Free Energy Analysis with IES VE-Ware
by Kenneth Wong
Dr. Don McLean, founder and CEO of Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), believes every architect should have the ability to understand the environmental impact of his or her building design. To realize this vision, McLean is prepared to give architects free access to some of the most basic features of his company's Virtual Environment software suite.
About a year ago, IES released VE-Ware, a free program for measuring buildings' carbon output and energy consumption. In the company's announcement, McLean said, "When I founded IES in 1994, my aim was to develop what were primarily academic tools and bring them into mainstream use."
VE-Ware is not an architectural modeling program; you can use it in conjunction with Autodesk Revit or Google SketchUp.
Google has made SketchUp a household name among architects. In the last several years, the search-engine giant's intuitive 3D program has emerged as the preferred package for concept development. With SketchUp and VE-Ware both distributed for free, architects now have a way to quickly assess their designs' environmental impacts — without spending a dime.
Used in combination, SketchUp and VE-Ware make energy analysis literally a one-click process, reducing its complexity to a series of site location, mechanical system, and building material inputs.
What You Need
To tap into the energy-analysis functions in IES VE-Ware, you need to be running SketchUp 6 or 7 (either the free or the professional version). You can download and install VE-Ware from IES's free and trial software page. VE-Ware is compatible with Microsoft Windows XP (SP2, SP3) and Vista operating systems, both the 32- and the 64-bit versions. The installation adds a VE-Ware toolbar in your copy of SketchUp, allowing you to inspect your SketchUp 3D architectural models for energy efficiency and carbon emissions.
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