Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Increased Efficiency Through Training; For Staff and Buildings

I would like to share the highlights from recent staff training I did on Autodesk’s cloud-based energy modeling tool called Insight®. But first I would like to share some “insight” on LHB’s culture of staff training and professional growth from my perspective.

Over the 13 years I have been at LHB, the firm has always supported and embraced new technology and high performance design. To fully leverage the new computer hardware and software, or to properly develop each thermal bypass out of a design, staff need training and mentors. Not everyone has the time, or motivation, to research everything on their own. To help achieve the goals and mission of LHB, the firm promotes, supports and directly offers learning opportunities to staff.


Staff growth through training

Staff have opportunities to attend internal vendor lunch-n-learns, regional conventions, national and even international conferences. For example, I have attended and presented at conferences in Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia… and again, next month, in Europe (Aarhus, Denmark).

As the BIM Administrator at LHB, one of my responsibilities is staff training around our design software and related standards. I spend an hour or two with every newly hired designer who will be using AutoCAD or Revit to make sure they have a good sense of our standards and the general philosophy behind them so they can hit the ground running in their new role here. I also provide 1-2 day training sessions for new staff that are not familiar with the software we use; I love that LHB wants to hire the right person, and not necessarily someone based on knowing a specific software. Finally, I also provide training sessions to staff on various topics throughout the year. These group sessions are usually during regular business hours, usually not over lunch, to make it easier for staff to attend these sessions that will improve quality, performance and efficiency of both our staff and the firm as a whole.

LHB also maintains an internal on-demand service called LHB Soar. This service provides “canned” external sessions on various topics, with many providing Continuing Education Credits our professionals need to maintain their licensure. LHB Soar also serves up recorded internal trainings, such as required safety trainings, limited license agreement overview, and even my staff trainings. With this system, the firm can offer consistent training opportunities to all staff who may not have been able to attend a live session, were on leave or just started at the firm. This content can be accessed from anywhere; in the office, home or internet cafe.

LHB's Learning Management System (LMS); SOAR
I should also mention we have a unique opportunity to participate in many USGBC training sessions. The USGBC-MN staff are co-located in LHB’s Minneapolis office through donated space. As a sponsor we usually have a few tickets available to staff… what’s even better, is the training is often within our office, after-hours!

Expanding Knowledge on Energy Modeling Workflows

Last month I did a live training session, in our Minneapolis and Duluth offices, on Autodesk Insight. The live training was also broadcast via the internet so other staff not able to attend in-person could participate, and even ask questions. Also, one of the sessions were recorded and is now available in LHB Soar for anyone who missed the training or does not work here yet!

Presenting to Staff in Minneapolis Office
I have already written about this software on this blog. I also wrote this article for the LHB Performance blog: AUTODESK INSIGHT 360 – A NEW PARADIGM IN ENERGY OPTIMIZATION.

Although we have used Insight in the office, this training is meant to expand its use by staff.

One thing I love about live training sessions is invariably I almost always learn something new myself. Lots of questions are asked by those in attendance. Luckily, for the questions I don’t know on this topic, I can ask my friend Ian Molloy, the primary product developer of Insight at Autodesk. After some research, for example, one such question about “weather data” turned into a nice post on my blog; Autodesk Climate Server.

Related Presentation Opportunities

I also teach graduate students in the Architecture program at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Classes began August 21st (2017) and we have already touched on Autodesk Insight 360 so the students have access to the basic tools in other classes right away. Later in the semester we will revisit Insight, getting into much more detail. I also cover professional lighting design, point-by-point illuminance calculations. BTW, I have also done webinars on lighting design for the company who makes the lighting design software we use: for more on that, click this link: ElumTools/Webinars.

2017-18 NDSU BIM Seminar Students
Presenting to LHB staff and NDSU students is great practice for another presentation I will be giving on this topic. In November, I will be presenting on this topic at the Minnesota AIA Convention in Minneapolis. Last year I presented on our firm’s use of Virtual Reality (VR) in practice. I am excited for this opportunity to share what I believe is the most democratized energy modelling opportunity within our industry; if you have Revit you have free access to Insight, and if you don’t someone can share an Insight project with you – allowing you to dynamically adjust inputs via a web browser. Thus, everyone can engage in the process.

LHB and D/O presenting on VR at 2016 AIA-MN Convention


Training is an important aspect of one's professional development. I enjoy helping foster that development. Preparing for a presentation forces me to validate my thoughts on a particular topic. And, as I already mentioned, I often learn something new from those attending my presentations.

Thanks for reading.