Sustainable design, meet sustainable rendering

May 5, 2022

Sustainable design, meet sustainable rendering

May 5, 2022

Sustainability is an increasingly important trend among architecture firms in the UK, with a majority of the top 100 firms in The Architects’ Journal 2021 survey claiming to have a specific approach to sustainability in their built projects, a sustainability team in place, offer sustainability training, and measure their own carbon footprint.

One part of the process that remains difficult to improve from a green perspective, is the visualisation – the photorealistic renderings and animations that bring the buildings to life. The more detailed and immersive the visuals, the more energy required to render them, which means more CO2 and more heat waste emitted into the atmosphere.

3D rendering is incredibly processor intensive; a single 8k frame could create ~5.5kg of CO2, depending on complexity. Animations are another level of carbon intensity; multiply the impact of a single frame by thousands and you get the idea. Walk throughs and fly throughs add significantly to the carbon footprint of the visualisation process.

How does heata help?

Heata offers a far more sustainable rendering option. We harness the waste heat from the processing, to generate hot water. And by doing that we remove the air conditioning energy cost incurred by most data centres. Together that significantly reduces the carbon impact of the rendering undertaken on our network.

How does heata work?

  1. Powerful compute servers are attached to domestic hot water cylinders.
  2. The processing power is rented out to organisations who have compute workloads (architectural rendering is a great example).
  3. The heat generated by the processing is transferred into the water in the cylinder.

Once installed, a heata unit generates about 80% of an average household’s hot water by re-using heat that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.

What difference would rendering on heata make?

Here’s an example of the impact a typical job could have if rendered on heata vs a typical data centre:

Carbon impact is based on this image / complexity

Typical data centre:
Ten high-res renders (8k): 55kg CO2
One minute walkthrough (4k @ 24frames / sec): 1,944kg CO2

Ten high-res renders (8k): 24kg CO2
One minute walkthrough (4k @ 24frames / sec): 864kg CO2

In this scenario, rendering the stills and walkthrough with heata would reduce the carbon emissions by 56%, saving 1 tonne of CO2 vs a typical data centre. But in addition it would also generate 25,000 litres of hot water for a household that needs it. They’re significant benefits and could be a valuable part of the overall sustainability story of the development.

If you already have an Environmental Management System such as ISO 14001, heata could help you make improvements in a new area, as well as offering significant broader CSR benefits, through supporting families in fuel poverty with free hot water.

Try out rendering on heata

We use V-Ray and process .vrscene files – if you’d like to try out rendering on the heata network we’d love to hear from you. 


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