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GO-arch! Genetic Optimization of Green Building Design with an online, architect-friendly, cloud-based tool

Internationally Danish architects have been distinguished for the quality of their design. Today, design goals are changing, and to maintain leadership and provide the access to new markets, it is important to be able to design innovative and high sustainable buildings.

Indsendt af

Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering


Internationally Danish architects have been distinguished for the quality of their design. Today, design goals are changing, and to maintain leadership and provide the access to new markets, it is important to be able to design innovative and high sustainable buildings.

The research focus on the creation and the spread of an online tool for the design of green buildings named GO-arch!. The latter is based on genetic optimization (it is an algorithm technic inspired by genetic selection in nature) and the use of the power of cloud computing (supercomputers accessible from any internet device) and a higher degree of user-friendliness.

By using the tool, any architect will find the greenest range of sustainable solutions across billions of design combinations automatically generated in a very short computational time. The development of GO-arch!, based on the collaboration between researchers and Danish practices from the AEC industry (architectural, engineering and construction), will create jobs, research opportunities and international collaborations.

A short-term effect is that Danish architects will be leading the highly competitive international market of sustainable architecture.

Udfordring og muligheder

On a global average, building-related activities consume more than 40% of a country's energy. Thus, one of the main tasks for architects today, is how to improve the “greenness” of buildings.

Decisions made by the architects should aim to fulfill a mix of objectives (e.g. reduction of buildings’ operational and embodied energy consumption, emission and optimization of thermal and visual comfort).

Such objectives are today the core of any building design and became even more important with the EU ambitious targets for 2020 that prescribe that all new buildings shall consume very little energy (nearly Zero-Energy Building or nZEB). Such objectives cannot be reached without the use of “Building Performance Simulation” (BPS). However, as stated in several research, existing simulation tools are either not user-friendly or use long time for computation. 

The tools developed in Denmark in the latest 3 years try to overcome such of the usability issues but are based on rudimental algorithms. Additionally, they do not allow the evaluation of several design scenarious in a short time. Literature in the field clearly indicates that the investigation of several design scenarious would lead to a major improvement of building performances. There is a clear need for a new generation of tools.

GO-arch!, - in its conceptual draft - would be the first tool bridging the gap between the usabiliy (for architectural offices, in education and reseach) and the most advanced computing algorithms for Genetic Optimization and technologies (Cloud Computing). Genetic Optimization is a technique inspired by the Darwinian evolution theory used to automate the process of searching for an optimal solution.

Applied to buildings it will allow to explore billions of design scenarios automatically leading to the greenest building design. The integration with Cloud computing will allow to send simulation to multiple cores so that that in few seconds results will be visualized to architects.

Finally the use of an interactive internet interface (connected to the Cloud) will allow any architect in any location to use it, independently from their device computational capacity. By being at no cost, and user-friendly, it will progressively trickle down into big and small sized offices, influencing the whole community of designers and education and leading to a new generation of green buildings.


In brief, the aims of the project are:

  • Creating a cutting edge, online and user-friendly tool based on Genetic Optimization and Cloud Computing to effectively support the design of green buildings. Spread its use in the majority of architectural firms.
  • Dramatically improve the “greenness” of buildings reducing their impact on the environment and the people in Denmark and globally. The extensive use of a more intelligent tool will support the design of innovative green buildings.
  • Increasing the competitiveness of Danish architectural firms on the local and global market of architecture today characterized by the sustainable paradigm.
  • Stimulating the discussion around green building design opportunities. The tool will be developed by involving multiple actors from research institutions and from the AEC industry. 


Despite the availability of design technology currently used in science and the availability of powerful computational technologies, the AEC industry is far from implementing technologies that are used in science and engineering.

The consequences are that architectural designs never reach or get close to the greenest solutions and buildings are not as “environmentally friendly” as they should be.

This is partially due to the fact that not every architectural practice can dedicate or have the knowledge base to perform research and there is the need to support the whole community of architects in their efforts of designing green buildings. In addition the tools available do not support green design in an effective way.

To reduce the impact of such issues, exemplary initiatives to support the whole community of architects are happening in states were governments invest in creating design tools. Such approach primarily oriented to reduce energy cost and health costs locally (e.g. Department of Energy in USA), have successfully impacted the ability of architectural firms to compete internationally and to access emerging country markets.

Such experiences of innovation make it clear the potential impact on the described tools development. A tangible effect will be the increased competitiveness of Danish architectural practices and research on the international green economy market.

De danske forudsætninger

Denmark is a country with quality of its architecture, known for design, high-technology specialized production of simulation tools and high level of research. The community of architects is open to research and experimentations, leading to significant innovation.

An important prerequisite is therefore the dialogue across the Danish community of architects, interactive technology specialists and researchers in the field of sustainable buildings. Finally universities and governmental agencies should be part of the project given the significant impact that will have on creating cutting edge “green” buildings, which will constitute an internationally recognizable reference.

Effekter og potentialer

With GO-Arch! The competiveness of Danish architects will be tremendously improved as well as the sustainable performance of buildings. The tool can therefore provide education, knowledge and support highly innovative concepts in architecture to both small and sized firms. 

GO-arch! will generate more research opportunities. The further application of the tool and production on a larger scale would enlarge Denmark’s ability to compete in the international setting and will open up possibilities for creating employment in Danish companies.

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Senest opdateret 05. marts 2013