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As someone who has had multiple conversations with architects about sustainability and building performance over the last 7 – 8 months, I am often asked the question: “Can architects really make a difference to the low carbon transition within the built environment?” So, I decided to put my thoughts in a blog and let you be the judge of it…

Architects will often say that they have the intent, but they don’t have the budget or the expertise to deliver on performance based design. Others will say that there is not enough demand; the cost considerations overshadow sustainability initiatives; the clients are interested in maximising rooms rather than minimising energy and carbon in a development; or they are happy with the existing outsourcing relationship with their partners (including M&E partners and cost consultants). The list goes on and on.

However, there are strong commercial reasons to support why architects should be taking the initiative to set the sustainability agenda within the built environment space.

There are opportunities for them to:

  1. Exceed client expectations
  2. Manage resources better
  3. Reduce project risk
  4. Improve collaboration with partners
  5. Foster innovation

At IES, we foresee a future where architecture is synonymous with sustainable design, irrespective of the size of the practice or complexity of projects. Given our 20+ years of experience in developing cutting edge building performance tools, we are well positioned to support architects in this vision. We have been striving to make it easy for architects to push sustainability within their practice, especially during RIBA project stages 2 & 3, and, keeping in sync with digitisation trends in the industry, we have made our tools BIM Level 2 ready with a high degree of interoperability with platforms including Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and Archicad.

IES provides a comprehensive approach to sustainable design which includes multiple elements to cover daylighting, solar shading, visual comfort, thermal comfort, energy & carbon, costing and environmental impact. The VE software can also be used to help secure BREEAM credits across categories like materials, management, health & well-being and energy.

In fact, those looking to maximise their BREEAM potential might be interested to learn that IESVE can help them achieve 33% of all BREEAM credits. That’s almost half the credits required for a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating!

Furthermore, with the IES IMPACT suite of tools, architects can target up to a total of 12 capital costing, life cycle costing and life cycle impact credits, which have traditionally been thought to be cost prohibitive. Unlocking these credits can make the difference between achieving an ‘Excellent’ rating and a ‘Very Good’ rating, so there’s definite value to be gained. What’s more, reporting to the BRE couldn’t be easier as it can be done by sending the IES model directly to them.

The more advanced users out there can also take advantage of the latest ParametricHONE (optimisation) and Python Scripting capabilities within the VE to challenge their client’s approach or to aid participation in research projects or competitions.

Don’t take our word for all the WOW features and capabilities. Try it out! You already know how technology can make a difference to your workflows and give you a competitive edge.

Go to our website and download the 30-day trial today. With built-in navigators and Distance Learning courses available, you’ll be up and running in no time. And, if you get stuck, reach out to our friendly support team, dip into the FREE resources available from our Knowledge Baseuser manuals and YouTube channel, or connect with others in the IES Community via our user forum and LinkedIn group to see how they are using the tools within their own practice.

As they say – Dream Big, Start Small, Begin Now! We’d love to be part of your sustainability journey – why not contact me today to find out how?

IESVE for Architects – Creating Geometry

Posted: December 20, 2013 by , Category:Architects


In this post we’ll continue in our series of IESVE

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for Architects blogs. So far we’ve looked at ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Site Analysis’, which brings us on nicely to how you go about Creating Geometry within the package.

Firstly, it is important to understand that as well as geometry, simulation programs such as IESVE also require additional data to be assigned to the model. The data needed depends on the analysis function you are undertaking, such as data on location, occupancy, usage patterns, construction materials and HVAC systems.

However, we understand that at early stages you will not have access to all this information. To get round this IES has included pre-populated idealised data templates into the software which you can use at early stages. These enable you to analyse the important design considerations using like-for-like comparisons, rather than trying to make detailed predictions which is something for later design stages. You can set this data in a number of ways; including importing a model from SketchUp or Revit® or building from scratch in the VE.

Modelling in the VE
ModelIT is the VE module used to create geometry with or without AutoCAD data. ModelIT gives you efficient modelling –with fast track functions, easy visual checks and no rebuilding. Get the lowdown on using ModelIT to create geometry from scratch in the IESVE for Architects support material.

Importing from SketchUp
sketchup-model-to-veThe SketchUp plug-in enables the direct translation of geometry into the VE from either the Free or Pro versions. The plug-in offers SketchUp users a range of model building tools designed to make creating ‘best practice’ geometry for performance analysis effortless. It also allows you to quickly assign important data; such as location, building type, construction and HVAC type. Take the step by step guide to using the Sketchup plug-in here.

Importing from Revit®
The Revit plug-in

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enables the direct translation of geometry into the VE from both Revit Architecture and Revit MEP. The plug-in allows Revit users to translate all bounded rooms into a VE compatible format and quickly assign important data; such as location, building type, construction and HVAC type. Use the support material to follow the best practice checklist for translating Revit to the VE.

The SketchUp and Revit plug-ins are included in the trial installation and will appear automatically in the application. If you have not yet started your IESVE for Architects trial then head to our website to start today.

There are a number of import options and integrations on offer when you using the VE. You can read more about them here – www.iesve.com/software/software-interoperability.

IESVE for Architects – Site Analysis

Posted: October 25, 2013 by , Category:Architects


In the last IESVE for Architects blog post we looked at getting started with the free 30 day trial of the package. You should now have access to the software and are starting to find your way about.

This brings us on to our next post, site analysis…

Did you know within IESVE for Architects it is uniquely possible to get specific site understanding and pre-design sustainability direction without having to draw a single model line?

You can interrogate the climate and determine suitable bio-climatic architectural strategies just by setting the location and choosing a weather file, aiding the establishment of performance goals and energy efficient benchmarks such as for the building envelope, thermal comfort, visual comfort, daylight penetration and view.

Weather File Choice
The VE uses an hourly weather data file that you can select to drive its simulations. It is important you use data from a site close to and similar to yours so that the assumed impact of the sun, wind and rain etc. on your building is a close match.

Check out our Trial Support Guide for instructions on setting location and selecting weather files, and adding additional files from other sources.

Climate Consideration
Climate data can be assessed before any building has been designed. Using the VE-Gaia Navigator, Climate metrics can be analysed at a very early stage, enabling you to:
•    Interrogate local climate – current & future
•    Understand ASHRAE/Koeppen-Geiger climate classification
•    Review Diurnal swing
•    Undertake Mahoney comfort stress analysis
•    Summarise relevant metrics related to climate
•    Understand buildings and design responses to climate metrics
•    Report on temperature, moisture/humidity, wind, precipitation, solar energy

The Support Guide shows you how to select and analyse climate metrics, climate index and climate change.

Bio-Climatic Direction
Bioclimatic Analysis is using an understanding of climate to inform building design strategy, and also a reasoned understanding of traditional or vernacular architecture.

Use the IESVE architects package to create bioclimatic reports that detail design priorities; micro-climate; urban street pattern; urban pattern; building macro form; building micro form. There are a number of suggestions given in relation to the building form; construction; window/openings;  shading/protection; ventilation; passive technology; active technology and HVAC details.

So now we’ve covered getting started with the package and site analysis. Stay tuned for our next post, when we’ll look at creating geometry.

IESVE for Architects – Getting Started

Posted: October 16, 2013 by , Category:Architects


To coincide with the official launch of the IESVE for Architects package, we’ll be posting a series of micro blogs over the next couple of weeks to help users get set up to test drive the package with our free 30 day trial and see the impact it can have on sustainable design.

First let’s take a look at how to go about getting the software up and running on your machine.  In order to get started you need to download and install the software and then request and activate your licence keys. Keys activation is a manual process so please leave time for our team to deal with your request.

– Download both the VE ‘Application’ and ‘Shared Content’ installers from www.iesve.com
– Install ‘Shared Content’ first
– Follow the Set-Up Wizard for each installation

Setting Up Keys
– Launch the IESVE software
•Request Licence Keys when prompted
•Keys will be issued for the software via email
– After licences have been issued the “Keys” directory should not be moved
– Activate software
– You will now be able to access the IESVE for Architects applications

You have full access to our online support material and support team during your trial period so if you have any queries visit www.iesve.com/support or email support@iesve.com. Full support is also included when the package is purchased.

Now you’re ready to get started with the software. Finding your way around is made easier with a selection of Navigators which take you through key workflows in the software. You will also have access to a number of the VE Applications; ModelIT, SunCast and RadianceIES so that you can undertake more detailed solar and daylight studies.

Take a look at our new Trial Support Guide for a more detailed look at the VE user interface.

So now it’s time to download the free trial and put some time aside to get familiar with the IESVE for Architects package and the capabilities of the software. Our next blog posts will look at site analysis, creating geometry and building analysis.

It’s also worth while checking out our new video which provides an overview of this specially designed architectural analysis package…

Last month, to mark our return to the AIA Convention, we launched a competition to explore the architect’s role in building energy analysis. We put the following question to architects, engineers and sustainability consultants around the world — What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

We received many interesting and thought provoking answers that had our judges deadlocked in deciding who would come away with the fantastic prize of a one year license for VE-Gaia, the VE-Navigator for LEED, as well as associated IESVE modules and training.

Our expert panel were pushed to pick a winning entry and we are delighted to announce that the winner is Susan Welker of Harris Welker Architects. Susan’s entry impressed us because it really got to the heart of what the architect must strive for when aspiring to create the most energy efficient building possible. Here is Susan’s winning entry…

As Architects of not just the built environment, but the planet, our role in energy analysis is threefold. We are the thought leaders in the early stages of design and set the form for the building’s needs for light, water, energy and natural resources. Architects analyze their initial energy analysis with engineering consultants to revise and maximize the buildings minimum energy usage. Finally and most importantly, Architects follow through with observations and field testing to achieve the minimum energy usage during the construction phase.

We also had other entries that are too good not to give an honourable mention to…

Ryan Arnold of MSI Engineers made an interesting point about the collaborative nature of energy analysis – Energy analysis has developed into a truly collaborative process, a process that’s success relies on it not being the claim of one profession, but as a shared responsibility to the whole project team. Thus, the role of an architect in energy analysis is the same as all involved parties- to constantly facilitate the collaboration and creativity needed to solve the complex energy issues we all face, together.

Kirsten Wood of Technical Commissioning Services excellently articulated what energy analysis should mean to the architect and humanity – Architects combine functionality with aesthetics to produce structures that are pleasing to the human senses and useful. Today, that usefulness is also defined by how structures consume energy. A structure that is wasteful will not serve humanity well. Therefore, the role of architects in energy analysis is to reflect deeply on the aspects of energy efficiency and incorporate those into the design.

We’d like to thank all of you who took the time to participate in our contest. Your answers provided a real insight in how the architect’s role in energy analysis is changing, and how our software is helping facilitate this change for the better.

And once again, a big congrats to our winner Susan!

Live from AIA 2012

Posted: May 18, 2012 by , Category:Architects, events

Notes from the show floor…

I’m back from dinner and a wonderful evening in Washington, DC, and I’m sitting down to take a look at my notes from the day.

What do I think of AIA so far? I’m happy to report that the show is fantastic! There was some great traffic in the 2100 row, and we had some great conversations at the booth today. The buzz in the air was refreshing. I think the architecture industry is going to see some big things in 2012.

The theme of the show — Design Connects — is certainly something we’ve been talking about for years at IES. Early stage analysis, including solar shading and the impact of daylight levels, for example, are an important part of the whole-building design process. The understanding of how climate and building design connect as part of the key to low-energy, sustainable design is an integral part of our software, and we are excited to share this with attendees this week.

I haven’t had much time to step away from the booth and walk the floor, but I hope to check out some of the other booths today. Maybe I’ll see you?

And we’re trying to Tweet throughout the day (when the Wi-Fi is cooperating), so follow us here – @IESVE.

There is also time to enter our AIA 2012 competition, to win a one year license for our architectural analysis tool, VE-Gaia, and the VE-Navigator for LEED, and associated IESVE modules. All you have to do is answer the following question in 100 words or less:

What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

Entries can be made here. Good luck!

It’s already May! Can you believe it? May! And that means just one thing for me — AIA 2012 is right around the corner.

The IES Team will be manning booth 2121 this year — and I’m very excited for what we have in store. We’ll be showcasing some of the great new updates to our software. Architects, engineers and designers will get an in-depth look at the new ways to visualize solar shading, solar arc and solar analysis with VE-Gaia and VE-Pro.

As we prepare for this year’s show, I’ve been thinking about IES’ role in architecture and how it has adapted and changed based on the trends of the industry. Energy modeling has changed the way many architects think about sustainable design. The ability to test architectural hypotheses for energy efficiency before ever laying the first brick brings a lot to the table, and more and more architects are seeing the advantages of simulation as they tackle new projects. But, just as IES adapts to a changing industry, architects do as well.

So just what is the architect’s role in energy analysis in 2012? Well, that’s what we’d like to know from you! We’re running a competition at AIA this year, and the winner will receive a free one-year license for VE-Gaia, one of the most comprehensive architectural analysis tools available. In addition, the winner will get free access to the VE-Navigator for LEED, as well as associated training.

Want to win? Just answer the question.

What do you view as the Architect’s role in Energy Analysis?

You can enter your response

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online at http://www.iesve.com/AIA2012Comp. To see other entries and for updates on the competition, follow the official hashtag — #IESCompAIA —on Twitter.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the show! Let the countdown begin…

AIA Makes Push for Design Transparency

Posted: December 15, 2011 by , Category:Architects

In the architecture and design realm, keeping it simple often yields the best results. Keeping it sustainable doesn’t hurt either.

A push by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as highlighted in a recent article in The Washington Post, supports this idea. All across the United States, AIA chapters are “taking a stand for visibility, transparency and sustainability.” Brick and mortar no longer separates the AIA buildings from the public, something that becomes clear if you’ve seen the new building of the AIA’s chapter in D.C.

Thomas Corrado, project architect with the Washington firm that created the design, described the concept as “clear, simple and concise.” He went on to say that “the idea was about how to make the space a connection between architecture and the person on the street.”

What I find most interesting about this new open-door style is its appeal to the public. As the United States pushes for a greener, more efficient future, anything that can draw in the public to gain some traction is positive for the sustainability industry as a whole. When pedestrians peer through the floor-to-ceiling glass of the D.C. building, for instance, they see an open gallery that currently showcases the winners of a recent design competition. Next month, the gallery will feature an exhibit on art nouveau architecture from Brussels.

Another example of the AIA’s new design efforts is the soon to be completed Center for Architecture and Design in North Carolina.

The nation’s only AIA building to be built from the ground up, it was designed by Raleigh-based architect Frank Harmon after a statewide competition. Inside, the lighting adjusts to demand, monitored by a donated state-of the-art computer server that responds to the amount of daylight admitted. Early modeling projects energy savings as high as 64 percent.

As we head into 2012, we look forward to seeing the AIA’s new push for design transparency continue to generate public appeal and translate to more sustainable designs nationwide.

New York City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC). As the City’s primary project manager for construction projects, they build many of the civic facilities New Yorkers use every day. And recently, the DDC has been designing and refurbishing libraries, firehouses and museums, bringing new life to old buildings and reviving the city with a renewed look at architecture.

One recent project is the Queens Central Library, referenced in the NY Times article, “New York’s Public Architecture Gets a Face-Lift.”

What I find interesting is the reference the editor makes to Starbucks and Barnes & Noble. These seem like the most un-architecturally appealing buildings, and certainly not a place for intellectual stimulation.

Libraries have also learned from retailers like Starbucks and Barnes & Noble about what people expect when they leave their homes to go someplace public to sit and read. Libraries have become modern town squares and gathering places; they offer millions of New Yorkers employment counseling, English-language classes and, crucially, Internet access.

But the inspiration certainly worked for the library in Jamaica, Queens. Its architectural design is fresh, unique and inspiring, but still fits in with the surrounding low-rises in the area. Looking at this project an architectural eye, I think this revival of sorts demonstrates what can happen when architects, even without a whopping budget, can do if they have an innovative agenda and a supportive client. Applying the basics and designing with the future in mind is something we can’t take for granted — NYC’s DDC is a great example of what a little updating can do to bring buildings into the 21st

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This sums it up quite nicely.
And it’s the small things, after all – some greenery, good lighting, well-maintained sidewalks and well-made buildings – that shape our perceptions of where we live, whether or not we’re always conscious of them.

Salvador Dalí­, best known for his surrealist work, was a versatile artist. Some of his more popular works are sculptures and other objects, and he is also noted for his contributions to theatre, fashion, and photography.

And one of the most comprehensive collections of Dalí­ work is now housed in the newly redesigned museum bearing his name in St. Petersburg, FL.

So what does Dalí have to do with architecture? Well, this museum was designed with not just the interior in mind. Built to withstand extreme weather conditions (it is Florida, after all) as well as decrease its ecological footprint, The Dalí­ Museum serves not only as a home for some of the artist’s greatest works, but his art inspired much of the design of the structure itself.

The rough, unfinished concrete walls of the main structure deliver a stark contrast to the sleek elegance of the glass sections, which use geodesic triangulation to imitate the flow of liquids in nature. The reinforced concrete walls and the glass sections can withstand hurricanes (up to a category 5). Hurricane-resistant skylights allow natural light to enter the third-floor gallery space, and the glass atrium brings natural light into the lobby. Automated artificial lighting shuts off when the rooms are unoccupied, reducing unnecessary electricity use, while the exterior lighting is provided by high-efficiency LEDs.

Sustainability played a key part in the redesign of this museum. It serves as a model that design can be functional AND beautiful, while still incorporating energy efficient features. This museum could serve as a model for other buildings that are looking to make upgrades but are afraid of losing their uniqueness.

AOL Travel News named the museum as “One of the top buildings you have to see before you die.” Guess I better plan a trip to Florida!

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