A large part of my job has always been energy modeling for new construction projects – especially LEED projects. I use the term “energy model” loosely because it encompasses so many different types of analysis (e.g. daylighting, electric lighting, thermal loads, energy performance, acoustical performance, water consumption, wind flow analysis). Specific inquiries will dictate what tools I may use for analysis (e.g. Radiance for daylighting, eQuest for energy performance). The project’s level of design development will also influence the depth of an analysis (e.g. I usually do not need specific glazing assembly data for a conceptual design-stage daylighting study).
For years, I have leaned heavily on a program called Ecotect for much of the quick, early, iterative type of energy modeling. Then a few years ago, Autodesk bought Ecotect from its developer, Square One Research, and seemingly shelved the project. I knew Autodesk had something up their sleeve, I just did not know what it was. I actually suspected that they would eventually “cannibalize” Ecotect into Revit.
Today at Greenbuild my suspicions were confirmed, but in a good way. Autodesk has recently unveiled Project Vasari – a user-friendly cousin of Ecotect Analysis that uses a graphical user interface similar to that of Revit – and this evening I received a personal demonstration of its capabilities from the folks at Autodesk.
Project Vasari is a stand-alone software platform designed to help design teams make better informed design decisions at the conceptual and schematic design stages via conceptual energy use metrics, wind tunnel analyses, solar access/radiation studies, and more. This will prove to be very important next year since LEED 2012 will begin granting credits for teams that leverage this sort of “rapid energy modeling” to optimize high-performance building design.
Amazingly, Project Vasari is (currently) available for free through Autodesk Labs. Grab it while you can at labs.autodesk.com/utilities/vasari.