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AES

Architectural Environmental Simulator for Architecture Students

Scoping Study
Ben CROXFORD1, Robert THUM1,
Martin OLIVER2, Stephen GAGE3
1

BARTLETT SCHOOL OF GRADUATE STUDIES


1-19 TORRINGTON PLACE,
2

EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT


1-19 TORRINGTON PLACE,
3

BARTLETT SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE


WATES HOUSE, GORDON STREET
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
LONDON.
WC1E 6BT

1.

Introduction and Aims ............................................................................................. 3

2.

Environmental analysis of designs........................................................................... 4

3.

What environmental aspects can be modelled?...................................................... 5


Features of an environmental simulator: TAS Building Designer.................................................... 6
Heating & Cooling Loads with annual Energy Demand .................................................................. 7
Evaluating Ventilation Regimes ....................................................................................................... 8
Part L: Carbon Performance Rating ................................................................................................. 8
Daylight in a virtual environment with Lightscape .......................................................................... 8

4.

What are the problems of existing packages .......................................................... 9

5.

Specification for the proposed AES (Architects Environmental Simulator) ..... 9

6.

Implementation ....................................................................................................... 10

7.

Case study:............................................................................................................... 11
Example 1: Modelling heat gain..................................................................................................... 11

8.
9.

Conclusions and future work ................................................................................. 13


Appendix.................................................................................................................. 14
Literature List............................................................................................................................... 14
List of existing software packages ............................................................................................... 16

1.

Introduction and Aims

The increasing interdependence between building fabric and environmental conditioning


results from a need to reduce energy consumption in buildings.
Lighting becomes natural rather than artificial. Heat comes from occupants and the sun.
Cooling occurs by exploiting the difference between day and night time temperatures.
Ventilation is wind and thermal displacement-driven.
The interrelationship between these phenomena and the fabric of buildings is complex and
time dependent. However computer programmes exist to do this, in a simplified way. These
are called zonal models.
The practice of architecture, and the study of architecture in an academic context largely
involves the creation and testing of simulations of the built environment. Physical models,
hand drawings and, increasingly, computer models are created and are tested both
qualitatively and quantitatively and the simulations are then abandoned or altered in what is
an iterative design process.
As it stands there is a glaring omission in this it is impossible for students to convincingly
test the environmental effects of their ideas as they go along. The result is that architectural
students, and young architects, have no instructive feel for low energy buildings.
Existing Environmental simulators such as TAS are often too difficult to use to be integrated
fluently into the design process. Information has to be translated into data excepted by such
simulators. Another problem is posed by the format of the outputs: The graphs and figures
cannot be understood immediately.
If the aim is to create a feeling for environmental issues, input and output have to be more
intuitively, more in tune with the language of architectural design.

Aims
The long-term aim is to provide students with an easily accessible building thermal modelling
simulation tool that integrates environmental evaluations into the design process.
Such an integral simulation tool or function addressing the principles of environmental
behaviour should facilitate
a) Raising environmental issues and to make the environmental aims and standards explicit.
(explicit knowledge)
b) The education of an environmental instinct. Too many interrelated factors bear an impact
on the environmental performance. The manipulation of a factor can result in counter
intuitive outcomes. The education of an instinct of the relation between form, shape,
spatial organisation and environmental performance is the best way to deal with this
complexity (implicit knowledge).
c) Helping environmental issues to become a motor for design rather than a hindrance.
In order to achieve these aims the following issues need to be addressed:
Overcoming the separation between synthesis and analysis: To use an Environmental
Simulator at the earliest stages in the design of a building, the software must overcome the
separation between design and analysis that existing simulators have created. This places
the focus on the interface, the means by which the user describes and interacts with the
model.
The AES should use a language familiar to the design student for entering the environmental
data and so becomes part of the design process itself.
Feedback between geometry, orientation, material and environmental performance: The key
to this is feedback, producing real and useful design feedback at every stage of the modelling
process from data entry right through to final analysis.

2.

Environmental analysis of designs

Design analysis by using simulation tools involves the creation of behavioural models of
buildings in a given stage of its development, e.g. reflecting its 'as-designed' or as-built
specification. The actual simulation involves executing this model on a computer, analysis of
its observable states, and mapping these observations to suitable visualisations and
quantification of performance indicators (British Standard for example), e.g. by suitable post
processing of the output of the simulation.
Models are developed by reducing real world physical entities and phenomena to an idealised
form on some desirable level of abstraction. From this abstraction, a mathematical model is
constructed by applying physical energy conservation rules.
For an overview refer to Clarke [1985].
In the simulation industry there are two trends in environmental building simulation (EBS) for
architectural designers:

i) Integrated EBS
A slimmed-down set of the full set of possible simulation tools is adapted to the needs of
non-specialists, such as architects or architectural students with the purpose of fluid
integration into the design process.
Design integrated simulation tools (for the use of the architectural designer) require the
reduction and encapsulation of domain knowledge and in return sacrifices the accuracy of the
results.
Although this approach has a lot of problems it is ideal for educational use. Working with
such a simulator should help demonstrate the link or causality between design and
environmental performance. For the education of an architect the general relationship
between material, geometry, spatial organisation and environmental principles is more
important than the exact figures.

ii) Distributed or outsourced EBS.


Alternatively the building model can be sent out to a simulation expert who takes the
architectural model and generally simplifies it into a model suitable for use by building
simulation programs. These experts then feedback their results to the architect and thus form
part of an iterative process, however the expense of this method tends to mean that this
method is used towards the end of the design process. Also it is less helpful for the architect
in teaching the relationships between decisions made and the environmental consequences
of those decisions.
As it is possible to send the building model electronically, simulation experts can be based
anywhere and they can return results electronically (sometimes called e-simulation).

iii) Shared EBS


An emerging trend is towards shared building simulation models -also referred to as aspect
model [Gottfried 2002] that allows experts to perform accurate calculations on the
environmental performance of a building as it is being designed. The process of evaluating
the building however remains opaque to the designer.

3.

What environmental aspects can be modelled?

Various building simulation packages can model different aspects of a building, in general all
commercial packages will be expected to model most of the following parameters; air
temperature, radiant temperature, airflows in and out of the building, energy consumption in
terms of heating and cooling loads required to maintain a desired temperature, over and
under heating hours, and solar gains.
Some programs will model humidity accurately also, though this requires implementation of
the concept of buffering, and needs detailed material data to predict how humidity changes
over time. The way airflows are modelled determines if the simulation program can effectively
model stack ventilation.
In most of this document the term, building simulation model is considered to represent a
zone based model, where one room, or one open plan area is treated as a zone and
calculations are made and results presented on mean values for the zone.
Another method of simulation is the CFD or computational fluid dynamics package, which is
far more computer intensive and treats air as a fluid this method cuts the volume into very
small pieces and iteratively solves many thousands of equations to produce results. The
results are as detailed as the mesh used for the calculations, examples of the outputs of 3D
and 2D CFD programs are shown on the right, these show temperature and air flows. The
examples were produced using the 2D Ambiens CFD model (lower picture) and the 3D CFD
model (upper picture from EDSL [www.edsl.net].
The next section presents a case study of the zonal building simulation model TAS also
produced by EDSL.

Features of an environmental simulator: TAS Building Designer


TAS Building Designer performs dynamic thermal simulation of buildings. Hourly snapshots
are calculated and can be used to show effects of design decisions, on air flows,
temperatures and humidities.

The building is modelled within the program using a fairly limited modelling program called
3D-TAS. Plans in the industry standard file formats DXF or DWG can be imported into the
TAS modeller and used as a template to draw the building on top of.
At this stage the skill of the simulation expert is needed in assessing the level of abstraction
required. Some features on the plan will not be needed in the simulation model, such as
internal partitions, complicated exterior envelope shapes can be simplified at this stage as the
effect on the overall results will be minimal. Other simplifications make future scenario testing
easier, for example, if all of the glazing is made the same type and size it becomes much
simpler to test the increase or decrease of percentage glazing on the final results.
Default materials can be chosen at this stage but something must be specified so again
designers must decide materials and wall thicknesses for example at an early stage. This is
perhaps not so much of a problem as designers must eventually comply with building
regulations, which specify minimum thermal performance criteria for building elements.
Desired temperatures can be set which combined with the automatic sizing of heating and
cooling plant will determine energy consumption of the building.
Ventilation is one of the critical determinants of energy consumption, in these software
packages it is possible to model a perfect building with no ventilation heat loss however care
must be taken to provide sufficient fresh air for the simulated occupants. Minimum air change
rates can be specified with extra air coming from openings. The way the openings are
modelled is important, for example, schedules for window openings could allow for night
cooling at night and be shut during the day thus reducing overall cooling loads.

The choice of natural ventilation or air conditioning can be simulated with these packages
and can inform on for how many hours a given temperature would be exceeded during the
year.
The next sections present some typical results.

Heating & Cooling Loads with annual Energy Demand


Typical outputs from a simulation of a cold day are given on the right, this kind of output
shows temperatures for each zone over 24 hours and in the lower half of the picture the
heating load required to achieve the desired temperatures. In this example zone 3 requires a
peak load of 30kW and 277kW over the course of a day.

The lower excel graph shows the frequency distribution of various air temperatures over a
year just for working hours only. The results are from the simulation of a naturally ventilated
building, for this zone, in this case the temperature exceeds 25 degrees C in working hours,
for 65 hours in a year.
The results arrived at using a zone based modelling program are very quick and can give a
an overall picture of how a building will perform. Often however the designer will want more
detailed models showing where in a zone people will be thermally comfortable.
If this is required CFD models will be needed. These can provide detailed maps such as this
comfort map. This map presents a measure called thermal comfort, produced using Fangers
comfort equation [Fanger 1972] that uses six major variables to determine how warm a
person feels: Activity, clothing, and the four environmental variables: air speed, air
temperature, mean radiant temperature, and humidity.

Evaluating Ventilation Regimes


Part L: Carbon Performance Rating

Daylight in a virtual environment with Lightscape


TAS exports a Lightscape preparation file that has all surfaces fitted with a triangulated mesh
ready for the radiosity calculations.
You can edit the list of construction details within Lightscape to enhance the appearance of
the buildings interior finishes. You can specify sky conditions and locate the building
anywhere in the world for any date and time. When the lighting simulation is complete, a
photo-realistic model of the whole building is created not just a single view. The model can be
viewed from any position and used to generate fly-through animations.
Day lighting analysis can be performed on the rendered model to determine the daylight
levels on any of the internal surfaces. Luminance lux levels can be displayed numerically with
contour lines or via colour mapped images representing lux level banding.

4.

What are the problems of existing packages

An analysis tool such as TAS addresses the need that the building industry has for software
that can predict the effect of various design decisions. An environmental simulator as an
educational aid has to be understood in the context of the current architectural education
where the emphasis in the design process is put on the conceptual phase.
This is the stage when a vast array of competing requirements are shaping the initial building
form, when geometry, materials and orientation are still being formulated as these are the
three of the most important determinants of building performance.
The four main problems of existing environmental simulators are:
Design Restriction through use of a catalogue of elements: Simulation software tend to
operate with catalogue of existing elements such as particular window or glassing systems,
walls, floors, corridors, rooms, etc. whereas design students are regularly encouraged to
challenge predefined architectural notions such as the distinction between walls and floors.
Analysis on the finished building rather than conceptual designs: Different stages in the
design process require different types of assessment to inform the project evolution
adequately: In industry early conceptual design stage assessments are mostly based on
expertise and experimental knowledge of consultants. The current generation of simulation
tools play no significant role at this stage.
Distinction between analysis and synthesis: To perform an environmental simulation requires
the student to stop working in design mode and convert or generate information expected by
the simulation software. This process is time consuming and disrupts the iterative process of
decision-making, and forces the designer to make prematurely arbitrary design decisions in
order to produce a model acceptable to the environmental simulator.
Simulation output is not easily comprehended by non specialist: The output of the existing
simulation tools, mostly graphs or figures, belong to a language foreign to architectural
students. There is generally no link between the output information and the simulation model.

5.
Specification for the proposed AES (Architects Environmental
Simulator)
A computer aided design sketch tool that provides immediate feedback on the environmental
impact of the design decisions taken. The tool must provide feedback on changes made to
various environmental variables. At different stages of the design different variables are
affected, some of these variables and their effects are listed below.
The main environmental design variables are:
Volume Surface fabric
Orientation Geometry Thermal mass Material -

amount of air to heat or to cool


scale of heat loss and heat gain through the material of the building
affects solar gain and heat loss or gain
affects natural lighting, natural ventilation, (deep plan or narrow plan)
differing thermal responsiveness, affects energy use
fabric and finishes, insulation

Openings Ventilation rate -

in the building envelope affect ventilation rate


improved design leads to improved heat loss performance

Occupancy -

internal heat gain cause by people, activity, and equipment

The way the results of the calculations are fed back to the user is crucial and perhaps the
most important part of the proposed tool. It would be expected that there would need to be a
long iterative process to refine this interface. An example of how this might work is presented
in Section 7.

6.

Implementation

For the implementation of such a proposal the following options are at hand:

Option a: Integrated in CAD packages using VBA


Creating a tool or function in CAD packages used by architecture students such as AutoCAD
or Microstation. This can be achieved through the use of macro languages for example
AutoLisp for AutoCad or Visual Basic, which can be used in either package.

Option b: Integrated external solution using Pangaea


Pangaea is an intelligent CAD package developed by researchers at the Bartlett School of
Architecture. It was aimed to bring forward the use of computing to the earliest stages of
design when the most critical strategic decisions are taken. By using three dimensional object
based representations of the design, linked to a range of 'intelligent' techniques such as the
calculation of environmental behaviour, the project provides simultaneous visualisations of the
functional outcome of a proposed design from a range of points of view at once. DDE allow
the program to exchange data with the commonly used CAD packages.

Option c: web based solutions


Web based implementation using Java applets. Input is provided by standard CAD packages
using MicroStations engineering link facilities.

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7.

Case study:

Conceptual design is an iterative process of generating ideas that then need to be evaluated
and tested, for rejection or further refinement. Traditional methods of testing an idea involve
quick perspective sketches, simple geometric analysis on a drawing board.
A major part of this testing process is trial and error - simply playing around or experimenting
with an idea until it is shown to work or not. The purpose of this is to gain some
understanding, both spatially and operationally, of the full requirements of the final form.
The following case study takes a second year student design project and demonstrates where
in the design process and what types of environmental aspects can be explored and how.
The stages of the design process of could be as follows:
1. Stage: Preliminary strategic and conceptual experimentation stage
2. Stage: Form finding.
3. Stage: Siting of initial

Example 1: Modelling heat gain


Heat gain: generated by occupants and occupation/ activity patterns

Input
Placing heat sources that represent radiant heat conduction and convection and negative
heat sources. Shape of building d2 and the location for activity (represented through positive
and negative heat sources)
Solar gain: orientation, openings, building fabric, climate shading devices-

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Output: Colour map, Target level


Manipulating: Manipulating the envelope.

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8.

Conclusions and future work

This work has been a useful exercise in exploring possibilities for software that could work the
way architects work and provide feedback in a real time intuitive way.
Perhaps the main conclusions are that building simulation software is moving so fast that it
would be difficult for UCL to join in as part of the development. Even in the time taken from
the start of this project to the writing of this conclusion several packages have appeared or
been developed that are beginning to approach the ideas hoped for at the start.
Two in particular are worth mentioning here, IES are continuing to integrate their various
products into a virtual environment www.iesve.com, this is beginning to get more and more
seamless the feedback still needs work but progress is in a direction that we can recognise as
being useful.
The other product worth mentioning is something called Sketchup, www.sketchup.com, which
has a very simple to use 3D interface and does provide 3D real time shadow calculations both
outside and inside allowing the designer to have a very clear feedback of solar effects on their
design for daylighting in the first case but it is easy to see how this could be extended to
Energy.
Future developments for the Bartlett in this area will probably involve Andy Tindale of
EnergyCoding. He is a freelance software engineer producing an intuitive interface to one of
the software packages mentioned in the Appendix, Energy Plus
hhtp://www.energycoding.com/index.htm. He has been in close contact with members of the
Environment research team for a number of years and future collaborations will include
custom additions to Energy Plus, perhaps allowing and following some of the suggestions
made in this report.

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9.

Appendix

Literature List
Akin, O. 1978, 'How do architects design?', Artificial Intelligence and Pattern Recognition in
Computer Aided Design, Latombe, J.C. (ed), North Holland.
Ashdown, I. 1994, Radiosity: A Programmer's Perspective, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New
York.
Augenbroe, G, Trends in building simulation, Building and Environment, Volume 37, Issues 89 , August-September 2002, Pages 891-902
Bellchambers, H.E., Lambert, G.K. and Ruff, H.R. 1961, 'Modern Aids to Lighting Design Computer Techniques', Trans Illum Eng Soc, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp 107-122.
Brittain, J. 1997, 'The Cost of Oversized Plant', BSRIA Guidance Note No. 12/97.
Bunn, R. 1995, 'Tower of Babel of the Promised Land', Building Services Journal, 1/95.
CIBSE, 1986, CIBSE Guide, Volume A - Design Data, The Chartered Institute of Building
Services Engineers, Staples Printers, St Albans, England.
Carruthers, D.D., Roy, G.G. and Uloth, C.J. 1990, An Evaluation of Formulae for Solar
Declination and the Equation of Time, The University of Western Australia School of
Architecture, Research Report No. 17.
Clarke JA,1985, Energy Simulation in building design. Bristol and Boston: Adam Hilger.
Cowan H.J. 1966, An Historical Outline of Architectural Science, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Crawley, D.B. et al. 1996, 'Workshops on Next Generation Building Energy Simulation
Tools', ibpsaNEWS, Vol8 No. 1, pp.2-6
Crawley, D.B. et al., 'Workshops on Next Generation Building Energy Simulation Tools. Part
2: Contrasting Developers and Users', ibpsaNEWS, 1997 Vol9 No. 1, pp.1-5
Fanger, PO, 1972, Thermal Comfort, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.
Howard, H. 1960, 'Pipe Sizing with an Electronic Computer', JIHVE, Vol 28, No. 1, pp23.
IES, 1997, SunCast: Solar Mapping and Insolation Studies, Computer Software Manual,
Integrated Environmental Solutions Limited (IES), Glasgow.
Lomas, K., Eppel, H., Martin, C. And Bloomfield, D. 1994, 'Empirical validation of thermal
building simulation programs using room test data: Volume 1', Final report of IEA Annex 21:
Calculation of Energy and Environmental Performance of Buildings.
Longmore, J. 1968, BRS Daylight Protractors, Department of Environment Building
Research Station, Her Majesty's Stationary Office (HMSO), London.
Lynes, J.A. 1968, Principles of Natural Lighting, Elsevier Publishing Company Ltd, Great
Yarmouth, England.
Manning P. 1987, 'Environmental Evaluation', Building and Environment, Vol22 No. 3,
pp.201-208
Palmer, G. 1997, 'Cool Running', Building Services Journal, October '97.

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Papamichael, K. 1997, 'Designers and Information Overload: A New Approach', Advanced


Buildings Newsletter, Vol 1, No. 18, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Parsloe, C.J. 1995, 'Over-engineering in Building Services: An International Comparison of
Design and Installation Methods', BSRIA Technical Report No. TR21/95, BSRIA.
Phillips, R.O. 1983, Sunshine and Shade in Australasia, Australian Government Publishing
Service, Canberra.
Race, G.L. 1997, 'Design Margins in Building Services', Building Services Journal, August
'97.
Owen, J. and Roy, G., 1989, SR: Shadow and Reflection Analysis, Computer Software
Manual, School of Architecture, The University of Western Australia, Perth.
Ruyssevelt, P. and Batholemew, D. 1997, 'Stimulating Simulation, Computer Tools in
Building Services', Building Services Journal, October '97.
Schroeder, M.R. 1965, 'A New Method of Measuring Reverberation Time.' J. Acoust. Soc.
Am. Vol. 37, pp 409-412.
Spencer, J.W. 1965, Calculation of Solar Position for Building Purposes, CSIRO Division of
Building Research Technical Paper No. 14.
Szokolay, S.V. 1980, Environmental Science Handbook, The Construction Press Ltd,
Lancaster, England.
Szokolay, S.V. 1987, Thermal Design of Buildings, RAIA Education Division, Canberra.
Szokolay, S.V. 1987, Archipak Version 1.1, Computer Software Manual, University of
Queensland Dept. of Architecture.
Szokolay, S.V. 1996, Solar Geometry, PLEA Note No. 1, University of Queensland Dept. of
Architecture.
Vorlander, M. 1989, 'Simulation of the Transient and Steady-State Sound Propagation in
Rooms Using a New Combined Ray-Tracing / Image-Source Algorithm.' J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
Vol. 86, pp 172-178.
Ward, G. 1994, Supplementary Notes - Radiance Synthetic Lighting Simulation Application,
Lawrence Berlkey Laboratories.

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List of existing software packages


Major models are TAS, Apache (IES), Ecotect, Energy Plus / DOE 3 / DOE 2, and ESP-r
Reviews and links thanks to these pages
http://www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/tools_directory/database/page.cfm?Cat=EnergySim&Statu
s=Yes&Menu=1&Sel=1&Desc=Energy+Simulation
http://arch.hku.hk/research/BEER/links.htm#Energy%20Programs
ASEAM - http://www.fishbaugher.com only 11 sites link to this one outdated interface for
DOE-3 superseded by visual interface
DOE-3 - http://www.eley.com/gdt/visualdoe/index.htm
Pay version of DOE2 updated with visual interface powerful but has been thought difficult to
use by some of our TAS users. Does have a moisture absorption and desorption facility and
models humidity levels better than TAS or APACHE/IES
TAS www.edsl.net
Widely used professionally, reliable, fairly easy to use, big new update coming Christmas
2002 that will address outdated X windows interface. Good tutorial. Does bulk air flow and
temperature better than APACHE and reflected diffuse radiation. Comes with 2d CFD soon to
be 3D.
APACHE/IES www.ies4d.com
Very widely used professionally and much more sophisticated looking than TAS, complicated
and thus takes a long time to become skilled using it, not very intuitive interface.
Energy Plus - http://www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/energy_tools/energyplus/ combination of
DOE-2 and BLAST, chief point in favour is its free, the engine behind it is solid and reliable
and does humidity better than TAS and APACHE
ESP-r University of Strathclyde, powerful simulation code, complex to use but source code
available also and free under license.
Bsim2000 / Bsim 2002 - http://www.dbur.dk/english/publishing/software/bsim/
Not many references to this but an ok looking drawing interface, overall this looks like
APACHE
BDA Building Design Advisor - http://gaia.lbl.gov/BDA/
Acts as a front end for RADIANCE and DOE-2, seems complex and looks like a complicated
database.
EECode4 http://buildingsgroup.nrcan.gc.ca/ee4/english/index_e.shtml
EECode4 is another front end for DOE-2 with various parameters fixed such as ventilation,
0.25l/s /m2 of wall area and others changeable. Used to check compliance with the Canadian
building codes
Energy Scheming - http://www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/tools_directory/software/energysc.htm
This is an interesting one, simple aimed at architects, macintosh users, easy to convert from
CAD to MAC by tracing! Simplified climate just 4 representative days. Created by University
of Oregon, also with SoftDesk, Autodesk addin
http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~esbl/projsoft.html interesting ideas going along the same route
as us but apparently 5 years earlier. See this press release for a pretty good description of
our project!
Energy 10 http://www.nrel.gov/buildings/energy10/whatis.html
Used by architects already, widespread, simple to use, see website for simple description.
This is the kind of starting tool we could aim to improve on.
eQUEST quick energy simulation tool

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Another front end to DOE-2


http://www.doe2.com/equest/index.html
GeoPraxis GeoPraxis Energy Analysis Module (EAM) for 3D-CAD
http://www.geopraxis.com/content/eam_sdk.asp
SoftDesk 7.2: Softdesk Energy uses ASHRAE's Simplified Energy Analysis Method (SEAM)
to estimate heating and cooling loads for any building design location in the United States
(including Hawaii and Alaska). Results from Softdesk Energy are consistent with the manual
and spreadsheet SEAM methods used by most HVAC and mechanical engineers today.
http://www.energytech.pnl.gov:2080/dtp/sdflyer/flyer.html

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