Autodesk, Inc. announced the results of tits first annual Autodesk Green Index, a study commissioned to evaluate the use of green design elements and practices by architects. The study indicated that the rate of adoption of green building elements is accelerating, with the use of high-efficiency HVAC systems leading the way, followed by the increasing use of design software to predict and evaluate HVAC operating costs, solar lighting, and retention basins for storm water run off. The study queried practicing architects on their expected use of 16 green design practices and elements from five years ago, the previous 12 months and the expected use of these practices five years from now.

"We will see a dramatic increase in the very near future in the green design strategies architects use to design buildings," said Phil Bernstein, FAIA, LEED AP, vice president of Autodesk Building Solutions Division. "Architects and designers will need to be increasingly familiar with materials research, energy and atmosphere management alternatives and design software tools that facilitate these new green designs practices using building information models (BIM)."

Incorporating high-efficiency HVAC systems was found to be the most common element of green building design today, with greater than 50% of the study's architects specifying use on more than half of their projects over the past year. Sixty-seven percent of the architects responding to the survey used design software to maximize solar lighting, and approximately 64% used retention basins. More than half of architects used design software to predict and evaluate HVAC operating costs in the past year with one third of these architects using this software on more than half of their projects. Other elements and practices identified as important to incorporate into green buildings include monitoring devices for lighting, heating and cooling, evaluation of building materials to maximize energy performance and minimize environmental impact, use of design software to do energy modeling/baseline analysis, use of salvaged, refurbished, or reused building materials products, maximization of interior solar lighting, and prediction and evaluation of the environmental impact and lifecycle of building materials. The study investigated the use of 16 practices based on the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.

The study's architects believe that the greatest impetus for the adoption of green initiatives will come from higher energy costs for heating, cooling and lighting. This in turn will induce clients to demand efficient, renewable sources. Government intervention, using either a stick (regulatory requirements) or a carrot (incentives), would also influence adoption according to the survey. Sixty-four percent of commercial architects contributing to the study believe that client demand has the greatest influence on whether or not green initiatives are incorporated into the design process. Eighty-five percent of the study's residential architects believe rising energy cost has the greatest influence and 81% of institutional architects believe regulatory requirements and client demand have the greatest influence on the adoption of green design practices.

This Internet survey was conducted in October 2005 among architects practicing in the United States. Of the architects who responded to the survey, 54% are predominantly involved in commercial projects. The rest are involved with single-family homes (24%), institutional (19%), or industrial projects (4%). Fifty-seven percent have 10 or more years of experience as an architect. Seventy percent have received training or continuing education on the subject of green buildings. The full survey is available at www.autodesk.com.