Software engineers at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have proved their ingenuity with the launch of the OpenStudio update this week. The updated version of their plug-in for SketchUp, Google’s open-source 3D building modeling tool has incorporated several new features, which will facilitate architects to develop more detailed simulations of their design’s energy efficiency. NREL aims to provide the world with advanced green building design tools that are readily available at low or no cost.
The OpenStudio update is designed to work with version 4.0 of Energy Plus and compatible with Windows 7, Linux and Snow Leopard. It is integrated with Energy Plus, an energy modeling program that simulates building heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation and other energy flows. The OpenStudio plug-in will help architects in designing building with maximum energy performance.
Initially SketchUp’s integration with Google Earth helped users to visualize buildings in their real world setting by simply giving in the actual latitude and longitude information of their project site. The real-world positioning gave the exact idea about how landscape features and structures will cast shadows over the building. This gave a better idea to fine-tuning a building’s site orientation or window placement to cut energy use, or for positioning solar panels, but the new updated version will enhance its capability to another level altogether.
Presently, NREL is working towards making OpenStudio more functional and quick. The additional features incorporated are its connection with a construction-cost database to compute building costs. It has also been linked up with standards for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program. With the introduction of the new updated version of NREL’s OpenStudio plug-in, we can hope to see a greener future.