“I think technology is providing a huge impact on architects and engineers’ ability to predict and visualize the impacts of their design decisions. Not only has technology made these opportunities more accessible, they are quickly becoming mainstreamed,” said Brian Skripac, director of digital practice at Astorino, a firm that places high value on sustainably designed, built and operated buildings.
In fact at Astorino, they “now use analysis tools to evaluate impact on energy and daylighting at the start of all major projects, and work to continue iterative analysis through early design. Interiors or building retrofitting projects may have a particular aspect of analysis applied, such as daylighting studies,” said Rudy Marnich, sustainable design manager at Astorino.
The main CAD software giants Bentley and Autodesk, smaller software tools SketchUp and Rhino, and third-party green building analysis software gurus Integrated Environmental Systems (IES), have made a big push to emphasize the importance of these analysis and simulation tools for green building purposes.
Bentley’s AECOsim Energy Simulator
Let’s start with Bentley’s AECOsim Energy Simulator, a great building performance desktop simulation tool that is built on the platform of EnergyPlus. It is ideal for engineers and energy managers modeling the energy performance of both new and existing buildings looking to reduce in energy usage in these buildings. Some features include:
- it contains rich datasets and attribution based on ASHRAE and CIBSE. Additionally, the automatic generated baseline simulations are the ASHRAE Standard 90.1/62.1. This makes calculating LEED energy points easier.
- users can customize their own datasets to meet company standards
- users have access to industry standard load calculations like ASHRAE RTS, heat loss and CIBSE
- the graphic display, creation and modification of HVAC systems
- the graphic interface is built on a building information modeling (BIM) platform
In May, the SELECTseries 3 version of AECOsim Energy Simulator was released and featured some exciting updates, including:
- conceptual design modeling with 10 inputs, sketch the floor plan, select HVAC system types and simulate options.
- the ability to create building models from PDF, BMP, JPEG and PNG image files
- added ASHRAE Standards 90.1 - 2010 and 62.1 - 2010 requirements, data sets and prescriptive and whole building simulation compliance
- a new notification bar that shows errors, warnings and messages during the project. If you double click on the message, it takes you directly to the input field with the issue.
- an updated EnergyPlus version 7.2 simulation engine
– a new graphic component-based interface for modeling HVAC systems that features three things:
1. drag-and-drop HVAC components, draw lines (ducts, pipes) to connect
Green building can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You can create a house out of straw bale that you mix yourself, and you can go to the opposite extreme and have the latest and greatest technology assisting you from design to build to operations of the building. While both avenues of green building are impressive and admirable, because we live in such a technological world, we thought it would be relevant to highlight the ways that CAD software, and specifically analysis and simulation in the design phase, is transforming the way that buildings are being created and built.