Federal Government

Building Efficiency into Structural Design


USAF Chapel Building

In order to keep historic and culturally significant buildings habitable, functional, and efficient, it’s vital to do the maintenance and repair necessary to ensure they remain intact for future generations. Even more, it’s critical to re-analyze older structures in order to discover potential faults in the foundation and, perhaps more interestingly, to optimize these structures for peak performance. With a long standing reputation as the leading company for architectural and building software, Autodesk’s Federal Solutions Team has taken on some unique government assignments that have resulted in more than just the preservation of landmarks.

In 2014, the Autodesk Federal Solutions Team partnered with the United States Air Force Academy to complete a digital model of the USAF’s Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The building, completed in 1962, is considered an icon – even a sacred place – for the Air Force community. However, after nearly half a century of wear and tear, the structure itself was in dire need of renovation. Water leakage and heating and cooling efficiency concerns were among the top of the list of other structural problems. The Academy decided to first assess the existing state of the chapel by documenting it in a revolutionary way.

Autodesk, and a team from the USAF, performed 129 sUSAF Chapel 2cans of the chapel using FARO and Leica laser scanners and a UAV – which took over 1,200 photos of the outside of the building. Inside the structure, the UAV and the FARO scanner were able to capture in detail the various levels of the building. This reality capture data was then inserted into Revit – Autodesk’s Building Information Model (BIM) authoring platform. Using Revit, analysts were able to create an accurate reference of the chapel for the creation of a 3D model, also constructed in Revit. This model enabled users to visualize and simulate different possibilities of repairs and structural overhaul.

Using Autodesk Simulation Computational Fluid Dynamics, Autodesk and the Air Force were able to determine which changes to the building would have the greatest impact on energy use and spend – for example, moving an HVAC system from the front to the center of the building would enable the Academy to save drastically on heating costs in the winter. Lighting Analysis for Revit also offered answers to where the best window placement would be based on detailed daylighting and electric lighting simulations. And, using Green Building Studio, the team was able to determine the particular building upgrades that would optimize the structure’s energy use overall.

USAF Chapel 1These models were also able to be utilized in 4D and 5D – that is with time and cost predictions calculated in to the overall building repair quote. With 4D renderings, officials were able to validate adjustments to the structure prior to executing them on site by ensuring the timelines to finish the projects would be possible. More, the 5D cost predictions were visualized directly on the Revit model, so analysts could see the predicted savings of the Lighting Analysis within the visualization.

By showing results of changes in real time that in turn predict real outcomes like cost savings, greater efficiency, and overall better occupant experience, the U.S. Air Force was empowered to make very informed, economically viable decisions in real time. With Autodesk, our nation’s important structures are in good hands to receive the care, maintenance, and repair they need to ensure they remain a part of our country’s future.

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