a 'forest wall' across the border of the ever-expanding Sahara desert in Africa, local ecosystem biodiversity and integrity is improved, while providing agricultural resources for local communities, reduce the local desertification process, 20 years in the making, this project now has global financial support, and is set for construction.

So the question is, how can architecture engage this concept?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How can buildings enhance and protect occupant health and performance?

High Performance Office Building, designed by Symbiosis

Symbiosis Research Question of the Week : How can buildings enhance and protect occupant health and performance?

The environments people occupy have a significant, direct  effect on their health and well-being. The average person in the US and Europe spends around 90% of their time indoors. Current building environments frequently generate illnesses and negatively impact people's health, well-being, and work performance, through Sick Building Syndrome, other Building Related Illnesses, and non-stimulating environments. Poor air quality, toxic materials, and disconnect from natural stimuli such as natural daylight, plants, and local climate conditions are among the contributing factors. In addition, current research by the Biology and Built Environment Center indicates that typical mechanical ventilation strategies meant to improve air quality are having the opposite effect, removing the beneficial bacteria and matter (which generally originate in the natural environment) from the air, and replacing it with detrimental matterincluding human sweat, saliva, and VOC's. 

How can buildings be designed to enhance and protect occupant health and performance?

Symbiosis, in collaboration with Wageningen's environmental psychology ' Health and Society ' chair, is developing a building health performance evaluation tool and guidelines for designers.

Check back in for future results