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BLDG 2.0: Can Data Transform Building?

We'll surely never cease to marvel at the architectural feats humans accomplished long before the age of computers, but it's nevertheless a wonder to see what we can do with digital tools at our fingertips.

Technology is not only assisting architects and engineers through computer aided drafting, but also by enabling the aggregation of good ideas and making information easily accessible to a vast number of people. If Web 1.0 was about the transmission of CAD drawings through the internet from architects to clients to contractors, Web 2.0 is about engaging social networks and user participation, harvesting knowledge from many minds to make everyone a bit smarter and accelerate the pace of innovation.

A new initiative from the New York-based design technology consultancy CASE embraces the tools of the social web with the goal of making sustainable design easier and better. BLDG 2.0 tackles tangled, intractable building performance data through three primary functions: Pulling together useful data sets, creating an interface that turns overwhelming and densely packed data into understandable information, and opening the platform to the community of users for further discussion, refinement, and innovation.

As they put it on their introductory page: "Inspired by the principles of mass collaboration and collective intelligence, BLDG 2.0 seeks to fill the void between design intent and verified building performance by providing an open-source analytical interface to building performance databases, a collaborative community of experts, and an online marketplace for ideas emphasizing building energy performance and open innovation."

Speaking at theGreenNet Conference in San Francisco earlier this week, CASE co-founder Steve Sanderson asked, "Can data transform buildings?" It seems likely that it can, but first we need to tranform the data itself such that it's accessible and useful beyond the data-crunchers who dig it up. BLDG 2.0 is still a nascent project, but its innovative, open delivery platform holds a lot of promise for industry-wide progress toward more sustainable building.

CASE is launching BLDG 2.0 in partnership with Arup, SHoP Architects, Columbia University, the New Buildings Institute, and IDEO. As they get underway, keep your eye out for opportunities to plug in and contribute.

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