The increased focus on environmental performance in building design and construction is changing the AEC industry for the better, says Nora Wang, senior engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Performance-based design encourages designers to consider buildings as integrated systems rather than separating the look/function of a building from its energy/environmental performance,” she observed. The potential impact on facades is particularly significant. “New buildings with poor envelope design—which may look nice—make it difficult to reduce energy use and expensive to retrofit in the future, even with advanced lighting and HVAC systems installed,” said Wang, who will join co-presenters Robert Moje (VMDO Architects) and Roger Flechette III (Interface Engineering) in a session on “Facades and the Environment” at the upcoming Facades+AM DC symposium.
As the technical lead of Pacific Northwest’s Buildings of the Future initiative, Wang has a front-row seat to the latest developments in “very interesting design strategies and technologies that take passive designs to the next level.” She is particularly intrigued by biomimicry and biophilia, in which designers and fabricators look to nature for clues to creating better built environments. “This is extremely important to design resilient buildings and communities,” said Wang.
Wang is looking forward to Facades+AM DC in part because it provides a venue to discuss the implementation of high performance building envelopes with professionals from multiple disciplines. “I have an architectural background, so I understand the gap between design practice and technology development and the challenges of adopting new strategies/technologies in design,” she explained. “I am interested in learning how cutting-edge technologies can be incorporated into design in an innovative way that will drive positive changes without sacrificing other aspects of design needs.