AEC Tech News (#265)

3 Mar, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Computer-Aided EcoDesign

3D model–based technologies are helping assess — and reduce — a design's impact on the environment.

By Kenneth Wong

Until recently, building information modeling (BIM) software such as Autodesk Revit, Bentley Architecture, Graphisoft ArchiCAD, and Vectorworks Architect focused primarily on modeling and refining building geometry. To analyze the energy consumption of a building, users relied on third-party software such as Green Building Studio, Ecotect, Hevacomp, and IES <VE&gt. A series of acquisitions in the past few years changed that, however.

In January 2008, Bentley Systems acquired energy-analysis software maker Hevacomp Ltd. In June 2008, the company struck an agreement with Environmental Design Solutions Ltd. (EDSL), securing exclusive worldwide rights to distribute EDSL's Tas, a full-featured analysis software suite intended for complex building systems and large projects. In July 2008, Autodesk followed suit. It snatched up Green Building Studio and Ecotect, signaling its intent to integrate Green Building Studio's web-based analysis tools and Ecotect's energy analysis tools with Revit.

Nemetschek, which develops and markets the Vectorworks BIM software and also owns Graphisoft, has made a considerable effort to ensure its modeling platforms are interoperable with IES <VE> (IES stands for Integrated Environmental Solutions and VE stands for virtual environment) and Autodesk Ecotect Analysis (which, even under Autodesk's ownership, remains available for use with competitors' BIM software). In May 2009, at the American Institute of Architects Convention and Design Expo, Graphisoft unveiled its own analysis module, called EcoDesigner. Built into the ArchiCAD user interface and accessible through a single button, it quite literally is a single-click analysis program. Although not as comprehensive as Ecotect or IES <VE>, EcoDesigner provides ArchiCAD users with basic energy- and carbon-checking functions.

At the moment, IES remains an independent analysis software provider, operating under the guidance of its founder, Don McLean. His desire to make analysis software that is easier to learn and use led to the distribution of IES VE-Ware, a free analysis module compatible with Google SketchUp, also free, and Autodesk Revit. Using Google SketchUp and IES VE-Ware, users can conduct basic building energy analyses — carbon emissions, energy consumption, and regulatory compliance — at no cost. Read more »

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Freelance writer Kenneth Wong explores the innovative use of technology and its implications.

Circles and Lines Tutorial: Please Pass the Parametrics

If you have an appetite for easier drawing and editing, AutoCAD 2010 serves up new geometric constraints.

By Lynn Allen

Autodesk's newer, more powerful programs such as Revit and Inventor have had the advantage of parametrics since the beginning, but AutoCAD always lagged behind. Finally, with version 2010, AutoCAD users have the advantage of powerful parametric tools that make it easier than ever to edit designs. I promise, once you've had a taste of this exciting technology, you'll never want to go back!

The world of parametrics in AutoCAD 2010 has two components: geometric constraints and dynamic constraints. I'll begin by discussing geometric constraints, and save dynamic constraints for a future column.

For starters, geometric constraints sound a little intimidating. Let me assure you, that couldn't be further from the truth. Geometric constraints are very easy to work with, and you can ease into them one toe at a time or jump in with both feet — it's entirely up to you. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Connecting the Dots: Creating AutoCAD Civil 3D Surfaces with LIDAR Data
March 9, 2010
Seattle, Washington
This session will cover issues associated with LIDAR data, as well as tools available in Civil 3D to manage that data. Read more »

San Francisco Revit Users Group: Curtain Wall Forum
March 10, 2010
San Francisco, California
Curtain wall aficionados and detractors are invited to join this moderated discussion regarding this powerful tool. Read more »

Residential Design and Construction 2010
April 14–15, 2010
Boston, Massachusetts
Developed by the Boston Society of Architects/AIA, RDC offers workshops, special events, live demonstrations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities designed for professionals working on residential and other small-scale projects. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


Last Chance! Submit Your Favorite Freebie and You Could Win
Cadalyst editors want to hear about the free software tools that help you get your job done. E-mail the editors with the details of your favorite free (or almost free) tools. If we select your tool for publication in the cover story of our Spring 2010 edition of Cadalyst magazine, we'll send you a Cadalyst T-shirt! Deadline for submissions is Monday, March 8.

Free Cadalyst Benchmark: Evaluate Your Hardware Performance
Evaluate the performance of your workstations running AutoCAD (2000-2010) using the Cadalyst Benchmark Test c2010. Use our free download to compare your hardware with the latest systems on the market today, or compare performance before and after a system upgrade. Sponsored by Intel.

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Cheat Sheets
Even in the computer age, lists on paper still have value. In the workplace, they can provide users with a quick reference and reduce frequently asked questions. Read more »

Win Over Your Users
As a CAD manager, putting in the extra effort required to communicate clearly with your users, understand their needs, and become their advocate will pay off for them — and for you. Read more »

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