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February 09, 2009
Energy and Building Performance Tools
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Welcome to AECWeekly!

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances, Announcements, New Products, Letter to the Editor and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Energy and Building Performance Tools

By Susan Smith

President Obama selected Steven Chu as secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy. On January 21, Chu, a Nobel laureate physicist and big proponent of energy efficiency, was sworn into the position. Chu is committed to the research and development of new energy technologies, which may include fuel efficient vehicles as well as efficiency in buildings and appliances. As director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 2004, he was responsible for heading up research on biofuels and solar energy technology. Chu’s 1997 Nobel Prize was awarded in physics for developing ways of cooling and trapping atoms with lasers.

It is hoped that this focus on energy efficiency will be an integral part of the President’s Economic Stimulus Package, so that new jobs can be created from the need for cleaner air, more energy efficient buildings and more efficient use of space.

In AECWeekly, we will be covering more technologies that support the analysis of emissions and the generation of natural resources such as solar and water in buildings, as they become available. The following are three products that have been around for awhile but that are growing with the demand for green building analysis tools that integrate with Building Information Modeling (BIM) software.

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Mechanical engineering firm Guttmann & Blaevoet selected the Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) to determine day-lighting controls and thermal mass, as well as how radiant technologies can reduce overall energy impact.

Ted Tiffany, energy and building performance modeling manager of Guttmann & Blaevoet, said that if you look at the work of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory over the past 20-30 years, they have been doing the investigations for Labs 21 (Labs for the 21st century), and pushing energy efficiency.

IES is also constantly keeping track of what’s going on in terms of research and how they maximize relationships with laboratories including Lawrence Berkeley to bring their technology into their own software. One recent graduate from the University of Berkeley and the Center for the Built Environment, Timothy Moore, now works for IES and brings his research on radiant systems to IES.

What Guttmann & Blaevoet needed was energy prediction tools, specifically natural ventilation, mixed mode buildings and thermal mass designs. Tiffany said that their architectural partners are interested to know how their buildings are performing, and the Virtual Environment tool gives them a 3D visual aspect for shading techniques and natural ventilation.

“Working with IES was a natural fit for Guttmann & Blaevoet with our dedication to sustainable engineering solutions. After researching a number of industry tools, we selected IES for its easy interface and interoperability with Revit. The combination of these two tools creates an ideal working environment for us,” said Tiffany. “We were pleasantly surprised at how effortlessly we could transition from the Revit model to IES’ tools.”

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Tiffany cited the example of an architectural partner, using the Suncast application, who wanted to rotate their building 25 degrees to capture a view. “They had a nice grand lobby but the view is toward the west and we were able to tell the architects that we needed to look at the application. So we built a model with it and gave them a suncast representation of their building and showed them what the 25 degree rotation would do. And we found out through the modeling process, without having to build a physical mockup, that their building was going to increase the energy use for the year 8 percent, the system size was going up 10 percent for peak energy use and that the lobby and the west
afternoon sun was almost going to be made unusable because of the glare of the sun,” said Tiffany. This problem was discovered in the schematic phase and was invaluable to the architects and the whole project in the long run.

In Europe, Tiffany said, engineers direct the conversation, whereas in the U.S. the architectural partners direct the conversation. “We’re really trying to change that conversation to get in early for design participation and get the architectural partners to think about how the mechanical and lighting designs are all going to be affected by choices early on. These tools allow us to do that.”

Tiffany also said their firm is getting a lot of mixed mode and natural ventilation buildings that the older tools can’t handle or don’t have visual applications for.

The firm uses many integrated components of IES such as, the electrical department uses the radiance tools for daylighting analysis, mechanical engineers use thermal applications t discover loads, and architectural partners use visual aspects such as shading techniques.

Prior to adopting IES, Tiffany said they used DOE 2, the Department of Energy analysis software, which had no ability to model natural ventilation, mixed mode applications with active mechanical systems and natural ventilation schemes, or do carbon analysis.

“When we start talking about zero energy buildings, the tools have to be on that level to look at how the renewables contribute to that,” concluded Tiffany. “That’s our ongoing challenge right now, we’re getting more inquiries and projects trying to get to net zero.”

According to the press release, “The IES provides building designers with the ability to customize analysis to fit their needs, specifically in energy consumption, carbon emissions, LEED Daylighting, Architecture 2030 Challenge benchmarking, thermal comfort, solar shading and penetration, and many others. The tools are also integrated around a central 3D model that can connect directly with Google SketchUp, Autodesk Revit and via gbXML along with other 3D design tools – allowing users to easily and quickly fit performance analysis into design workflow without rebuilding geometry.”

In June 2008, Autodesk announced its acquisition of Green Building Studio, Inc. (GBS), which includes tools for web-based analysis of resource consumption and emissions. At the same time, Autodesk announced its acquisition of Ecotect software tools from Square One Research, Ltd. and Dr. Andrew Marsh.

For users with a BIM model, GBS can analyze estimated consumption or generation of energy, water, and carbon very quickly. According to Pat Bailey, product manager of Autodesk Green Building Studio, the product is “a whole building analysis package.” It is a web based energy analysis service that allows users to analyze the estimated energy of a BIM model – either the consumption or generation of water, carbon, solar in a matter of seconds to minutes depending on the size of a building. Because GBS is a web service, users can easily share data across projects. This tool is designed to enable analysis in the early design stages, rather than the later stages, when making changes
is more difficult or even impossible. Weather data, cost estimation tools, and analysis for LEED daylighting credits are all features that make GBS a valuable package for sustainable design.

Bailey said that the primary way people use GBS is to bring their design from Revit into GBS and then start making changes. "Net-zero buildings [buildings with net-zero carbon emissions] are down the road, and we must think differently about how we build them," he said. Because said to be easy to do with this product, users once unaccustomed to thinking in kilowatt hours or therms will now be able to do so.

In terms of integration, Bailey said that Autodesk's efforts have been primarily focused on integrating GBS into Revit Architecture and Revit MEP. Previously, in order to run GBS, users had to export to a file, then start up a little developer application. Now this can be done from within Revit. Other integration efforts include work with Ecotect, GBS, Revit Architecture, and Revit MEP to make them all work more efficiently together. All the packages support gbXML, allowing them to share data seamlessly.

The Ecotect tools, conceived of by Dr. Andrew Marsh of the Isle of Man, are used to measure solar, thermal, shading, lighting, and cooling and heating and will affect building performance in the conceptual and detailed phases of design. This ability to forecast building performance, coupled with the GBS web-based analysis tools, gives architects and engineers tools that help in the design and building of more sustainable buildings.

In a demonstration given by Bailey, two to four schemes of an office building are shown. A curtain wall of glass that was very uncomfortable for building residents was very expensive to change late in the process. Now that GBS is integrated so closely into Revit, a user can choose a project, click to get results and it will submit that building design to the web service that goes to remote servers. For every hour of the year it simulates energy for carbon, water, and solar.

Late in the design stage, Bailey pointed out, you can improve the performance of components but it’s hard to do holistic improvements to the design. “With something as simple as daylighting, sure you can put photosensors in to perimeter space to turn out the lights, but do you really know how many foot candles you have in the space?”

The results out of Revit on this project went to remote servers, which do an hour by hour simulation, with the results that the building will consume approximately $23,000 worth of energy per year. It’s carbon footprint is about 80 tons. “If you covered the building in photovoltaic panels, you could offset approximately 50 tons of that,” said Bailey. “The point here is that it’s not necessarily cost effective to cover every surface in panels, but if you did, that would be what you could achieve. You naturally ventilated the building, the potential is there to offset a quarter of its carbon footprint and you could offset fuel consumption with biofuels and details to be sorted
out. If you did all those things you would be close to carbon neutral on this building, going from 80 tons down to 1 ton carbon, not necessarily the best way to do it but there is a way to do it.”

The project’s zip code is an indicator of what power plants are available in the area, which the carbon footprints of energy consumed on a regional basis. The type of building and the type of people who inhabit it help estimate water use, photovoltaic potential, and also whether or not it qualifies for LEED daylighting credit. A U.S. EPA Energy Star shows where the building is compared to other buildings. Other considerations are the choice of fixture types and whether or not to do rain water collection.

Weather is also a determinant. There are 50,000 hourly weather stations for the US, which provide wind energy data for a small wind turbine. With natural ventilation the number of cooling hours in a building can be reduced considerably. With photovoltaic analysis, every surface of the building is considered in analysis and how many kilowatt hours you could generate on each surface is analyzed, taking into account the fact that surfaces shade themselves and shade each other.

One of the challenges of doing sustainable design is that it’s very data intensive, said Bailey. “You have to get weather data. In principle you should be doing climate response of buildings. You need to think about natural ventilation, rainfall, what materials are available in your region of the country. One of our challenges is that we need people to look early in the process and ask what is the prevailing wind direction and how many foot candles of light can I get in this size space, what are the tradeoffs with cooling energy, etc.? The ability to look at weather data in some detail is pretty critical, and you can do that in GBS. Ecotect also has some amazing graphics to allow
people to look at weather and other data.”

GBS can incorporate different weather files, based on the type of terrain the building is on. Historic weather data from a nearby airport might not be very accurate. Bailey said that until recently almost every analysis done in the U.S. came from one of 235 weather files. Autodesk now has approximately 55,000 weather files built into GBS. Using weather files specific to a given location as well as statewide average electric rates, will give a project different results in different parts of the country.

Various code requirements for specific environments and climates can be factored in and used as defaults. There are some requirements that conflict with each other. ASHRAE 90.1, the reference standard that the USGBC uses and what was used for the demonstration reference building, varies by location. Bailey said that the results of the analysis can be refined until the user is satisfied with the results.

Top News of the Week

The Dimension 3D Printing Group, a business unit of Stratasys, Inc. launched the uPrint Personal 3D Printer (priced at $14,900 USD) at the annual Dimension reseller conference in Anaheim, Calif.

uPrint is available for purchase immediately through authorized resellers and joins Dimension’s market-leading line of 3D Printers. Designed for the desktop, uPrint requires only a 25 x 26 in. footprint and features an 8 x 6 x 6 in. build envelope. Using Dimension’s proven FDM technology, uPrint builds models with Stratasys ABSplus — a material on average 40 percent stronger than the company’s standard ABS material, making it ideally suited for testing the form, fit and function of models and prototypes. uPrint also features a soluble support removal system, allowing for hands-free removal of the model support material.

Esperient Corporation, a pioneering developer of 3D authoring tools for visual computing and next generation web applications, has continued to progress its aim of simplifying the creative application development process by adding the ability to import Google SketchUp models directly into Esperient Creator. This allows both hobbyists and professional application developers to use Esperient Creator’s straightforward User Interface to convert their static 3D SketchUp models into animated, interactive real time scenes.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

The specialized media brand “konstruktionspraxis” announced its strategic partnership with TraceParts, one of the world’s leading publishers of 3D engineering content. Two important B2B partners have joined forces here to support manufacturers of machinery and industrial equipment.

TRIRIGA and Metro Energy Solutions, a full-service consulting, engineering and design build firm specializing in energy efficiency, announced a partnership designed to help clients manage their energy-saving initiatives. By combining Metro Energy’s energy audits and implementation services with TRIRIGA software, companies can focus on buildings to improve environmental performance and reduce operating costs.

Control Group announced it has become an Autodesk Authorized Value Added Reseller (VAR). Control Group is a New York-based IT consulting firm providing solutions including application development, managed services, and training. The company’s client base includes some of New York’s top architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms.

LizardTech, a division of Celartem Inc. and a provider of software solutions for managing and distributing digital content, announced that the company has signed a reseller agreement with CADD Centers of Florida Inc., a Florida-based geospatial technology firm, to serve as a distributor of the LizardTech Express Suite consisting of GeoExpress, Express Server and Spatial Express.

Major building projects in four Northeast cities may be among the most energy efficient developments in the nation because of expert guidance provided by a new national "Sustainable Cities Design Academy." The joint effort of the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) and United Technologies Corp. underwrites the cost of participation and gives technical assistance and sustainability leadership skills to local governments, businesses and community leaders to assist in creating state-of-the-art green design strategies.


Autodesk, Inc. has announced that Dunham Associates, a Minnesota-based mechanical and electrical consulting engineering firm, has been selected to receive a Revit BIM Experience Award. The firm is being recognized for its adoption of building information modeling (BIM) and the use of Revit MEP software for the design and documentation of large-scale projects. Dunham Associates is also being honored for supporting a collaborative, multi-discipline approach based on a shared Revit MEP model, and for the use of Revit MEP software for sustainable design.

New Products

The Open Design Alliance (ODA) announces the release of version 2.7 of the ODA software development platform, underlying DWGdirect and DGNdirect.

In addition to many improvements to core components, DWGdirect 2.7 includes significantly improved rendering performance and a beta version of a new SpaModeler module, which seamlessly integrates Spatial ACIS 3D modeling engine to provide three-dimensional solids editing, visualization, and more.

Newforma Inc., a software company addressing the project information management (PIM) needs of the design and building industry, announced that, as a result of a successful completion of an early release program with nine Newforma customers, Newforma Project Center Sixth Edition will become generally available in mid-February, 2009. Sixth Edition advances Newforma's support for the multi-step, multi-party, highly interactive and highly involved processes of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). In particular, Sixth Edition now supports the complex process of LEED certification administration and the emerging digital workflows required for BIM-based design. In addition,
Sixth Edition incorporates over 60 requests for enhancements from Newforma customers. A complete description of all the new and expanded functionality in Newforma Project Center Sixth Edition can be found at
newformant.com, the Newforma user community site.

U.S. COST, a provider of estimating and cost management software, is pleased to announce the availability of the 2008 updates to the Success-formatted RSMeans MF1994 and MF2004 cost databases for seamless integration with Success Estimator. These cost databases reflect years of RSMeans costing experience and are updated annually.

Cadac Organice, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and developer of Organice, a SharePoint based engineering document management solution, has implemented Organice at Vocon, enabling them to manage their AutoCAD files and to navigate their project documents.

An entire library filled with construction elements and a vast amount of expert information – this strong synergy with its great utility for constructors - is now offered by two important market partners.

Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC), a leader in content visualization, collaboration and redaction technology, officially releases Redact-It Desktop 1.1 for removal of sensitive content and privacy information such as social security numbers, names and phone numbers before making documents more widely available. The software dramatically reduces the time it takes to redact, review and release documents for public access, eDiscovery and other processes. Redact-It Desktop 1.1 applies powerful redaction capabilities to Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel, the most widely used software programs in the world, while providing OCR (Optical Character
Recognition) processing of documents to convert PDFs and TIFFs into text-searchable files. Redact-It never alters source files, saving the redacted renditions as easily distributable TIFF or PDF files.

Esperient Corporation, a pioneering developer of 3D authoring tools for visual computing and next generation web applications, is pleased to announce a host of new features designed to further integrate Esperient Creator into Architectural workflows. With the construction industry contracting under the impact of the global recession, competition for visualization projects is on the increase and studios need to be able to distinguish their offerings through exemplary execution and innovation in service and delivery. The new features are designed to help visualization professionals stand out against their competitors.

Nemetschek North America announced that A&A Co., Inc., its distribution partner in Japan, has released its localized version of Vectorworks 2009.

Prior to this release A&A Co., which has been serving the Japanese market for more than 20 years, has only offered the Vectorworks Fundamentals and Designer products.

The timing of Japanese release happened to coincide with the new year.

COADE announced the release of PVElite 2009, the company’s popular software for pressure vessel and heat exchanger design and analysis. Code updates include ASME Section VIII Div. 2 2007 A-08 and its databases, the ASME Code 2008 updates, and British and EN code material updates. Also included are ASME VIII-1 Appendices 1-10 and 1-9 and improved ASME Division 1 Nozzle MAWP calculations. New Chinese structural steel capabilities have also been added.

Intergraph will now resell DNV Software's Nauticus Early Design software as part of its integrated SmartMarine Enterprise solution to speed ship and offshore platform design and increase accuracy by seamlessly transitioning from the conceptual design and rules calculation phase to detailed and production design without the need to remodel.

First Trace has launched an online Engineering Survival Center to assist Engineering Enterprises through these difficult economic times at
www.FirstTrace.com. The Engineering Survival Center was developed to provide managers with valuable economic advice, informative articles, process management tips, and a free Cost Reduction Assessment to calculate the savings possible with the proper engineering solution.

Geometric Limited announced the release of 3DPaintBrush version 1.2.

3DPaintBrush is an innovative visualization and rendering tool that helps create near photo‐realistic images, animations, and videos from 3D models in real‐time. It can be used to repurpose 3D models and create digital content for architectural and interior design, industrial and product design, presentations, marketing collateral

and for many other applications.

LightWave v9.5 has the following new features: improved rendering quality and speed, with major upgrades to the radiosity sampling system and interpolated modes. Also, there are new disk-based caches for radiosity: the Static Cache, for animations where only the camera moves; and the Animated Cache, where any element of the scene can move.

Around the Web

Moody Nolan and Antoine Predock Architect PC Selected for Design Shortlist for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture Feb 2, 2009, PR Newswire

Eight Architects Selected to Receive the 2009 American Institute of Architects' Young Architects Award 

As-built answers (blog) January 31, 2009 -
Soft Story Retrofit - Why do I need an As-Built?


February 10 - 12, 2009
Place: Seiler Instrument St. Peters, (St. Louis) Office

1375 Triad Center Drive, Saint Peters, MO 63376 USA

This course is designed to enable new users to learn in-depth features and functions of AutoCAD Map 3D software and how to create, mange and analyze mapping data.
February 23 - 25, 2009
Place: Hilton Americas

Houston, TX USA

Owner/Operators in Chemicals/Petrochemicals, Energy/Power, Oil & Gas and Shipbuilding industries rely on the world’s leading plant asset lifecycle management event for unmatched knowledge sharing. The program is specifically designed to meet the needs of CIOs, CTOs, CSOs and other senior engineering, operations, maintenance and IT leaders. If it affects the plant industries, it is covered at daratechPLANT. Gain unparalleled strategic insights. Discover best-of-breed solutions to maximize ROI in an ever resource constrained world. Get a glimpse into the future from the people shaping it. Connect with your peers at top-caliber receptions.
March 4 - 7, 2009
Place: San Diego, CA USA

AGC's vision is to promote a better industry for the professionals who build America's future.AGC serves our nation's construction professionals by promoting the skill, integrity and responsibility of those who build America.

March 9 - 12, 2009
Place: Orange County Convention Center

Orlando, FL USA
World of Asphalt features two prestigious educational conferences, the Asphalt Pavement Alliance (APA) Asphalt Pavement Conference and the People, Plants and Paving Training Program, in addition to extensive exhibits of the latest innovations and technologies in asphalt-related equipment, products and services.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.