Sunday, October 11, 2009

NREL: Software for Building energy efficiency simulation

OpenStudio, a new quick, easy to use and free software tool created by NREL developers seamlessly combines the building energy simulation of EnergyPlus with the popular drawing interface of Google's SketchUp.

Gone is the tedious and time-consuming task of manually entering building geometry data. Now users can quickly sketch a computerized 3-D drawing of a building and run a fast simulation during the early design phase to determine if their design is energy efficient. Taking a virtual X-ray of a building's energy use in the conceptual phase helps architects design a structure with fewer carbon emissions, lower utility bills and a healthier environment.

OpenStudio Simulates Energy Usage in Early Design Phase
The OpenStudio plug-in is bridging the gap between energy modeling and the building design process. Nick Long, a NREL engineer who helps develop OpenStudio, says the software is a critical piece to getting energy simulation into the early design phase of building construction.

"Integrating energy analysis into that phase is very important because you can start to reduce energy use well before a building is even in conceptual design," he said.

Because of the simplicity of OpenStudio and the quickness of the SketchUp models, architects can easily use this tool during the launch of a building project. "Our hope is that by using OpenStudio in design charrettes, users can start throwing away designs at the very beginning of a project, saying: 'This is not a good design because we're going to use too much energy,'" Long said.

Users Download OpenStudio for Free
Around the globe, architects and engineers are embracing OpenStudio. Users can download the software for free and see how easy it is to improve a building's energy consumption in a fraction of the time of more-expensive computer-aided design (CAD) packages.

Approximately 700 copies of OpenStudio are downloaded each month. "It's been great," Long said. "Thousands of users of EnergyPlus are learning about OpenStudio and adopting it as the defacto geometry editor."

Download OpenStudio:

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