High performance buildings—buildings with the aim of reduced energy and resource use— require that engineering analysis be at the center of an iterative and complex design process that assesses trade-offs, goals, and priorities across engineering and other fields of expertise. It has been observed that teams rarely get this right. Historical, cultural, and technical issues all get in the way of open communication and the integration of technical analysis. In this research, we ask what organizational and communication practices are needed for engineering to translate and design teams to synthesize complex energy modeling into the design of hospital buildings? In this paper we introduce a detailed ethnography of energy modeling during the conceptual phase of a new hospital design where energy modeling falls short of its potential. With cross case comparison, we found that a technically-knowledgeable boundary spanner in the owner organization enriches collaboration between the design team and the owner organization for more accurate and impactful energy modeling and improved translation of the model between team and owner. The energy modeling process became almost more important than the results of the energy model wherein the owner and design team had design-critical conversations about the model inputs and clear knowledge about the owner’s goals for the data. We propose that it is in this socially constructed knowledge where real high performance design can occur.
Dossick, Carrie Sturts, Gina Neff, Laura Osburn, Chris Monson, and Heather Burpee. “Technical Boundary Spanners and Translation: A Study of Energy Modeling for High Performance Hospitals.” Cle Elum, Washington: Engineering Project Organization Conference, 2016. http://www.epossociety.org/EPOC2016/papers/Dossick%20et%20al%20_EPOC_2016.pdf.