Posted live from Greenbuild. Yesterday, the president of Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), Don McLean, stopped by our booth at Greenbuild to run through the features of his company's Virtual Environment energy and carbon footprint simulation tool for SketchUp and Revit. The new version of the software already works with the new features in SketchUp 7. While this was going on, an attendee whose office uses SketchUp for preliminary design and Revit for the hard stuff (an increasingly common configuration) happened by, and was surprised to find out the depth of information this software pulls out of SketchUp models. It's pretty amazing. There's the free version, which has limited capabilities, and purchasable modules for energy, lighting & daylighting, solar, value & cost, egress, mechanical, and more — or the whole schmear is available in a suite. Today Don and I had an unscheduled quick bite of lunch together up in the food court.
Last Friday a few of us gathered around a phone behind the closed doors of one of the conference rooms here at BuildingGreen and had a chat with John Bacus from Google's team of SketchUp developers, and Aaron Stein, one of their PR folks. The supersecret talk was about the next release of that program — SketchUp 7 — which within the last couple hours has gone public. They described it as a major upgrade, 18 months in the making, that improves the core usability and basic capability of the modeler. "Subtle but important" was a phrase that popped up... it may have been an understatement. Some of the improvements are only available in the Pro version, but here's a quick rundown of the ones that made me sit up: The seemingly most simple change from previous versions may be the most significant for most users. Now, when two lines cross in a plane, they both break into separate lines. Before this, they simply overlapped. If the significance isn't apparent, it might not mean that much to you — but folks doing things like facades and floor plans will rejoice. Another potentially big one for the architecture crowd is Dynamic Components.
Over the last few months I have been working with a group of people from Greensburg GreenTown and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to create case studies of new buildings in Greensburg, Kansas. We recently launched the website at greensburg.buildinggreen.com with an initial offering of 6 buildings. The Greensburg case study website is a little different than the others that we manage for a couple reasons: many of these are unfinished projects, and the case studies are constantly evolving (as opposed to updated semi-regularly). Additionally, I am really excited that we integrated Google Maps and Google Earth for a whole new way to navigate the projects. So far only two of the buildings show up on the maps because the addresses of some buildings have not been released. For those using Google Earth, I recommend downloading the KML layer of before and after images of the town. We hope that you find this website useful and informative.
A beta version of the Energy Design Plugin for Google SketchUp has been released by the Department of Energy. From the Energy Design Plugin website: Designed to integrate seamlessly with the SketchUp environment, the plugin allows you to use the standard SketchUp tools to create and edit EnergyPlus zones and surfaces. You can explore your EnergyPlus input files by using all of the native SketchUp 3D capabilities to view the geometry from any vantage point, apply different rendering styles, and perform accurate shadowing studies. The plugin allows you to mix EnergyPlus simulation content with decorative content such as background images, landscaping, people, and architectural finish details--all within the same SketchUp model. I saw an almost-working version of the plugin at Greenbuild in Chicago while meeting with a DOE colleague, but a spotty Internet connection and some remaining bugs (that I'm guessing they've mostly worked out) kept me from getting the first-hand tutorial.
Update: it has come to our attention that the U.S. Department of Energy is no longer supporting this Google Earth layer. We've created a Google Documents link where you can download the KMZ file for use in Google Earth.