This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 12, 2011

OpenStudio: Building Design Expertise at Your Fingertips

Like many weekend warriors, I enjoy tackling small home improvement projects, like replacing a door or installing an underground sprinkler system. But I want to get expert advice before I start, so I can avoid costly mistakes and achieve the best results.

Commercial building designers faced with energy efficiency concerns share the same feeling. It's complicated trying to make decisions about advanced HVAC systems in different climates or determining potential energy savings from winter daylighting. That's why DOE created OpenStudio, a software kit and suite of advanced energy modeling tools.

Engineers, architects, and others can explore the most efficient improvements available for commercial buildings with this free application suite. Through its user-friendly interface, design teams can use OpenStudio to understand the cost implications of their specific plans.

One of the key components of this system is its ability to tap into DOE's advanced whole-building energy modeling program, EnergyPlus. Designers can draw the building in detail using site photos and other inputs to get an accurate representation of the building. OpenStudio then converts the information into data that EnergyPlus uses to help designers understand the impact their design choices are having on cost, energy efficiency, and code compliance. The plug-in also speeds up the modeling process, which is otherwise complex and time consuming. See the Energy Blog post.