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  1.  
    After relying for some time on energy assessors and freeware; as the latter seems to be drying up. We are looking at investing in some accredited SAP software to use as part of our architectural services.

    Although we would do the traditional SAP and SBEM calcs for building regs the goal is to use a tool that will inform the design process and add some more quantative data to our overal consultancy service.

    We are only a small team so can't afford big cash and would only probably need one seat, it would need to be pretty user friendly and allow us to get some presentation info off it (or the data that we could feed into a chart software package), and would need all the basic stuff including renewables contribution etc.

    Any ideas...?

    J
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2010
     
    Used to use Superheat 6 4 years ago and I would definitely not recommend that but it may well have improved.
  2.  
    So far as well as this Builddesk and JHA have been suggested... any other suggestions...?

    J
    • CommentAuthordelboy
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2010
     
    I use Elmhurst. They cost hundreds rather than thousands of pounds.

    They've recently issued an updated version of the software which I'm yet to get my head around.

    The previous version was ok without being great. Their software writers aren't very canny about sorting out bugs in the programme. Software support isn't too bad, but not 100% reliable. Around 5-6 out of 10 from me.

    I'm not familiar with other software, but I would advise you get one which has a u-value calculator built-in. I would also investigate if any software has a facility where you can change the u-value of an element, and this change cascades through all the dwellings you're measuring. For example, if you have a block of 10 flats, it would be great to see what happens if you change glazing u-value from 1.5 to 1.2 without having to adjust it on every window of every dwelling.

    Good luck.
    • CommentAuthorbatkinson
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2010
     
    try Stroma
    Their FSAP 2005 and 2009 is free
    Their U-value calculator will be released soon and that will be free as well
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2010
     
    Posted By: James Nortonthe goal is to use a tool that will inform the design process and add some more quantative data to our overal consultancy service
    Say more about what you have in mind, James?

    How about the free EIS add-on to Revit or Sketch-Up, as a preliminary design development tool - a hook to get you to buy the full v expensive s/ware.

    Free Hot3000 - seemingly the equal of EIS and Tas?
    • CommentAuthorevan
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2010
     
    IES I think Tom.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2010
     
    I never could spell in Glasweejian.
    • CommentAuthorneilu
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2010
     
    I also use Elmhurst.
    Until very recenlty it had remained pretty much the same in the 5 or so years that I've been using it. I've always found the software reliable and their technical/software support very good.
    Like delboy I'd love to be able to easily change repeating specifications in blocks of dwellings with one click rather than having to change the item for each individual dwelling, although I'm not sure if any software does this.
    The software has just been upgraded to SAP 2009 so I too am trying to get my head around it.

    I met up with another local SAP assessor yesterday who uses NHER SAP software.
    The NHER software seemed to have a slightly better screen for calculated thermal bridging.

    Another advantage of NHER is that it calcuates energy usage for other items such as cooking, etc. Although this isn't needed for SAP a number of local authorities require 10% of all energy used (including other uses such as cooking, etc) to be provided by renewables. I recently used a demo version of NHER SAP rather than my own ELmhurst software to produce a report for planning showing how to achieve this 10% as it saved me the effort having to calculate the other uses.

    However he was having problems with entering details for a Zenex gas saver which are a very useful additions to lower DER. He was supposed to assess it using the worksheet from the Appendix Q website. However BRE have not yet updated the worksheet to SAP 2009 so he can't asses it properly. He was very annoyed when I showed him that the Zenex and other Appendix Q products were already integrated directly in Elmhurst's software and took me 20 seconds to enter rather than using the very tricky Appendix Q worksheets which can take hours.

    You can download demo versions of Elmhurst and NHER software to give them a try.

    You'll also need to factor in the cost of accreditation and monitoring.

    Hope this helps.
    • CommentAuthorwookey
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2010
     
    No-one has mentioned http://www.rusfa.com/ who do relatively inexspensive software. I don't know how good their SAP tools are, but worth a look.

    This whole area is desperately in need of some good Free Software which is multiplatform (or online). Then we could all contribute and get the features people want, and get much better integration across various bits of software (without having to fork out for Bentley-grade software), and it wouldn't matter which sort of computer you use. Most of it is pretty simple stuff. I've started thinking about structure for this, and bending the ears of anyone who'll listen. If anyone here is interested in helping with such a project by providing either software or building physics expertise I'd love to hear from them. There isn't yet a project website to point to, sadly - I will do something about that soon.
    • CommentAuthorPaulD
    • CommentTimeNov 26th 2010
     
    You can try ours. We are the only develop a supporting PC and MAC.

    http://www.completepicture.co.uk/

    The free demo lets you do a design calc but not get the full reports. The full version is £95 and includes a u value calculator which links directly to the sap calc so If you change a uvalue calc the sap gets updated.

    With regard to the comment from wookey. SAP software is at least 1 man years work, why should this be free ? Furthermore the calculation itself is very dependent upon the input parameters from the user. If you create a Web-based system (which we have considered) this would require constant refreshes of the page from the webserver in order to present the correct options to the user. With current Web technology the user experience would be quite slow. This is why no one has done it.

    Regards
    Paul
    • CommentAuthorevan
    • CommentTimeNov 26th 2010 edited
     
    If many people are looking for free solution, and are prepared to put some of their own time and expertise towards an open source version, this would be beneficial for them and everyone else who needs it. I think that there are a lot of uses for such software outside of new-builds where the cost of a commercial package is justified.

    I think that it would lend itself ideally to a fairly high level language which will run on any platform, python for example, perhaps with a web interface. I have seen some quite complex open source software written like this, with surprising ease by the authors, and resulting in a very usable system.

    I'd be tempted to contribute myself once I have more time.

    Paul, I tried the Mac version of your software earlier this year. I couldn't really get started with it. Maybe it's OK if you are familiar with SAP software to start with, but I found the layout and interface quite baffling and frustrating. As well there were clearly some problems with the Mac version, as if it's not kept up to date or something. Also, I notice it's £95 per year, not once off.
    • CommentAuthorrhamdu
    • CommentTimeNov 26th 2010
     
    Open source would be good.

    Are there any intellectual property issues with the data tables?
    • CommentAuthorwookey
    • CommentTimeNov 27th 2010
     
    Paul, you don't write nice webapps by constantly refreshing the page (any more): things have moved on (see google docs for a well-done example). AJAX and a whole load of other stuff I only vaguely understand is the right sort of tech. (my lack of expertise in this area is one thing that is holding this project back - I'd love to talk to a competent web-app person about this stuff). Personally, I like an apps that can be run locally too, but if you get the UI right then it can be run remotely or locally and look essentially the same. I agree evan, python is an appropriate language for this sort of thing, and there seems to be some quite good numerical support, because all the medical research types use it. It's not at all fast, which matters for actual simulations, but we want to pass that off to C/C++ implmentations like ESP-r and other tools anyway. For most building stuff it'll be just fine.

    Please be clear about the differnce between cost-free and Libre when discussing this subject - they are not the same thing at all. If software is complex to use (and it will be for good building science, whatever we do) then plenty of people will be happy to pay to have useful work done using the software, without paying for actual copies of proprietary software, in the same way that most people pay for someone to do drawings for them, rather than do them themselves.

    Paul, the reason why an awful lot of Free Software gets developed these days, despite that fact that software development is very labour-intensive, is that overall it's more efficient. If the 20-different developers of SAP software got together to produce a nice BIM-based SAP toolset overall we'd get better software much faster (or more cheaply, probably both) due to the removal of enormous amounts of duplication of effort, and a pooling of expertise. And at least some of those people could make a living out of maintaining the software and providing services around it.

    rhamdu. There is no problem putting the co-efficients and calculations from the SAP spec into software. Or if there was then we'd make a big fuss until said problem went away because that would be ridiculous. Were you talking about some other data such as materials databases? (I have a very good how that should should be dealt with too - it is perfect for crowsourcing, but this post is long enough already).

    There is an issue of certification. You need to pay BRE a non-trivial sum of money (about a grand last time I looked), in order to be 'approved' SAP software. Obviously you can still get the sums right without that approval. Getting someone (several someones more likely) to cough up for approval wouldn't be particularly difficult if the software reached any signifcant level of popularity, I don't think.
    • CommentAuthorrhamdu
    • CommentTimeNov 27th 2010
     
    wookey, I was thinking mainly of the climatic data: monthly wind speeds and degree days.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2010
     
    Anyone know where existing software gets the climate data from, there are lots of sources, some good, some bad, some observed, some modelled. If anyone has documentation on the software that points to where they get it from let me know and I shall see what I can find out. Nearly all high quality data is independently collected but this kind of software does not need particularly high quality data. It is only the weird stuff I do that needs it by the minute.
    • CommentAuthorwookey
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2010
     
    You can buy datasets from the BRE for GBP 350 each ,http://www.passivhaus.org.uk/index.jsp?id=1747 which doesn't exactly fill me with joy.
    In Cambridge you can download data from the botanic gardens and the computer lab (daily since 1995:
    http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/research/dtg/weather/)
    You can get monthly summary data from the met office: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/stationdata/

    There are probbaly many other datasets available, of varying degrees of detail, period, aspects and accuracy.
    • CommentAuthorSigaldry
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2010 edited
     
    Weather data comes from Table 10 of SAP not from any other source - whole point of SAP is that it's a Standardised Assessment Procedure, so it doesnt matter which software is used, as long as the same inputs have been entered, the same result should come out of NHER, Elmhurst, JPA, Stroma, or whatever.

    Everything needed to create SAP algorhythms is found in the SAP worksheet and Tables really, combined with the relevant regulations document. The various SAP Software providers produce a nice shell around this to more easily allow for inputs to be entered and for reports to be produced.

    The issue is that if you want SAP's to be accepted by Building Control, they need to be done on BRE Approved software (so costs involved in getting software approved (Making sure all the test cases get the right result). Also they need to be done by a competent person who is following the correct measurement conventions

    Any normal development that complies with regulation requires an Energy Performance Certificate at As Built stage and this needs to be created using the Design Stage SAP calculation, updated to As built specification including achieved air tightness, postal address etc by an On Construction Domestic Energy Assessor.

    So any open source SAP software developed would need to be capable of producing EPC's to be of most use, but would need to only allow EPC's to be produced by an accredited assessor.

    Personally my view is that SAP calculations shouldnt be accepted by Building Control unless carried out by someone who can actually demonstrate competence (e.g. an OCDEA) as with SAP 2009 especially, it's got too complicated for someone with only half a clue to be sure of getting the right inputs and outputs. Building Control unfortunately don't seem to all have enough understanding to spot where something is wrong themselves (they have a lot of other things to consider as well after all).

    (edited for typoes)
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2010
     
    Posted By: wookeyIn Cambridge you can download data from the botanic gardens and the computer lab (daily since 1995:
    Likewise Plymouth University, from raw 5min or 10min interval data, thro various averaged - and many other sites prob
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2010 edited
     
    What is really needed is the same source that is approved, not just any old data. So does anyone know where they get the data from for their tables? Probably hidden in the documentation somewhere. I use mainly satellite data but that needs a lot of tidying up after and is not that 'old'. Though I suspect that 25 years worth is close enough to get a good enough idea.

    Maybe this would be acceptable:
      50N 5W GBP.jpg
    • CommentAuthorPaulD
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2010
     
    Wookey, Could not disagree more. In my opinion the free market with competition is what delivers the best result for the customer. Your analogies with the wider open source software market do not apply. Open source (with which we are very familiar) invariably exists as part of a large ecosystem where money can be made either supporting the package or creating add-ons for the basic free version. In most successful open source projects the market is usually very large, tens of thousands of users supported by an active community. Small open source projects are always nearly a failure.

    However this misses the point. The problem is the market for SAP software is very very small. To make matters worse there is no European market as EU members are implementing the regulations differently. Most of the current sap software vendor's originally developed their software pre 2006 and have stuck with it. It would be very difficult to write business case to justify developing new SAP software. I certainly wouldn't bother if I had to do it from scratch.
    • CommentAuthorwookey
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2010 edited
     
    "Small open source projects are always nearly a failure" eh? and " the market is usually very large, tens of thousands of users". Drivel. Absolute rot.

    So all these projects for obscure software are 'failures' are they?
    Here's three used by cave surveyors (a much smaller market than SAP software): Survex, Therion, Tunnel.
    Fontforge (not very many font designers in the world)
    Weather data software:
    http://www.smr.arpa.emr.it/software/DBalle.html
    http://www.arpa.emr.it/dettaglio_documento.asp?id=1172&idlivello=64
    http://www.ecmwf.int/products/data/software/index.html
    wdnXenon (anaesthesia workstation software)
    fuss-launcher, cget
    EDF software: BR-CICERO (PWR secondary-piping wear-rate analysis software), code-aster (power-plant sturctural analysis), Code-saturne, KB3, Risk-BU, Salome, Sim-diasca, SRTHES, TELEMAC
    And in the building area there is ESP-r, used as the basis for HOT3000

    I could go on at extraordinary length if I wanted.

    Your description of Open Source: "invariably exists as part of a large ecosystem where money can be made either supporting the package or creating add-ons for the basic free version" is one of business models, not one of software. Not all software needs a direct business model to be sustained. Much software is simply useful to people, and those people maintain it. It is usually better if they do this collectively, rather than individually. I see absolutely no reason why this shouldn't be true in the building energy-analysis field.

    As I'm sure you agree, the size of a software market is only relevant if you are trying to sell software. I'm not at all interested in selling software, merely in it's utility.

    You manage to claim in one post that the best software is produced by competition and yet none of this software has been developed noticeably since 2006, which seems somewhat tautologous. And certainly competition isn't serving Linux users very well at all as exactly none of the available SAP programs run on that OS, so I can't usefully buy one even if I wanted or needed to.

    And yes it may be hard to make a business case for writing new SAP software but that's not the same as saying some wouldn't be useful, and that it's utility wouldn't be improved by a Libre licence. So I guess we are in agreement that writing more proprietary SAP software would be pointless. Where we differ is on whether writing some FLOSS SAP software would be useful or not.
    • CommentAuthorSigaldry
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2010
     
    Wookey said:

    "And yes it may be hard to make a business case for writing new SAP software but that's not the same as saying some wouldn't be useful, and that it's utility wouldn't be improved by a Libre licence. So I guess we are in agreement that writing more proprietary SAP software would be pointless. Where we differ is on whether writing some FLOSS SAP software would be useful or not."

    Personally I don't think the exercise is worth it - some of the SAP software providers already provide free or demo versions of their software which would do for people who just want to 'tinker'.

    For more involved software, as per my earlier post (several above), you would need to go through the BRE approval process (which will cost) and to be of any use, would need to get an accreditation body to support it for EPC production (more costs involved).

    I agree open source software is well worthwhile (have openoffice at home - very good and useful). Just in this particular niche, there's a reasonable number of options already available and only a limited number of users
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2010 edited
     
    Posted By: SigaldryJust in this particular niche, there's a reasonable number of options already available and only a limited number of users


    Reminds me of the story about the shoe salesman in Malaya, he got sent there and found no one wore shoes so came home. Said to his colleague that it was a pointless place to sell shoes. His colleague went over with a huge container of shoes and sold the lot.

    If a market is not big enough, make it bigger. Sell the benefits not the product. So this SAP business is specialist is it. Not if we want to do energy audits on our own homes, seems very valid to have some open source, easy to use and understand software then we can all compare out buildings and see how we are doing against the norm.
    Bring it on I say.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2010
     
    At the beginning I asked
    Posted By: fostertom
    Posted By: James Nortonthe goal is to use a tool that will inform the design process and add some more quantative data to our overal consultancy service
    Say more about what you have in mind, James?
    • CommentAuthorSigaldry
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2010
     
    @ Steamytea

    The thing is - it's not simple... simplifying would just make the answer less correct. What's the point of everyone comparing their inaccurately measured buildings?

    The whole point of the change from SAP 9.70 to 9.80 to 9.90 has been to make it all more accurate.

    RDSAP is supposedly simple for existing homes and even that's fairly complex and woefully inaccurate imho.

    By all means create an open source set of software based on RDSAP for existing dwellings - but preferably make it more accurate than it currently is. It needs something more accurate than currently available for sure.

    If that was available for public use purely as a - what approximate benefit would i gain if i were to do x, y, z, I could see the value.

    As i noted in my post - there is already BRE approved free software available for those who want to download it - try and work it out and get an idea of where they are and what extra they need to do.

    The SAP 2005 and 2009 documents are free to download for anyone, Building regulations are free to download for anyone - The fact that (some) software and the documents are freely available however doesn't make it all simple though. There are measurement conventions to follow and the information being available doesnt mean that the average layman will understand it all.

    There's a computing term called GIGO - Garbage In = Garbage Out, which I think applies to your idea of everyone doing energy audits on their own homes.

    "On two occasions I have been asked,—"Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." Charles Babbage (Quoted lifted from wikipedia).

    There's a couple more quotes I can think of would apply to everyone doing their own energy audits, especially if any financial benefit were to come from same (sale of house, government grants or whatever):

    "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity" Robert A Heinlein

    and

    "Everybody Lies" House, M.D.

    Sigaldry :)
  3.  
    The thing is whilst we pride ourselves on being able to offer high quality strategic level advice in terms of green building, we need to add a bit more rigour to this and are also increasingly relying on third parties to 'do the calcs' for work generally irrespective of the verdant hue.

    Whilst SAP is a bit pants as a true design tool, as long as we are aware of the limitations, it is simple, well known and most importantly intrinsic to most issues of compliance in the UK I thought it would be somewhere to start, but am open to options.

    J
    • CommentAuthorbrig001
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010
     
    Knauf used to have an online SAP calculator, but have sold it to http://www.energydesigntools.co.uk/
    They have a free trial offer, but the full version costs £250 per year, so it's out of my budget. The Knauf version was quite easy to use, but I have no idea if this is the same or not.
    Brian.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010
     
    James, do you work in 3D CAD? If so then as I said earlier,

    Posted By: fostertomHow about the free IES add-on to Revit or Sketch-Up, as a preliminary design development tool - a hook to get you to buy the full v expensive s/ware.

    Free Hot3000 - seemingly the equal of IES and Tas?
  4.  
    We are looking at EIS for sketchup as we often do preliminary work with SU, switching to 2D CAD for 'drawings'.

    However I can't seem to work out what we'd need to buy, and how much.

    The structure seems to be that each module has about two thirds of what you need, with the next one having two thirds of of the remainder of what you needed and so on until you have to get the all singing and dancing super edition to get 100% of what you wanted plus a whole load of stuff that's way beyond what you needed. Also no indication of price that I could see....

    HOT3k looks great for the price but not sure if we could use it for conventional compliance requirements, also needs to be simple enough for anyone in the office to pick up quickly, not sure how H3k is on that score, wher is PinM when you need him...

    J
   
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