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. Unfortunately, I'm on a Mac and the plugin is only working on Windows so far, so I will either have to wait until I can install Windows on my machine or it is released for Mac. For more information and to download the plugin for free, go to: http://www.energyplus.gov/energy_design_plugin.cfm And for more on building information modeling, see the Environmental Building News article Building Information Modeling and Green Design.
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