Software developed by researchers at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain is taking off with large Spanish construction companies. The simulation software, which can be used on the cloud, simulates the effects of design choices and construction scenarios. Users are able to obtain an analysis of the entire building life cycle from creation to deconstruction.
This tool, named NECADA, was developed by brothers Pau and Antoni Fonseca from the Center for Innovation and Technology at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (CIT UPC). This novel software is the first to simulate the entire construction cycle including material choice, design, energy consumption, orientation, and social repercussion. “Nowadays there are many IT solutions on the market, capable of calculating energy consumption,” say Pau Fonseca. “ but they don’t take into account key construction and design issues or deal with all the environmental and social consequences, which are fundamental to a sustainable system”.
One of the software’s main selling points, is that, unlike competing software, NECADA considers social aspects of construction decisions. Pau notes, “You can have a very ecological building, but in making it viable, materials have been used which are not so ecological, or in whose chain of distribution and development, workers have been exploited. It is difficult to be sure that the chain is clean. Businesses and corporations’ interests often make information unclear, but NECADA provides scenarios that enable this to be done properly.”
Another of software's most unique features is the ability to simulate models to show how the building and environment interact. The system considers different climactic scenarios, allowing users to compare their effects and customize the primary factors that have an impact on buildings. "It is also possible to calculate how much CO2 a building will emit," notes Fonseca. The software enables the user to see how much of an effect their construction has on climate change and vice versa.
NECADA also boasts strong versatility. Taking advantage of BIM, building information modeling software, the user can begin with the shape and design of the building in three dimensions. The software then proposes alternate construction solutions suggesting other material choices and orientation as examples. The software integrates key factors including the price, transportation, assembly, and dissembly needs of materials into a cost estimate for the building. Uses include new construction, renovations, materials research, and energy audits.