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  1.  
    What's the best modelling software...?

    1. Free / cheap (for me)

    2. Paid for (for work)

    J
  2.  
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     
    Well i asked for this category specifically for this type of question so good on you. The other thread doesnt seem to get to a point of any definitive answer and i think its going to end up being a ford vs vauxhall type scenario.
    i think your question really is what about modeling simulation for the occasional user as we start moving towards generating that type of information for clients and planners. I know IES provide a full student version of VE or £50/year. Some input into the lower cost software would be great as we start to dip our toes.
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008 edited
     
    Maybe keith could look into publishing an article on thermal modeling similar to the hydrogen fuel cell feature. hint hint.
    http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=616&page=1#Item_29
    Some cost benefit analysis for domestic and commercial work would be ideal. i.e For single dwellings "abcd" should provide all you need and for anything bigger/ more complex use a specialist in "wxyz"
    As tom's pointed out it is some serious investment and you dont want to be stuck with betamax when everyone else has vhs.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008 edited
     
    From http://www.aecb.net/forum/index.php?topic=1382.0 :

    fostertom wrote:

    Bentley (Microstation) have just bought Hevacomp http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Corporate/News/Quarter+1/Hevacomp.htm?skid=CEE_NA_COR_BN_76_080130&MIG=

    Tony Baxter, former managing director of Hevacomp and now Bentley Building’s director of product management for building services and energy analysis ..........

    "Hevacomp is at the forefront of simulation for building energy analyses, incorporating in its offerings the EnergyPlus engine, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, and software certified to perform CO2 emissions calculations required under Part L of the U.K. building regulations ....."

    What's the nature of the EnergyPlus engine - dynamic? any good? I'd had a hunch that Bentley were about to buy Tas but sadly not, it seems.

    -----------------------------------------

    Mark Siddall wrote:

    As far as I know EnergyPlus is meant to be the most detailed dynamic analysis going, it can run calcs by the minute and thus takes agaes to process. (I think you can adjust the calc. cycle to hours if you want.) To be useful EnergyPlus requires a good front end i.e. interface whether HevaComp achieves this I don't know (all that I have heard that is that it is more suited to engineers than architects).

    Eco-Tect is achitect friendly but lacks any real bite (it uses the CIBSE Admittance Method.) I have alwyas thought that Eco-tect would be great if it integrated PHPP/achieve PH certification for its calc proceedures. This would really assist easy but suitably accurate calcs (except over heating calcs which steady state models are not so good at.)

    I heard that AutoCAD have been sniffing around Building Integrated Modelling as well.

    Finally, as always it is only as accurate as the person entering the data.

    -------------------------------------------

    fostertom wrote:

    Thanks Mark.

    BIM as I understand it hasn't been (till maybe near future) about integrating-in thermal modelling; it's the breed of Architectural CAD that places 'intelligent' 3D objects rather than just draw lines. It builds a 3D model that all the various professions, trades, processes etc involved in building can use as a common basis, and add their own stuff, so everyone can see and share it. Great idea but been 15yrs and still not quite there. Archicad is that, so is Autocad's Revit and also (incompatible) Architectural Desktop, so is Bentley (Microstation) Triforma. Some especially Revit also incorporate serious geometry-parametrics, so you can grab and pull the model and (with luck) everything reshapes itself and stays connected. The new thing on the horizon is vastly beefed-up parametrics, led by Bentley Generative Components, that can incorporate non-geometric 'rules' etc as parametric elements that can also govern how the model reconfigures itself when you grab and pull it. All the data of a thermal modeller is just such a set of non-geometric 'rules'. So it's been interesting that Bentley seem to have been sniffing aroung Tas but have settled for Hevacomp, presumably (hopefully) to knock into shape and integrate into Generative Components, if not bread-and-butter Triforma. Archicad have integrated-in Eco-Tect, and Autocad can't be far behind. Latest is that Robert Aish, Bentley's (British) chief boffin, the father of Generative Components, has just jumped ship to Autocad. To my disappointment, as I'm a Microstation man at heart, presently 'stuck' with Autocad because it's the line of least resistance. There's much latest news and info about all this on www.aecmag.com.

    -------------------------------------------

    In the running (posh end) AFAIK is Tas, IES, Hot3000 (not Hot2000) and possibly (or potentially, with Bentley's backing) Hevacomp EnergyPlus. Note that all four (incl Canadian Hot3000's engine) are British! Well, Hevacomp is a British co, but EnergyPlus is American.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     
    Rumoured newest entry into the BIM (Building Information Model) + thermal modelling arena is IBM/Dassault. Their Catia is high-end, very expensive software for Aerospace/Automotive. With Frank Gehry, an architectural variant has been developed, which is aimed at big, engineered building projects, whether complex but rational like Foster's Swiss Re ('gherkin') in the City of London, or Eden Project, (which I love), or Gehry's typical capricious freeform mega-monsters. These extraordinary shapes are made from numerous 3D components, all slightly unique, which click perfectly together to make the shape. Catia's sophistication is great for that because for example CNC manufacturing data can be output direct from the model. Seems that Dassault had a stake in developing Revit, the present best parametric AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) software, before it was swallowed by Autodesk (Autocad), and believe they can now do even better, at the same time currently releasing a 'Catia Lite' to compete with mid-range Autocad, Microstation etc.

    The point is that a IBM/Dassault BIM offering would certainly incorporate all sorts of rule-based, as well as geometric parametrics, including thermal modelling. No-one could do it better - it's the very stuff of Areospace/Automotive.
    • CommentAuthorSaint
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     
    I've used this company and their software on a couple of major projects.
    Good for presenting the data especially the dynamic 3D images
    http://www.physibel.be/
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008 edited
     
    edited
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     
    Posted By: Sainthttp://www.physibel.be/
    Wow, any good? or do you have to be a M.Sc. to make sense of it?
    • CommentAuthorSaint
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     
    Tom, it can't be that bad, even I can understand it ...err....eventually.
    The thumbnails all indicate different programs that operate in different forms of energy transfer within construction. Check out Voltra for solar heating for example. The guys at Physibel worked on a couple of reports for me where we needed to prove to the client the failings in his original insulation specification. The graphics worked very well and cost compared to contract value was minimal. Download the free software (14MB!) and have a fiddle round with it
    • CommentAuthorstephendv
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2008
     
    As the future owner of a new build, I'm currently using the Passive House Planning Package. For a layman, and a novice in all things building related, it was extremely easy to get going and build a working model of my future home. Since it's an excel spreadsheet, the interface was easy to use and didn't require any CAD work (this may be a limitation if your design is geometrically complicated). It comes with climatic data for many regions in the Europe and the US and allowed me to very quickly start tweaking the variables and play "what if" scenarios. At 130 euros the price is also very reasonable for a self builder. There's even a demo version available free of charge from the passive-on web site to get an idea on what it can and can't do.
    http://www.passive-on.org/en/planning_package.php
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     
    Thats an interesting link stephen but differs from most o fthe the software being discussed above as this would produces results from simulated calculation similar to sap and sbem software (i believe). but a useful and well priced tool.
    Just to clarify for readers the modeling software discussed up there is:
    Hevacomp : http://www.hevacomp.com/simulation.htm
    IES : http://www.iesve.com/content/default.asp
    Tas : http://www.edsl.zenwebhosting.com/
    Ecotect : http://squ1.com/products/ecotect
    Physibel : http://physibel.be
    Hot3000 : http://www.sbc.nrcan.gc.ca/software_and_tools/hot3000_e.asp again i think this is calculation rather than dynamic simulation modelling
    International building performance simulation association : http://www.ibpsa.org/
  3.  
    Thanks ali. The last link is particularly useful, as it gives access to many conference papers on the subject of simulation
  4.  
    Posted By: ali.gillHot3000 :http://www.sbc.nrcan.gc.ca/software_and_tools/hot3000_e.asp" >http://www.sbc.nrcan.gc.ca/software_and_tools/hot3000_e.aspagain i think this is calculation rather than dynamic simulation modelling


    It's simulation-based (though, of course, simulation requires calculation).
    In HOT3000™, the bin-based energy analysis core of HOT2000™ is replaced with the more flexible and expandable ESP-r energy analysis engine developed by the University of Strathclyde. Because the engine is based on a small time-step approach, the software is able to model more complex physical house systems and heat transfer processes. This allows both a broader and finer resolution to the simulation.


    Paul in Montreal.
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     
    Any thoughts on the best terms for describing these differing technologies to help clarification. i'm working off the cibse accredited assessor terms of 'calculation' for sbem and equivalent spreadsheet tools and 'modeling' or dynamic system/simulation modeling (dsm) for the parametric geometry which i assume is database driven calculations rather than spreadsheets.
    does hot3000 have its own modeling tool or does it import geometry or both ??

    catia - theres an article here on dassaults catia product release:
    http://www.mcadonline.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=513

    this a good looking brochure on dynamic simulation thats a couple of years old but gives an insight into simulation in the engineering field - its a bit big so stick the kettle on.
    http://www.mscsoftware.com/support/msc_institute/catalog/MSC_TrainingCatalog_2005.pdf
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     
    Posted By: Paul in Montreal
    In HOT3000™, the bin-based energy analysis core of HOT2000™ ......
    What's 'bin-based' mean?
    Posted By: ali.gill.... and 'modeling' or dynamic system/simulation modeling (dsm) for the parametric geometry which i assume is database driven calculations
    How do you mean, parametric geometry, in this context?

    Yes, that mcad article's where I got it from!
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008
     
    parametric geometry - in the same term as you use further up in your dialogue with mark siddall when describing revit as using geometry parametrics - produced in advance and imported, or generated within an integral modeler as csg - constructive solid geometry or b-rep - boundary representation.
    in the context above i simply mean 3d modeling used in tools such as revit and imported into ies ve. not just for thermal modeling but the full range of analysis tools.
    put me right if i've misunderstood tom. its the paralletic modeling in high street on saturday night thats still stuck in my mind.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2008 edited
     
    I see, it's just that 3D modelling isn't necessarily (or usually, apart from in Revit) geometry-parametric, and building thermal simulation modelling isn't (so far) data-parametric (or rule-driven). I'm saying if building thermal simulation were added to say Generative Components or the lookalikes that the majors are no doubt working on, both building geometry and building thermal simulation might become parametric together. Then, just as in Revit you can change wide areas of geometry by just e.g. pulling an element with the mouse, and everything else reshapes itself according to pre-specified and/or implied geometry rules (parameters), to desired shape,
    so also the building could be reshaped, or element descriptions (e.g. wall materials and thicknesses buildup - plaster, on block, insul in cavity .... etc) could be altered, driven by thermal behaviour rules, to desired thermal performance.
    But generally, without parametrics, you have to manually construct the 3D geometry, then manually specify the element descriptions, then run the simulation, then if modification's needed, you have to manually alter the model, manually re-specify the element descriptions, then run the simulation again ... and again .... You're iteratively doing in your mind what can, I'm hoping, with the amazing parametric cleverness built into the likes of Generative Components, be formalised, scripted and automated.
    So that geometric building shapes, also building material specifications, can be allowed to generate and 'grow' themselves! That's what the clever chaps in the Smarty Geometry Group are learning to do, using Generative Components for the time being, as there's nothing else like it so far. But all this power is applicable to 'normal' building, as well as to the vast show-off freeform 'signature' buildings, bridges, stadia etc that it's been used for so far. GC is now out of beta and available for a free 3months trial, thereafter I heard only a few hundred dollars in US, runs on top of Bentley Building, which runs on top of Bentley Triforma, which runs on top of Bentley Microstation!
  5.  
    Tom,

    that sounds like a very interesting idea. Since the ESP-r core of hot3000 is open source, it could be possible for someone to do this.

    As for your earlier question about "bin-based" simulation, it's a trick where time is broken down into chunks (bins) and computations are limited to the parameters that the bins represent. A 24-hour diurnal variation in insolation and temperature might be broken down into 8 bins for the daylight hours and only 2 or three bins for overnight. The result is an approximation that's pretty close to reality but with much less computation required than if a finer-grained analysis was performed. Kind of analogous to how the weather forecast uses grid points - the finer the grid the more computation required but the more accurate the result. The bin-based models in hot2000 (for example) were verified against real test houses over periods of a couple of years, but aren't as accurate as the analysis engine (ESP-r) in hot3000.

    Paul in Montreal.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 19th 2008
     
    So there's no abs distinction between bin-based and dynamic (continuous) modelling - it's just the time slices get finer grained?
    •  
      CommentAuthoragu
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2008
     
    Is this Hot3000 software free and you just download and teach yourself sort of thing?
  6.  
    Posted By: aguIs this Hot3000 software free and you just download and teach yourself sort of thing?


    Yes, as is hot2000 and hot2xp. Hot2xp has a simplified user interface that makes it quicker to enter the details of your building. I believe that the "house" files produced by hot2000 and hot2xp can be imported into hot3000 as the graphical front-end is the same, just the underlying simulation engine is different. There are weather files for various European locations included in the download - and these can be edited if required.

    Paul in Montreal.
    •  
      CommentAuthoragu
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2008
     
    Thanks Paul - looks like my Easter weekend is sorted teaching myself Hot3000!
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2008
     
    Question is, does Hot3000 have the full capabilities of its ESP-r behind-the-scenes engine, or is it limited to the concepts and tricks that the superimposed front end/interface that is Hot 3000, will do? If yes, full set, then Hot3000 would seem to be the answer, as ESP-r is rumoured to be even stronger than Tas, and it's free! Actually, is it free for commercial use? Tell us what it's like, agu.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2008
     
    Posted By: fostertomIBM/Dassault. Their Catia is high-end, very expensive software for Aerospace/Automotive. With Frank Gehry, an architectural variant has been developed, which is aimed at big, engineered building projects, whether complex but rational like Foster's Swiss Re ('gherkin') in the City of London, or Eden Project, (which I love), or Gehry's typical capricious freeform mega-monsters
    Here's one of the latter, co-architected with Greg Lynn: http://img.stern.de/_content/57/42/574258/Insel230_500.jpg - see http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3109163&origin=BDweeklydigest
  7.  
    Tom,

    the full ESP-r engine is in hot3000 - though I'm not sure how complex a geometry of house can be entered through the GUI. The other use of the GUI is in reporting the results and doing "what if" comparisons for different upgrades and it also calculates the payback time for said upgrades. It's very interesting to take any house model and play around with adding a HRV and changing the air leakage values. Same thing with hot2000 actually. Both programs print out monthly data for a whole year of simulation. I believe there are models for different types of renewables included too like PV and solar hot water. They're certainly fun programs to play with once you get the hang of them.

    In my case, the figures from hot2000 are within 5% of my measured consumption over a period of 3 years so this gives me confidence that the modelling is reasonable - though I did have a blower door test done to be able to include accurate air leakage figures. Like any program, the more accurate the input data, the more accurate the output results. This is probably the most difficult aspect.

    Paul in Montreal.
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2008
     
    i wonder if theres any chance of hot3000 becoming an approved software on the clg list
    http://www.cibse.org/index.cfm?go=page.view&item=969

    without that it becomes just a (very useful) tool to back up design calcs and instinct. would be interesting to do a like for like comparison of results using h3000 and approved rdsap, sap and sbem software... any takers ?
    maybe if we ask nicely gb mag can pay someone to do it as research for an article on energy perf. assessment.
    - could be interesting - especially with the proliferation of epc's using assumption built into the software methods above about to hit the u.k industry.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 21st 2008
     
    Acronyms, ali - clg? epc?
    •  
      CommentAuthorali.gill
    • CommentTimeMar 22nd 2008
     
    sorry tom,
    i'll start a new thread on that.
    clg communities and local government
    epc energy performance certifcate
    • CommentAuthorGHC
    • CommentTimeMar 31st 2008
     
    Would i be able to ask if its allowed for a general view of which packages are the most user friendly and produce the most ledgable results? As a bit of back ground i have just come from using Superheat which has just been taken over and made redundant by Elmhurst. I am now looking to make the best decision possible for domestic energy assessing with view to expand as far as i can go into part L Calcs. Many thanks for any help, i am quite lost! Peter.
   
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