ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 64 - 07/16/2010

Advances Reported in Various Green Building Computer Programs, BIM

Several entities recently announced developments involving green building programs and building information modeling (BIM) technology. Such entities include Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd. (IES), GreenWizard Inc., InPro Corp., and the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).

IES, a provider of integrated performance analysis software and consulting services for sustainable building design, June 22 released version 6.1 of its software suite, called "V6.1 of the IES Virtual Environment (VE) suite."


New features, which improve technical functionality and user experience, include plug-in enhancements to facilitate better model transfer, a new Bio-Climatic feature within VE-Gaia, and advanced thermal, HVAC, and bulk airflow features within VE-Pro, according to IES.


"These new features continue our drive to open up the sustainable low-energy design power of VE software to a wider user base, enabling the quantitative understanding of building energy performance to become a collaborative effort between architects and engineers," IES stated. The IES VE technology fosters energy-efficient building design, reduced carbon-dioxide emissions, and better use of low-carbon technologies and renewable energy. The technology can be used on new builds, refurbishment projects, and in-use evaluation to answer key sustainable design questions.


The four-tier IES VE product structure (VE-Ware, VE-Toolkits, VE-Gaia, and VE-Pro), and tight integration with Google SketchUp, Autodesk Revit, Graphisoft ArchiCAD, and other CAD programs allows building designers to quickly and easily undertake iterative and quantitative analysis directly from design models right from the earliest stages, IES said.  New features within V6.1 include the following:

  • Enhanced IESVE Plug-ins/Model Transfer
  • V3 of the IES SketchUp Plug-in now includes "groups and components" features and "thick wall" capabilities.
  • V3 of the IES Revit Plug-in now includes enhancements "behind the scenes" to improve gbXML geometry transport from Revit using a room-healing algorithm. This has also been applied to ArchiCad and other gbXML imports.
  • VE-Gaia Bio-Climatic Analysis
  • A "simple-to-use" tool that steers concept urban, built form, and design strategy worldwide using climate data.
  • Focused on low-energy and passive options, it automatically derives, from a user-selected weather file an "extensive" set of design suggestions based on an understanding of climate and environment.
  • It removes barriers that currently limit the use of bio-climatic theory by stripping away the complex knowledge and time required to undertake the process manually.
  • VE-Pro: MacroFlo (bulk airflow analysis)
  • New opening types for natural ventilation analysis enables users to automatically define realistic pressure drops and flow rates from real world data when information is otherwise unavailable. Aerodynamic-free area is automatically calculated.
  • VE-Pro: ApacheSim (dynamic thermal simulation)
  • A new simulation calendar for easy setting and editing of working week and holiday data, including Middle East working week and import function for national holidays.
  • Enhanced fuel types and regional carbon emission settings. Carbon factors automatically can be set based on geographic location, and multiple editable fuel options allow detailed monitoring.
  • A new ability to edit multiple surfaces as "underground" allows "easy" exclusion from solar gain simulations.
  • VE-Pro: ApacheHVAC (systems, operation and control)
  • A new Radiant Floors surface temperature controller allows close and "smart" control of heated/cooled slabs.
  • New ASHRAE loads and system sizing facilitates autosizing of HVAC components.

In an interview with Green Building Insider, IES Chief Executive Officer Don McLean provided the following other information about V6.1:


GBI: How will the availability of this product be promoted to prospective customers?


McLean: We tend to focus on using a combination of direct sales, online demos, eshots, and information distributed via our social media platforms and blog. As there are a lot of new features in this release, we will be focusing on specifics in more detail over the coming months. For example, you can now see videos showing the V6.1 updates to our SketchUp plug-in on YouTube:


GBI: What information can you provide in terms of sales expectations for the new version of this product suite, the number of people who are expected to use the new software, etc.? What comparable information can you provide for the previous software suite?


McLean: The majority of our software license options cover version updates, and so we expect most of our existing customers to upgrade to this latest version. Founded 15 years ago, our robust and proven software has already become the most respected analysis package in the United Kingdom and is rapidly gaining global recognition, particularly within North America and Australia. Our software is currently used in over 130 countries throughout the world. Ten out of the top 10 U.K. engineers, 10 out of the top 10 U.K. consultants, and seven out of the top 10 U.K. architects use our software. With its enhancements to our SketchUp plug-in, new Bio-Climatic features for VE-Gaia, and the 60-percent-off offer on our VE-toolkits, we also expect this version to attract interest from and increase our share in the early stage architectural market.


GBI: When is the next upgrade scheduled to be released? What improvements might it include?


McLean: Our next major release is due in autumn of this year and will focus on some new and exciting tools specifically for the North American market as well as updates to our U.K. compliance solutions to coincide with the new 2010 regulations coming into force later this year. Other new features will be focused around other global ‘green building' regulations and rating systems.


GBI: Other comments?


McLean: Described as 'the leading vendor in the performance analysis field' by AECBytes (2009) and an 'industry pioneer' by BDCNetwork (2009), we are at the forefront of sustainable building design innovation, and we are continually pushing new boundaries to make performance analysis an integral part of the design process. We have offices or a presence in the U.K. and Ireland, Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East and are a global vendor of software tools and consultancy services that assists architects and engineers to design low-energy sustainable buildings.


GreenWizard Releases ‘Workflow Pro' Online Green Product Search and Documentation Tool
GreenWizard Inc. -- a Web-based system that allows architects, engineers, and contractors to cross-search, compare, and document products for LEED and green commercial construction -- in June announced that its Workflow Pro product is now available online.


Users of Workflow Pro can begin to build and document construction projects. Once a project is started, users can search for building products in the GreenWizard database based on product category, region, green attributes, and GreenRank. Then, the user can save the identified products to specific projects as well as add and save supplemental products that may or may not be in GreenWizard's database. Users of Workflow Pro soon will be able to view product documentation, e.g. BIM, product specs, cutsheets, etc.


Upon completion of the project, users will be able to automatically generate LEED documentation for submission to LEED online.  GreenWizard also provides all users with an "opt-in" searchable "service provider directory" to assist in finding talent for projects.  GreenWizard rolled out Workflow Pro a few weeks after it received its second round of venture funding. More than 800 manufacturers have loaded products into the GreenWizard database.  There are about 200 AEC firms are using the GreenWizard's functionality to build more than 77 new construction projects worth more than $250 million.
InPro Finishes Phase One of ‘Industry's Greenest BIM Objects'
InPro Corp. earlier this month announced it has finished Phase 1 of its BIM library with the completion of its entire line modeled in standard resolution Autodesk Revit objects. In addition, the company will incorporate its new BioPolyPETG+ material specifications in all applicable interior protection BIM objects by July 1.


To meet the needs of architects and contractors, InPro committed to producing two levels of BIM object sophistication. "In planning our BIM library, we consulted with several architects and contractors to determine how they use the objects," said Larry Dronek, vice president of marketing for InPro. "They told us they don't like BIM objects that are too complex or ‘loaded,' which slows their system performance. But, they do want significant detail available when the more-advanced design stages call for it.


"We've now completed what we're calling ‘standard resolution' BIM files for basic design work. We'll now move on to complete Phase 2, which will include high-resolution Revit models as well as the build-out of Graphisoft ArchiCAD and Bentley BIM objects.  The company expects Phase 2 completion sometime in the fall.  InPro will add its new BioPolyPETG+ material specifications and information in all applicable door and wall protection BIM objects by July 1.


"We launched a revolutionary new material for interior protection products back in March," Dronek said. "We're now incorporating BioPolyPETG+ material attributes and specifications in our BIM objects. On July 1, architects will simply point and click to download the industry's greenest BIM objects."


Design-Build Perspectives on BIM Use Sought
DBIA has joined other U.S. construction organizations to support McGraw-Hill Construction in an industry-wide survey of BIM on sustainable or green projects.  The survey is expected to be one of the most comprehensive looks at BIM usage on sustainable projects to date.


DBIA urged design-build professionals to participate in the project. "If you are not currently using BIM on sustainable projects, you will be asked what enhancements in BIM software would increase its value on these projects. If you currently use BIM on sustainable projects, you will be asked what aspects of BIM are most useful on these projects and what needs improvement."


The survey is online at:




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