AEC Tech News #181

25 Oct, 2006 By: Kenneth Wong

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Sustainable Solar Dynamics

Energy consultant uses SketchUp to analyze solar panel installations

John Humphrey, who cofounded the San Francisco-based consulting firm Sustainable Energy Partners, is devoted to clean energy pursuits in more ways than one. First and foremost, he's married to a scientist studying solar hydrogen production at Stanford University. He usually pedals his bike from his house near Golden Gate Park to the Mission District across town. From his office in a cafe-lined Bohemian neighborhood, he scrutinizes his clients' building plans and figures out cost-efficient methods to incorporate sustainable energy.

"I rarely receive 3D models from the architects I've worked with," observes Humphrey. "I'm often surprised at how much stuff gets done in 2D in the construction world, even today. ... What we usually do is take a floor plan and extrude up, or an elevation and extrude sideways, then fill in the gaps."

Suppose an architect wants to add photovoltaic panels on the roof of a project. Sustainable Energy Partners might be hired to design the panel layout that goes on top of the structure, then oversee the installation process. "Ideally we will get digital drawings," says Humphrey, "but if all we get is a printout, we'll take measurements, then recreate the basic roof dimensions pretty quickly."

So what can undermine a solar panel installation? "Crazy rooflines always kill me," says Humphrey. "What you really want is a big, flat, south-facing roof at an angle that will provide good solar exposure. There are some more specific, preferred angles for different types of solar technologies, but as long as the roof is south-facing and there's no shading issues, we're in the money." Read more>>

Build a Car Out of Food? Can Do!

By Tricia Vita

What do CAN You Spare a Pear, La Cantina and Tour de Cans have in common? They're super-size sculptures created out of canned goods by architecture and engineering firms for recent Canstruction competitions in Dallas and Washington, D.C. After a one-night build-out, awards ceremonies and public exhibitions, the sculptures were de-canstructed and 50 tons of canned food was donated to local food banks.

"Canstruction combines the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help feed hungry people," says Cheri Melillo, executive director of Canstruction. The Society for Design Administration developed Canstruction with the 1993 New York City Canstruction competition and now it encompasses 80 chartered events in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

From Arlington to Wichita, dozens of cities are hosting Canstruction events throughout the year. Upcoming competitions include Boston (Boston Public Library, October 23-November 10), Atlanta (Colony Square Mall, November 10-16) and New York ( New York Design Center, November 9-22). The complete list of participating Canstruction cities and dates is posted online. Read more>>

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming industry events is always available on our Web site.

The Power of Adobe Acrobat 8 Seminar
Various 2006 dates
Various locations
Attendees will learn how Adobe Acrobat 8 can be used to improve workflows, and can choose from 90-minute breakout sessions designed for AEC/manufacturing, creative/marketing, general business/IT, legal and education/e-learning professionals, as well as a developer briefing. Read more

Webinar: Autodesk Map 3D 2007 for Landscape Architects
November 15, 2006
This webinar will demonstrate how Autodesk Map 3D 2007 can help Landscape Architects initiate site design through simple mapping analysis, connecting to point data and creating more visually appealing 3D renderings of project design areas. Read more

Convergence 2007
February 20-22, 2007
Durham , North Carolina
Geomagic's global users' conference brings together Geomagic software users from around the world to share knowledge and mark the company's first decade in business. Convergence 2007 centers on two days of workshops where expert users, technology partners, and Geomagic innovators will present best-practice advice for using the company's software suite. Read more

what's new at

New Cadalyst Column Offers Training Tips
A new software training column is available now from Cadalyst magazine: Author Matt Murphy writes Lesson Plans, offering training basics and great how-to advice for anyone who strives to make the most of software tools. Check out the October installment, "Does Traditional Teaching Work?" -- a look into how you can move away from formal learning and toward more-effective informal methods. Cadalyst's Lesson Plans series is also available online.

Visualization Software Round-Up
If you're in the market for visualization software, you'll want to take a look at October's Cadalyst Labs Review, "Make It Real -- Visualization Software Brings Designs to Life." Reviewer Ron LaFon discusses how today's visualization software can mimic reality with amazing results, offering an overview of software from Abvent, ASGvis, auto-des-sys, Luxology, NewTek, Robert McNeel and Associates, and Okino Computer Graphics.

Cadalyst Daily Update
For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every issue includes a feature you won't find anywhere else -- hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, AutoCAD tips and much more! Here's a sample of what you missed recently:

Modeling Highways in the Sky: You can't see aviation corridors -- but you can design and analyze them using Autodesk Civil 3D.