Monday, July 20, 2009

Engineering GIS in LEED for Neighborhood Development

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification program that encourages the adoption of sustainable design, construction and operation practices as applied to buildings and communities. Think of LEED as a way of promoting a green approach to community development.

From a civil engineering perspective, LEED for Neighborhood Development (
LEED ND) is an opportunity to bring together engineering design and GIS analysis methods in order to meet a set of documented requirements for achieving LEED certification. For example, the Smart Location and Linkage category encourages brownfield developments to reduce urban sprawl. Maximum credit can be attained if the project is located in a previously developed infill site that is also in a high-density area. In this case, high-density is a function of the number of street intersections within a half-mile of the project boundary.

To determine how well a project complies with these criteria, we can apply an
Engineering GIS approach that leverages both CAD and GIS data. First, rather than using an import/export method to bring together the required data, FDO data providers are used to connect the GIS-based parcel and street centerline data to the CAD-based site design. Next, a geospatial buffer is created at a distance of a half-mile from the site boundary. The buffer is used to determine proximity and involves generating a polygon at a specified distance from the proposed site boundary. Finally, in this simplified example, a geographic query is used to determine the number of intersections within the buffer and this number is compared to the LEED criteria.

Some of the benefits of this approach include the following:

  • Data conversion and data redundancy can be avoided as a result of using FDO data providers to connect to the data directly rather than relying on an import/export process.

  • Efficiency is improved as a result of applying an approach that embraces CAD tools for site design and geospatial tools for analysis all in one software platform.

  • Better designs are possible because more design alternatives can be evaluated against LEED criteria.
Check out the video to see the process in action using AutoCAD Map 3D.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cowboys, Barbeque and Geospatial Analysis

Yee Haw! It’s Stampede Week in Calgary, Alberta and what better way to celebrate than to combine Stampede attire (ie cowboy hat, jeans, big belt buckle and boots) with a seminar on Geospatial Analysis. Well, it seemed like a crazy idea; however, the folks at Autodraft, Inc have a great sense of fun. So, when I was given the opportunity to talk about my favorite topic of Engineering GIS and CAD/GIS integration, I jumped at the chance.

In spite of the Stampede traffic, the rain and the tornado watches, folks came out in droves to learn how to analyze their CAD drawings and geospatial data using the powerful geospatial analysis tools found in Engineering GIS. With the help of my pardner "Cowboy Bob", we delivered a seminar entitled "Geospatial Analysis for the Egnineering and CAD Professional". We used AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Raster Design and Autodesk Topobase to demonstrate numerous geospatial techniques including…

Sample Buffer Analysis performed with AutoCAD Map 3D
  • Queries and how to use them to get more information from CAD drawings and GIS data sources
  • Drawing cleanup tools and why they are necessary to ensure the accuracy and correctness of CAD and GIS data
  • Topology, it’s importance for CAD and GIS users alike and how to create topologically correct features
  • Spatial analysis such as network traces and their use with CAD and GIS data
  • Polygon overlay and its power to reveal new patterns in CAD and GIS dataSample 3D Surface Analysis performed with AutoCAD Map 3D
  • Buffer analysis and why it’s sometime the best way to determine spatial proximity
  • 3D surfaces and how to analyze them for height, slope and aspect
  • Raster to vector conversion and how to combine scanned CAD drawings, maps and aerial imagery with vector-based CAD and GIS data
  • And more…
After the presentation, we all moseyed on down to the Autodraft corral for a great Stampede barbeque, refreshments and conversation.

A fun and informative Yee Haw time was had by all!