Shimizu Corp. Develops AI Software to Design Greener Buildings

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Shimizu Corp. President Kazuyuki Inoue is seen in front of his company’s building.

Shimizu Corp. has developed software that uses AI to design energy-efficient buildings.

Until now, it usually took the major contractor about a month to design a green building, but the new software can shorten this process to a single day and is expected to improve accuracy.

Reflecting a growing global awareness of environmental issues, customers are increasing demanding that energy-saving measures be incorporated into the buildings they order. The company aims to attract business by streamlining its design process with AI.

The new software automates designers’ time-consuming work by having AI learn the complex processes involved in drafting plans for environmentally friendly buildings.

The software generates design proposals by optimizing the specifications for approximately 50 items, including window glass insulation, air conditioning systems and lighting, based on each client’s budget and desired energy-conservation rate.

By repeatedly tweaking the design in accordance with a customer’s requirements, the software creates a few different proposals — such as one that puts priority on maintenance and management, or one that emphasizes comfort — then outputs a final proposal for the client.

Conventionally, a building’s energy efficiency is calculated after all the specifications have been determined. If the specifications change, the calculations have to be redone from scratch. For large buildings, this sometimes takes more than a month.

There is growing interest in buildings with virtually zero energy consumption — known as Net Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB) — especially for use as offices.