Pollination User Spotlight: Studio GreenAarch's Energy and Daylighting Journey

We’re thrilled to feature Pollination user, Asis Nath, founder, and lead Sustainable Consultant at Studio GreenAarch (SGA). SGA is located in Odisha, India, and consists of a team of 5-10 architects and engineers. They specialize in the sustainable development of new commercial and residential building construction, commercial interiors, institutional landscaping, and building simulation and analysis for green building rating systems.

You've been using Pollination for almost a year now; can you describe a notable project or simulation study that you completed using Pollination?

Yes! We recently worked on a naturally ventilated commercial shopping complex that was designed from scratch, in the eastern part of India with a warm humid climate. It is a four-story structure with a basement, heavily decorated with traditional Jaali and decorative overhangs denoting the cultural aspects of the place. On the inside, it has atriums surrounded by shops in a linear fashion.

Main Entrance - Northwest Perspective of the Building Model in Rhino 3D
Side Entrance - Northeast Perspective of the Building Model in Rhino 3D

For this project, an energy and daylight model were required to meet the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) compliance, an Indian green building rating system. Since we wanted to push our modeling capabilities for replicating detailed envelopes and we were working on a naturally ventilated building, essentially every room needed to be modeled as its own zone. This level of detail allowed us to capture a nuanced view of temperature variation across the building. The final model consisted of 610 zones with 5 domed-shaped skylights on the roof. Time was a major challenge in this project. We had a quick turnaround request from the client and needed to input a lot of data, validate the model, and provide simulation results to the client in a short period of time. We considered using Ladybug Tools’ Honeybee plugin for Grasshopper, but Grasshopper struggled to handle the volume of data in our model. We also considered using other tools such as DesignBuilder which is great at handling naturally ventilated buildings, but modeling and simulating 610 zones would crash our computers.

Main Entrance - Northwest Perspective of Energy Model using Pollination Rhino Plugin
Side Entrance - Northeast Perspective of Energy Model using Pollination Rhino Plugin

The most time-consuming process for our office after modeling is ensuring our simplified analytical model has the correct boundary conditions and envelope properties assigned. Pollination made this process a breeze through its PO_ValidateModel and many PO_ColorBy… commands. PO_Validate Model allowed us to QA & QC our model at each step of our process and helped us to fully debug our model before simulation. We then used the  PO_ColorBy… commands to visualize Boundary Conditions, Room Properties, Face Properties, and others to further ensure the inputs assigned to each room and surface were accurate.

Color by Boundary Condition
Color by Face Normal
Color by Room Properties
Color by Face Properties
Color by Radiance Properties

We found the process for entering building data for each zone using the Pollination plugin very intuitive. We could select multiple zones and apply construction sets or schedules quickly and without confusion. We appreciated the graphical method of creating schedules, which was also quick and minimized errors. 

Pollination interface for entering energy and daylight metadata
Scheduling Interface in Pollination Rhino Plugin Inspired by OpenStudio UI

Once the model was created and validated using the Rhino plugin, it was easy to transfer the model back to the Grasshopper without losing any data using the Pollination Grasshopper plugin to perform simulation locally or on the cloud. Using the Honeybee Grasshopper plugin we could change the model properties for different iterations quickly. Since our building had mechanical extractor fans in the basement, we used Ironbug with Pollination to add detailed and custom HVAC systems for simulation. Furthermore, since Pollination is built on top of OpenStudio, it was easy to integrate OpenStudio measures. 

How would you characterize your overall experience with Pollination and its impact on your workflow?

It was a game changer for us in the building simulation industry. With reliable and faster Pollination cloud computation, we were able to complete our analysis and share results with our clients without delay. Once the model is uploaded to the cloud we could also visualize it on the web page for QA & QC which adds transparency and confidence.

Energy Results

As per GRIHA compliance, we need to have project EUI less than 225 KwH/m2 for this climate. We could successfully run the whole simulation on a cloud that on a normal local system crashed due to an overload of data.  With optimization of this design, we could achieve 78% energy savings Which fetch us 10 out of 10 points. We could reduce EPI up to 40Kwh/m2 approximately. With standard OpenStudio results as output, it was very simple for us to document compliance!

Daylight Results

The same detailed model was used to analyze the daylighting, using the Useful Daylight Illuminance (UDI) metric. The daylight grid was assigned based on GRIHA requirements, which resulted in 13,067 sensor points! With such a large number of sensor points, it was again impossible to run on our local machine without locking it up for a couple of days or resulting in a crash. Using pollination Cloud Computing resources, our simulation ran in just 22 minutes without sacrificing quality or resolution. The Radiance model scaled up to 100 CPU cores and optimized automatically.  

22% of the total occupied area qualified for UDI_100-2000 lux, so we were able to achieve all the 4 points allocated to the GRIHA daylighting credit which required a minimum of 20%. 

Daylighting Results

Because we had access to all simulation files,  we were able to bring the results into Rhino using the Pollination Grasshopper plugin for custom post-processing. Overall, our experience with the Pollination ecosystem has helped us discover innumerable possibilities for evidence-based designs. The well-integrated tools and workflows save us so much time and the increase in productivity has made Pollination one of our primary tools throughout the design phase. We are eager to see continued developments in the near future!

Thank the whole Ladybug Tools team for their continuous contribution to the AEC industry. Special thanks to Mostapha, Chris, and Mingbo who continuously assisted me in this process!

Thank you!