'Green' fueling Autodesk's business

Greater interest in efficient building construction is pushing designers in Asia to use 3D modeling software, says software maker.

The growing awareness of "green" building design and construction is good news for software maker Autodesk.

According to the San Rafael, Calif.-based company, Asia's recent construction boom has raised awareness of green buildings, which in turn is fueling Autodesk's business. Companies are using its 3D modeling software to better plan the allocation of building material.

Patrick Williams, vice president, Asia-Pacific central, Autodesk, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia: "There is a huge interest in efficiently using the natural resources available to keep energy consumption down, to reduce the waste that is created [during construction], to keep your carbon footprint at the smallest."

Besides the "civic consciousness" that comes along with heightened awareness of environmental issues, Williams said, the main reason for green building is simply to cut costs.

Traditional methods of designing a building on paper often lead to wastage, because architects are unable to determine exactly how much material ought to go into the structure. "Rising waste and cost of energy are some inefficiencies that come along with paper design," noted Williams.

3D modeling, on the other hand, maps out the construction process in such detail that contractors are able to budget for material "right down to a single brick", said Williams.

The rewards are great, too. Companies can save as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of excess material, he noted.

Emmanuel Samuel, sales execution director for the building solutions division, Autodesk Asia-Pacific, added: "People always think vehicles are the number one enemies of the environment, but buildings emit 30 percent of green house gases, use up 12 percent of the water, and create 65 percent of the waste [on earth]."

Overcoming the adoption barrier
Although technology costs has been one of the biggest impediments to the adoption of 3D modeling software--as 3D simulations often require powerful processors and this posed a barrier in developing countries--this is no longer an issue, said Samuel.

"3D is part of everyday life and our software runs on regular PCs," he said, noting that progress in hardware capabilities is lowering the barriers for architectural students in many developing countries.

Williams said: "In the past, there was a lack of architects coming out of universities able to design 'green'. Now, the talent coming out of the region is comparable to the rest of the world; I just visited a 3D design club of young local architects recreating the streets of Hanoi, and that was very exciting.

"We're able to put our software into the curriculum in universities, and we've done so with Thailand, and are working with Singapore now."

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