Originally published on April 4, 2016 by BNP Media through the Architectural Roofing & Waterproofing website. An adapted version of this column was featured in the Summer 2016 print issue of Architectural Roofing & Waterproofing magazine.
The building design and construction industry is becoming ever more attuned to high-performance outcomes. Design teams and clients alike are becoming ever more sophisticated with regard to building science and energy conservation measures. Consequently, there is a growing expectation that project teams leverage the tools and technical resources necessary to go beyond oversimplified rules-of-thumb toward optimized building solutions grounded in performance-driven outcomes and an integrative design process.
Increasingly, energy modeling – once the purview of engineers late in the design process – is being utilized as a decision-making tool from conceptual design through construction. An emerging marketplace of accessible software tools is liberating energy modeling opportunities for the entire design team. Thanks to these platforms, any designer can compare the performance of various design options and refine strategies. This kind of early-stage energy modeling – often referred to as design performance modeling – is simplified through basic forms, generalizations, and gross approximations, which makes it markedly different from the highly detailed comprehensive modeling effort typically executed near the end of the design process for green building certification or energy code compliance. As part of an integrative process, design performance modeling provides teams with a dynamic opportunity to compare the relative performance of different options at the earliest stages of design, when most of the major decisions are made and the consequences of significant changes are minimal.
Several software tools are available that integrate almost seamlessly into project team workflows with building information modeling (BIM). Below are five offerings specifically tailored for design professionals.