WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released OpenStudio, a free energy design plug-in developed to work within the Google SketchUp 3D drawing environment. The plug-in is designed to simplify use of DOE’s EnergyPlus simulation software, which identifies potential energy savings by modeling heating, cooling, ventilating, water, lighting, and other building energy flows.

According to DOE, OpenStudio makes it easy to create and edit the building geometry in EnergyPlus input files using the Google SketchUp tools. With the native SketchUp 3D capabilities, users can view the geometry from any vantage point, apply different rendering styles and architectural finish details, and perform accurate shadowing studies. OpenStudio also allows users to launch EnergyPlus simulations and view the results without leaving SketchUp.

The EnergyPlus simulation software is available as a free download and DOE says it has been downloaded by users in all 50 states, as well as 150 countries. EnergyPlus Version 3.0 is available for the Windows, Linux, and Macintosh operating systems, and includes several new features such as new datasets, updated zone and ventilation controls and models, enhanced cost calculations and economic reporting, and extended documentation and guides.

OpenStudio was created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for DOE and is compatible with both the free and the Pro versions of Google SketchUp 6 or Google SketchUp 7.

OpenStudio will integrate directly with the EnergyPlus Example File Generator to help generate a code compliant building. The Example File Generator will accept the IDF file that is generated from OpenStudio and will apply constructions and HVAC systems along with other energy-efficient options such as overhangs, daylighting, and photovoltaics. The resultant building will be returned via e-mail that can then be opened in OpenStudio.

More information on EnergyPlus and the OpenStudio plug-in, including how to obtain a free download of each, is available at www.energyplus.gov.

Publication date: 01/26/2009