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Energy Modeling Software

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Giving up for the moment the much needed direct integration with VW, I am curious what others on this board are using for energy modeling programs right now? I am looking to provide basic trade-off analysis for such things as increased insulation, better windows, glazing areas, etc. Ideally, this would start early in the design process. Allowing me to explain to clients the cost/benefits added insulation, proper site orientation and proper glazing is becoming crucial remaining competitive, as well being able to improve my designs based on more than rule of thumb and intuition.

If I'm going to integrate this into my work flow, I would like spend my time doing it with a program that has some industry wide recognition, and outputs data that has value for code officials as well as other energy raters.

I am looking at REM/Design and to a lesser extent, HEED and REScheck

Thanks for any help,


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  • 4 months later...
Are you not aware that years of work, by industry and computer experts, went in to developing and validating all of the energy modeling programs referenced above?

Well those experts can either deliver the right results or get out of the Industry...

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Where I come from the professional is licensed and not the software...ask any second year engineering student they'll tell you why? LOL,you should be familar with leaving elements off models?(Thats the answer!) In the few years that Ive been complaining you have done nothing to improve your position...That must be a concern for the shareholders and users.HTH

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Right now, it's not. You do a preliminary model, using Sketchup, for instance, to test a concept. I believe that is what is desired, is it not?

There are other GUI tools that act as "front ends" to energyplus. But they all are very complex, because the data required for energyplus is very complex. The results are NOT easy to interpret, unless you are trained and skilled at energy modeling and analysis.

I think IES provides some interesting tools to be used with SketchUp, for preliminary concept design analysis, but I must admit I haven't seen a great solution yet for designers.

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You need to sort this out. I went to a BIM conference last week in Dublin where the major BIM software vendors Revit, Archicad, Microstation & Vectorworks presented how there software can be seen to be working towards BIM modelling. I have to say the Vectorworks presentation by Jonathan Reeves was impressive but the one glaring inability was energy analysis. The other platforms can extract this information in what appears to be a very straightforward fashion and this issue is critical to our workflow.

To suggest that you design in Sketchup and then move over to Vectorworks makes no sense. Increasingly we are designing from the start in 3D in Vectorworks.

Taking a more positive view of this issue I spoke to many architects after the conference and all very impressed with Vectorworks. I was expecting to be wowed by Archicad & Revit but from the demonstrations there did not seem to be anything hugely better in either of them compared to VW and all at multiples of the cost. If NNA can provide a simple interface perhaps by export to gbXML or by a direct link or export to suitable software then you could pick up a lot of customers. As they say in football. It's an open goal.

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Right now, gbXML is not being considered. IFC is our path. As more products come online with IFC compatibility over the next few months, our users will see options. As well as talking to us, it helps for customers to talk to the vendors of the energy apps to encourage them to support IFC as much as they currently support gbXML. In fact, the vendor support for IFC implementation, by buildingSMART International, has the added benefit of rigor and official certification that gbXML does NOT have. This ensures that the quality of export/import from any app is consistent, reliable, and repeatable. We are currently involved in this effort. I don't see that happening with gbXML. I have heard many horror stories from sim/analysis developers, myself, in using gbXML. In many cases, they would rather see users use built-in geometry tools, with all the limitation, than import another tool's geometry. The only thing missing for the IFC path, right now, is participation from the energy analysis/simulation vendors in these efforts.

An energy analysis model is NOT the same as an architectural design model. I think this is the point that seems to escape many designers today. The complexity of inputs, calculations, and outputs of a proper energy analysis/simulation model is beyond the expertise of most architects. It is also why there are applications purpose-built for such analysis and specifically educated and extensively trained professionals in this field. For design work, I believe that comparative studies (three design options, which one is the baseline, which ones are better/worse or good/better/best, as design strategies) between options are valuable, with limited data inputs, and limited geometry.

Using a tool like SketchUp and the IES VE-Ware plugins (or HEED, or REScheck/COMcheck), is one way of accomplishing that type of comparative conceptual design analysis, right now. In the not too distant future this may well change. But, the original posting was about what is available NOW.

With all the hype surrounding energy simulation/analysis being deeply integrated in the design process, especially by architects, there is a BIG disconnect between what designers think they want and how complex the issues of using the tools, the reliability of the simulations, and the congruence with the actual results really are. I believe in many cases, using common sense design rules, tried and true design and construction methodologies, and consulting with engineers/experts goes much further than trying to do a complex digital simulation yourself.

There are whole hornets' nests of issues that need to be confronted and straightened out before integrated simulation solutions can be considered useful or reliable for use by designers everyday, as simply as they may use a tool or command like a wall, door, or window. Issue like:

- Which scientific method is the best foundation for the simulation? Why are there different ones?

- What are the minimal inputs needed (including extents of geometry and data) to provide a competent simulation/analysis?

- What is the point of diminishing returns for the amount/scope of inputs?

- What do the results of the simulation/analysis mean and can they really be understood by the end user?

- How do the simulations and results compare to reality?

- What are the standards that the science, tools, and results are based on? How many different standards are there? Why? How do they differ? Why do they differ?

I've seen presentations/demonstrations of energy sim/analysis being done by architects with horrible outcomes/processes/results most of the time because they didn't understand how the tools optimally work (less geometry, more attributes is better) or what the science was behind the tools. In the end, they most often were dissatisfied because of the amount of work and re-work it took to get a competent model out of one system and into another that was usable by the sim/analysis tool, the results weren't easy to interpret, and the sim/anaylsis results set up expectations that weren't met by the real conditions, most often due to factors completely overlooked by the designer.

Instead of exacerbating the problem by quickly implementing a indeterminate solution, I would rather have more thoughtful dialogs and development with expertise that produces processes, tools, and results that are known to be usable, reliable, and consistent. That will take some more time.

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Thank you for taking the time to share your informed perspective. I think I will stick with the REScheck + HEED combo (for now) that I have been using for the small houses that I design.

Regarding having engineers do energy modeling on larger projects: To get good results, I have found that I have to extract the input data from the model and coach them along.

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Regarding having engineers do energy modeling on larger projects: To get good results, I have found that I have to extract the input data from the model and coach them along.

That wouldnt have been a problem if more engineers were still using this program...instead we were told to go else where when the focus was shifted to Entertainment (aEl) instead of Engineering (aEc) who takes responsibility for that BLUNDER....

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Thats my intent,you dont give your work or money away for nil return? Needless to say,In the real world... you wouldnt bother with $10 energy scripts..one would be patenting complete energy/control building systems and their manufacture.I'd say the rocket scientist is on that trajectory---get the gist

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Instead of exacerbating the problem by quickly implementing a indeterminate solution, I would rather have more thoughtful dialogs and development with expertise that produces processes, tools, and results that are known to be usable, reliable, and consistent. That will take some more time.

I thought NV had dropped the ball on integration but this is good to hear.

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  • 1 month later...

Wheres the Data mate,LOL Locked up in the Engineers Autocad file.

Project by Verdeco Designs achieves Passive House certification

It looks like a case of where the client had to cut back on costs and ripped out the moldings...Old school style

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  • 1 year later...
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  • 1 year later...

well, i have played a bit with the gbxml output, and the results are for me devastating.

i'll try to summarise in points.

1. the gbxml 'place spaces' command ignores the invisible storeys (there is a storey structure in my project) and puts a space everywhere, even for small enclosed areas.

2. i've modelled the slabs as two layers: the construction one, and the floor finish one. the gaps, cut out in the floor layers for the walls wind up as space divisions for the 'place spaces' command, and the existing spaces are being ignored. i get thus doubled spaces, and all slab layers appear again as visible.

3. the gbxml export then crashes the application.

can anybody explain the best strategy to use this functionality? i am helpless.



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  • 2 weeks later...


i understand the need for the spaces enclosing the whole storeys, but i do not get what do i need additional spaces for, when i already do have my own ones?

and why are they located on the slab layers (where i have my construction and floor slab parts)?

can anybody explain this part of the gbxml functionality, just for the sake of all users's understanding?

thx in advance


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getting deeper into the gbxml topic:

- the spaces assignment ignores the proposed class, everything gets created in the space-main

- the gbxml export after the spaces assignment crashes the app in the v2015 either

- deletion of the additional spaces messes up the walls' appearance in the sections (some of the walls disappear irretrievably - i presume the sections would have to be created a-new)

more to come.


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