Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
 

Partnered Event Explores High-Performance Façades in Chicago's Tall Buildings
May 24, 2017
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CHICAGO – CTBUH partnered with energy delivery company ComEd and Seventhwave – a non-profit that promotes energy efficiency through direct engineering services, education, and research – to host a breakfast seminar focused on high-performance tall building envelopes in the Chicago region. With an audience largely composed of local developers, architects, and engineers, the event sought to identify opportunities for energy savings at every stage of project development. The event was split into two groups of rapid-fire presentations and panel discussions, one focused on Designing the Façade and the other on Investing in the Façade.

Jean Ascoli, Senior Energy Efficiency Program Manager, ComEd; Brett Bridgeland, Energy Engineer, Seventhwave; and CTBUH Executive Director Dr. Antony Wood delivered opening remarks, contextualizing the morning’s discussion and introducing the esteemed panelists. Wood set the scene by previewing examples of efficient façades that are also architecturally expressive, saying “The responsibilities of the façade in terms of performance are as much about its positions as a piece of architecture, as an object of expression in the city. And I think sometimes we perhaps lose sight of that, especially in an American context.”

CTBUH Executive Director Dr. Antony Wood set the scene for the morning by previewing examples of efficient façades that are also architecturally expressive and informed by local culture.
He also introduced several valuable design objectives for high-performance façades, including opacity, environmental responsiveness, energy generation, and maximizing layers of usage, providing quality examples of each before introducing Brett Bridgeland. Bridgeland then discussed façade performance for high-rise multi-family units in Chicago specifically, summarizing research that would form the backbone of the following panel discussions.

The first panel tackled façade performance from a design and engineering perspective. Moderated by Susan Heinking, Director of High Performance and Sustainable Construction, Pepper Construction, the panel included Stephen Katz, Technical Director, Gensler; Peter Weismantle, Director of Supertall Buildings Technology, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG); and Craig Burton, Associate Principal, Interface Engineering. Each speaker gave a brief presentation before participating in a panel discussion and Q&A session.
The Designing the Façade panel (from left to right): Susan Heinking (moderator), Director of High Performance and Sustainable Construction, Pepper Construction; Craig Burton, Associate Principal, Interface Engineering; Peter Weismantle, Director of Supertall Buildings Technology, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG); and Stephen Katz, Technical Director, Gensler.
Stephen Katz, Technical Director, Gensler, discussed the natural ventilation strategies for Shanghai Tower.
Attendees listened attentively to each of the panelists' presentations.

Katz started by sharing several examples of high-performance façades on tall buildings, starting with Shanghai Tower, the world’s second tallest skyscraper. He described the unique double-skin exterior of the building and the performance benefits that it realizes, including natural ventilation. Next, Weismantle discussed how his firm sets and tracks façade performance criteria for their projects, using the example of Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia. Finally, Burton introduced the work his firm does to achieve energy savings in façade design and the role of HVAC systems in realizing efficiency, concluding with a look at energy retrofits in Chicago.

The ensuing discussion touched on a number of topics mentioned in the presentations. The conversation revolved around the degree to which envelope performance can provide deep energy savings for Chicago high-rise buildings and what barriers might prevent that from happening. All agreed that envelope performance is a critical investment, and that building owners and tenants need to be further educated on the benefits of high-performance façades. The challenges of investing in these improvements were prefaced here, and discussed in greater detail during the second panel, which focused on the developer perspective.

A short 10-minute break and networking session precluded the second panel.
Attendees were given the opportunity to grab some refreshments and continue discussions with their peers.
A short 10-minute break and networking session divided the two panels. Michael Berkshire, Green Projects Administrator, City of Chicago, moderated the second panel, which featured Frank Soldano, Vice President, Design and Construction, Related Midwest; Barbara Hickey, Vice President, The John Buck Company; and Christopher Dillion, President, Campbell Coyle Real Estate.

Soldano introduced Related Midwest’s properties in Chicago and discussed their development process, characterizing it as “evolutionary instead of revolutionary.” He then cycled through a number of specific projects and described the envelope design for each. Next, Barbara Hickey discussed the “build it like you own it” development philosophy employed by The John Buck Company, highlighting the importance of creating real estate with long-term energy benefits in mind and emphasizing the role of the façade system in that endevour. Finally, Christopher Dillion shifted gears to focus on small-scale projects and how the performance criteria/objectives change at different scales. He finished with a call for more companies to publish performance results so that the industry, and more importantly the general public, can better understand how various buildings compare with one another
at a city-wide scale.
CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood introduced the Investing in the Façade panel.
The Investing in the Façade panel (from left to right): Michael Berkshire (moderator), Green Projects Administrator, City of Chicago; Christopher Dillion, President, Campbell Coyle Real Estate; Barbara Hickey, Vice President, The John Buck Company; and Frank Soldano, Vice President, Design and Construction, Related Midwest.
The discussion that followed focused on how the city’s sustainable development policies have changed the panelists’ approach to developing properties. Soldano suggested that a city emphasis on energy efficiency has enabled developers to focus on those priorities earlier in the design process, thus enabling more innovative approaches. The general take-away was that the industry is moving in the right direction, although it is still too early to gauge the overall success of the city's programs.

After another lively Q&A with the audience, the event concluded with a word of thanks from Ascoli and Wood, both to the panelists and the audience. Afterwards, panelists were gracious to stick around and discuss the topics of the day in an informal setting with attendees.
Attending Companies:
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture LLP
Alter
Antunovich Associates
ArchiTech Consulting, Inc.
Baker Development
Baumann Consulting
Burch Enterprises
Campbell Coyle Real Estate
CBRE, Inc.
Chicago Southwest Development Corporation
City of Chicago
Clayco
ComEd
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Cyclone Energy Group
DBHMS
Development Management Associates LLC
Eco Achievers
EFCO Corp
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Environmental Systems Design
Epstein Global
Everlights, Inc.
Farr Associates
Fleet and Facility Management
Forum Studio
Franklin Energy
Gensler & Associates
HACIA
Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture
Hines
Honeywell
IL Housing Dev Authority
IMEG Group
Interface Engineering
International Energy Conservation Consultants LLC
JGMA
Krueck + Sexton Architects
KSA Lighting and Controls
Laszlo Simovic, Architects, LLC
LendLease
MEEA
Merritt Connect, Inc.
MIST
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
Nexant
Passive House Institute US
Pepper Construction
PNC Real Estate
RATIO Architects
Related Midwest
Seventhwave
Silliman Group
Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP
Stantec
The Green Facilitator, Inc
The John Buck Company
Thornton Tomasetti
Trammell Crow Co.
Wight and Company