SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Benjamin Lee
TIME: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 12:00 p.m.
PLACE: MARC Building, 114
TITLE: A Pragmatic Value-Driven Approach to Design with Applications to Energy-Conscious Buildings
COMMITTEE: Dr. Chris Paredis, Chair (ME)
Dr. Godfried Augenbroe (COA)
Dr. Bert Bras (ME)
Dr. Julie Linsey (ME)
Dr. Brian German (AE)


Within the design community, a growing number of researchers have shown interest in the notion of a value-driven approach to design, in which engineers and managers focus on maximizing the 'value' of a product or service, rather than on a set of specified requirements. The principles of these approaches are simple and robust, and the rigor of decision theory is leveraged to provide a strong mathematical basis for rationality. It has been argued that a value-driven approach can eliminate troubling issues that arise during the design process, such as cost and schedule overrun, by taking a holistic perspective on how individual design decisions impact high-level attributes of concern. However, a common criticism of value-driven approaches is that they are difficult to implement, and not sufficiently pragmatic to be used for large scale engineering problems. Further, some argue that less rigorous methods appear to provide reasonable results in practice, and so rigor is not necessary. To reconcile these disparate viewpoints, it must be shown that value-driven approaches contribute to the design process, and can be implemented in practice at a reasonable cost. In response, I propose that the cause for the lack of practicality in value-driven approaches is attributable to the lack of well established and verified methods and tools. I attempt to address this deficiency by first developing a better understanding of effectiveness for methods that seek to enable value-driven design. This investigation leads to a concise set of desired characteristics for methods for guiding the development of value-models which then motivate the creation of a Systematic Method for Developing Value Models (SMDVM). To evaluate the SMDVM, it is applied to the design and retrofit of buildings for energy efficiency. A simulation workbench is developed as a tool to automate the development and analysis of value models for building design and retrofit contexts. The workbench enables architects, engineers, and other practitioners to easily incorporate uncertainty into analyses of building energy consumption, as part of a value-driven approach to design and retrofit.