Energy Simulation Packages Updated
In dueling March 17, 2009, announcements, leading building information modeling (BIM) software companies Autodesk and Bentley Systems staked out their positions in the energy simulation race. Autodesk established its dominance in tools for architects and engineers to use on design sketches, and Bentley solidified its claim on tools for engineers to use with more fully developed designs.
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Autodesk, which dominates the market for building design software with its AutoCAD and Revit products, released new pricing for the Ecotect software that the company purchased last year from its creator, Andrew Marsh. Ecotect is no longer sold for single users—it is available only through a network license that sells for $3,995 with an optional $725 annual subscription for updates and customer service. The big news is that the annual subscription now includes use of Autodesk’s Green Building Studio web-based energy modeling service, which previously cost $4,995 per year.
Both Ecotect and Green Building Studio are best suited for quick feedback on design options explored before the design is fully developed. “Ecotect stands alone in its ability to represent complex analysis results in a way that is easy for people to understand,” claims Kyle Bernhardt, industry product manager for Building Engineering at Autodesk. Green Building Studio runs on the more robust DOE-2 simulation engine to handle more complex analyses. For verifying the compliance with codes or standards later in the design process, Autodesk directs users to third-party solutions, such as eQuest.
Bentley Systems, a dominant player in software for infrastructure design, released the newly branded Bentley Energy Performance Series. This suite of tools includes Bentley Tas Simulator V8i, Hevacomp Simulator V8i, and Hevacomp Mechanical Designer V8i, all of which Bentley began importing from the U.K. in 2008 and has now customized for North American users.
The Hevacomp tools are built around the U.S. Department of Energy’s latest simulation engine, EnergyPlus, which offers power and flexibility but slows down when dealing with large files. Tas Simulator V8i solves that problem with a leaner simulation engine that can quickly go through multiple design options even on the most complex buildings, according to Bentley. All of these tools require specialized training and are intended for engineers who are working on designs that include mechanical systems. “While Autodesk has come out with a lot of the very early-stage tools, we’ve entered with the more detailed tools and are working back towards the front end,” noted Noah Eckhouse, Bentley’s vice president of the Building Performance Group. The tools can be purchased separately or bundled (with each other and/or with Bentley’s other products); pricing depends on the number of users.
Copyright 2009 by BuildingGreen, LLC