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SketchUp Meg

4th October 2010

When looking at performance analysis software, Integrated Environmental Solutions, Ltd. (IES) should to be mentioned at the top of the discussion. Since 1994, the Scotland-based company has been an industry leader in building performance analysis, thanks to its software. This has continued with IES’ partnership with Google, bringing high-level performance analysis to SketchUp.

As the dangers of climate change become more apparent, builders are more conscious of the effects their structures have on the environment. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that CO2 emissions from buildings increased by 75 percent between 1970-2004.

On average, green buildings use 30 percent less energy than regular structures. With IES software, the energy savings potential is much higher. Launched for SketchUp in August 2008, the IESVE plug-in links to all of IES’ tools through a simple toolbar –offering designers the choice to engage in performance analysis at the earliest stage of a design.

The IES modeling method enables an ‘Integrated Design’ approach, helping enhance early stage analysis to quantify impact and ease the information-exchange process. Factors such as climate, energy use, material performance, and all their interrelationships, are taken into account, allowing the ‘virtual’ testing of scenarios. It also includes a number of functions linked to SketchUp’s ‘Google Earth’ capabilities, allowing users to set their project’s location, and import models of surrounding buildings and terrain for use in analysis; assisting in achieving LEED and other regulation compliance.

The IES takes a four-tier approach, starting at ground level with VE-Ware (Tier 1). This tool allows users to conduct basic carbon and energy analysis on their designs. VE-Toolkits (Tier 2) offers more indicative analysis options, all at the touch of a few buttons, and standardized data sets for early stage work. VE-Gaia (Tier 3) offers navigator step-by-step workflow and QA functionality for more comprehensive analysis. Finally, users can use VE-Pro (Tier 4) for a full building performance checkup, including detailed integrated analysis, from energy and solar to water usage, value, and cost.

Perhaps best for beginners, SketchUp and IES VE-Ware offer the market free solutions for basic performance analysis. Thanks to feedback from users, the plug-in has been updated to include new features, making the integration tighter.

The industry has reacted enthusiastically. “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,” said Kenneth Wong of Architecture Week.

"With SketchUp, we dreamed of a simple tool that would give people the ability to think fast and iterate often on complex building design problems,” said John Bacus of Google’s SketchUp team. “With this release, IES is plugging a set of energy analysis tools into SketchUp at just the right level of complexity— enabling designers to think not just about how a building might look, but also how it will perform in a sustainable world."

As performance analysis technology continues to advance, SketchUp users will continue to reap huge benefits from using IESVE. IES’ partnership with Google SketchUp will continue to provide designers with high-quality tools for building performance analysis, helping to make their projects greener and more efficient.

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