Opening the black box: Enhancing community design and decision making processes with building performance simulation

It is widely acknowledged that faced with diverse future impacts (including climatic changes, economic instability and energy supply vulnerabilities) buildings and communities’ worldwide need to become increasingly resilient. The work presented in this paper investigates how Community Design and Decision Making (CDDM) processes can be enhanced through the use of design thinking techniques involving Building Performance Simulation (BPS). The research presented is based on findings from a real-world case study project involving the design of a mixed-use zero carbon community welcome centre planned for the Findhorn Eco-Community, in Scotland, UK. Throughout the conceptual and early design stages the community played a crucial part in the decision making process. Extensive consultation and community engagement exercises formed the basis from which initial design concepts were produced and evaluated. BPS results and in particular the use of sensitivity analysis (SA) techniques played a major contributing role in establishing a multicriteria evidence base from which to inform the CDDM process.