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VE 2017 is now Live!

Posted: March 3, 2017 by , Category:software

PV Panels
VE 2017 is our biggest release to date! With 25 major new features, as well as lots of smaller enhancements, we are very excited to be launching this new release. Some of the features include the latest cutting edge technology from our R&D division, whilst many of them are customer requests fed back to us via our feedback@iesve.com email. We are always striving to make our software the best we can for our customers so please feel free to drop us an email with any requests.

VE 2017 has been designed to improve productivity and to help you optimise your building design.

Here’s an overview of some of our headline features:


Hone is an optimisations tool to help you find the optimal building design whilst saving time and cost. An outcome of the R&D project UMBRELLA, Hone is a standalone tool that references a VE model with the advantages being that the VE can still be used whilst any optimisation is being performed. It is completely customisable even down to the graphics rendered, making it another ideal tool for expert users.


  • Independent tool to optimise VE models without locking VE licences
  • WORKSHEETS is the main feature, allowing non-expert users to use the tool readily
  • Use Hone to converge on your final and optimal design quickly and accurately
  • Optimisation Worksheets can be created and shared to create optimisation approaches for quality and repeatability for all users


This new feature provides streamlined generation and improved user control over a significantly expanded set of reports for buildings, system, zone, and room loads, sizing, and ventilation.

HVAC Report

  • Generate new and existing reports for any selected System Loads and Sizing results file
  • Set relevant coils for Heating & Cooling peaks
  • Include or exclude oversizing factors
  • Reports include:
    >> Project and climate (building, weather, etc.)
    >> Plant loops & equipment (capacity, flows, etc.)
    >> Space loads & ventilation (system summary)
    >> System Loads (detailed loads breakdown, coil capacities airflows, engineering checks, etc.)
    >> Zone Loads (same as for System)
    >> Room Loads (same as for Zones)
    >> VE2016 System Sizing report
    >> ASHRAE 62.1 Ventilation (Appendix A method)


Parallel simulation manager (PSM) is intended to allow you to manage simulations within the Virtual Environment.


  • Significantly speeds up simulations
  • Separates the simulations from the VE interface meaning that you can continue to work on a model and set up a new simulation etc. whilst your current model is simulating


Python Scripting (PS) is the new API for the VE replacing the older API approach (APSFILE.DLL). This unique, innovative approach allows users to create their own customised scripts, some automation and reportage, which can be easily shared through your own navigator. The PS API consists of two main features, the Python Console or Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and the Python Navigator. The Console IDE allows users to create their own scripts and promote them to their own Navigator. The Python Navigator allows access to the resultant ‘program’.


  • Create / share user content driven reportage / visualisation / analysis
  • Reduce time spent on tasks through automation
  • Define workflows & Navigators that are bespoke to your needs
  • Tighten up Quality Assurance using your own workflows
  • Scripts can be distributed for use in Navigator or IDE and can be pin protected or encrypted if desired
  • Script store available in March 2017 for purchase and submission of scripts


Parametric tool, an outcome of the IES R&D project UMBRELLA, is a standalone tool that references a VE model with the advantages being that the VE can still be used whilst any parametric study is being performed. Parametric is completely customisable in every respect, making it a very powerful tool for the expert user.


  • Model multiple scenarios and combinations of building design inputs
  • Use Parametric to set-up and manage design variants, saving time and cost
  • Independent tool to run parametric studies on VE models without locking VE licences
  • ‘Templates feature’, allowing non-expert users to use to tool readily
  • Templates can be created and shared for quality and repeatability for all users
  • Only produces the results you ask for to reduce amount of storage required

To learn about all the new VE 2017 features visit www.iesve.com/VE2017

You can also view all of our new VE 2017 feature videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRHRHd8DzhSouhWRdBbGBddHr29qHhDYm

To upgrade to VE 2017 visit http://www.iesve.com/software/download

The AIA recently issued a press release announcing the findings of its AIA 2030 Commitment 2014 Progress report.
The report showed that nearly half of energy-modeled projects met or came close to meeting 2014 carbon reduction targets, with a quote from the press release saying “Quite simply, energy modeling presents the greatest opportunity for architects to realize more ambitious energy-saving in their design projects.”

The press release featured industry experts who agreed that energy modeling is key to reaching carbon neutrality in buildings. We interviewed one of the experts, Kim Shinn, a Sustainability Wizard at TLC Engineering for Architecture, to find out more of his views on energy modeling and the benefits of an integrated design workflow.

Why is an integrated design process, where the architect, engineer, owner, developer, and contractor are a critical part of the concept modeling stage, so important to creating sustainable buildings?
A couple of reasons come to mind.  The first is the principal that the earlier you can make an informed decision, the greater its impact on the building’s potential to perform well and the lower it will cost to implement. The second is that each member of the team brings special knowledge, perspective and experience to help inform those decisions – we benefit in the whole having greater knowledge than the sum of the parts.

Why is it so important for Architects to incorporate energy modeling as part of their design process?
All building performance simulations, not just the ones that model energy performance, are incredible tools that open a window into the design process.  Buildings are complex, comprising interactive elements and systems that defy the human mind’s ability to integrate all that information to develop design solutions and evaluate alternatives.  The decisions that project teams must make, especially the architects, from siting and orientation, to massing, to fenestration, to program area assignment, all the way down to envelope constructions are best informed when the architect understands the energy implications of those decisions, along with cost, aesthetics, function and human health and wellness.  Architects have to balance all those factors and the more information that they have about them, the better decisions they can make.

What do you think makes Architects hesitant about energy modeling? What are the obstacles to the uptake of energy modeling?
Energy modelling tools, especially the ones with a lot of power and capability, can be very complex and intimidating.  I frequently tease architects that energy models are powerful and complex tools, and as with many powerful and complex tools, an inexperienced operator can be maimed if not careful.  Also, the output of some of the older tools have traditionally been mostly numerical and not easily or quickly understood without a lot of “post-processing”.  Understanding and effective use of an energy model depends upon the user’s ability, skill and knowledge of building science.  Unfortunately, some architects are intimidated by “science” and think that “science” is the province of engineers.  So, I think architects are hesitant because they fear that they won’t be able to use the software and/or understand the model’s results without having to hire a consultant (normally an engineer).  Who wants an engineer around during design anyway – their vocabulary usually starts and ends with “no”.  Architects think it will take too much time and money (especially if they have to pay a consultant to do it).  Therefore, the obstacles:  knowledge, time and money.

Do you think concept energy modeling is enough? Is there a need for more detailed energy modeling at the early stages to uncover innovative strategies?
Concept modeling is a start, and needs to be more widely used.  If it becomes more routinely used, I think teams will see that there are opportunities to investigate novel and innovative strategies at early stages of design – especially to determine if further, more intensive investigations are warranted and feasible.

In your experience of using IESVE do you think it enables more detailed analysis at early design stages? If so can you explain how it does this?
Without question.  The integrated suite of solar, daylighting and glare analysis, wind and ventilation modeling, along with the energy analysis offered in the VE sets it apart in its ability to figuratively “open the windows” [pun intended] for looking at any number of early strategies that help shape the building’s architecture.  Effective daylighting and natural ventilation depend so much upon building form, fenestration and orientation that it is difficult and usually prohibitively expensive to develop and implement good solutions after those decisions are made in the absence of the information gained from simulations.  The VE also has enormous power and potential to influence, not only energy performance, but also the health and wellness performance of buildings, especially when it comes to occupant comfort and productivity that results from good daylighting, indoor comfort and natural ventilation.

Do you think the AIA guide will have a significant impact on increasing the amount of projects that use an integrated design process?
The Institute is incredibly influential.  It is trusted by its members, as well as the greater design and construction community, for the quality of its educational offerings as well as for helping shape the culture of the design practice.  The education materials developed, as well as the policies adopted and advocated by the Institute have the potential to change the way architecture is practiced, not only in North America, but around the world.  And these changes affect the way real estate development happen – all the way from client expectations to project delivery to actual performance.

Do you know of any good project examples that have used an integrated design process and are achieving good results? Can you share these with us?
I daresay that any Living Building or LEED Platinum project is an excellent example of an integrated design process.  In fact, it is almost inconceivable to think of achieving those levels of performance without using integrated design processes – short of spending inordinate sums on “buying points” and excessive renewable energy capacity.  While we have many, many examples of these projects, I’ll just cite one.  The fitness center at Tyndall Air Force Base is the US Air Force’s first LEED Platinum building, and the first LEED Platinum project administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The architect was Atkins and TLC provided the building systems engineering.  The Air Force wanted to use the project as an educational demonstration project, to demonstrate how integrated design and incorporating early energy modelling could achieve high performance goals – they wanted the project to demonstrate how to achieve LEED Silver level on a “conventional” building budget.  I think it speaks volumes that we were able to achieve Platinum on a pre-LEED budget.  We used energy modelling at the concept phase to influence site orientation, massing, and fenestration approaches to minimize solar gain and maximize daylighting potential, as well as to maximize the solar photovoltaic and solar thermal potential of the building for no capital cost impact.  We used energy and daylight modelling to size the window apertures and glazing material selections during design development, as well as to optimize the equipment sizing, achieving significant capital cost savings over more “conventional” approaches.

Building tuning has long been recognised as a critical method for improving the performance of existing buildings. However estimating the potential benefits of HVAC control adjustments can be difficult if you don’t have the right building simulation technology.

A paper written by Dr Paul Bannister and Hongsen Zhang of Energy Action Pty Ltd (incorporating Energy Australia Pty Ltd), was recently published in Ecolibrium, the official journal of AIRAH. The paper named ‘What simulation can tell us about building tuning’ investigates how by using the IESVE, it is possible to test a number of common tuning strategies to determine their effectiveness in achieving energy savings.

Using an IES Simulation Model, the impacts of a number of common control algorithm adjustments were assessed, including dead-band adjustments for VAV terminals, fan control and supply-air temperature control, economy cycle and minimum outside air control. Results are repeated for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Darwin to show the way energy impacts change with climate.

The Base case is a typical Australian commercial building with a conventional well-designed VAV HVAC system. The VAV configuration represents the most common building servicing type for medium to large buildings in Australia.

Combined scenarios with common failures or improvements are used to show that the difference between best practice and poor control can range as high as 90 percent, demonstrating the fundamental importance of control. Sensitivity to control is considerably greater in milder climates.

Click here to read the full paper.

Achieving True Sustainable Design

Posted: November 29, 2011 by , Category:Sustainability

This month, our Founder and CEO Don McLean published an article with Area Development titled, “Building a Strong Energy-Efficient Foundation“. In the article, he explores the value of quantifying and incorporating building performance analysis into the earliest stages of the architectural design process.

Why is early-stage performance analysis so important? To answer that question, here are a few take-aways from the article:

– When it comes to designing sustainable buildings, building performance analysis is key. After all, by using performance analysis software, architects and engineers can not only virtually test the feasibility of different energy-saving strategies, but they can also make much better decisions on elements that play an important role in reducing the energy consumption of a building.

– Performance analysis helps to understand how a building will perform under predictable circumstances, which is required for a sustainable, energy-efficient design. What’s more, the biggest impact in terms of designing a sustainable building can be made by using performance analysis software from day one and through every step of the way.

– With performance analysis, realistic energy goals can be set and reached. How? Analysis can identify and understand the big issues related to building energy use and performance, which supports the setting of goals and the ability to choose and design strategies to achieve them.

At the end of the day, it’s all about achieving true sustainable design. As architects and engineers act on performance analysis metrics and identify the key drivers for an energy-efficient foundation in the earliest stages of the design process, we can expect to see much more sustainable design in the years to come.

Have you heard the latest? Just issued at the end of last month, the USGBC announced that as part of LEED v3, they will be requiring all projects pursuing LEED certification to comply with a new performance requirement.

They provide three options for fulfillment:

– Recertify the building on a two-year cycle with their existing buildings program – LEED-EBOM

– Provide the building’s energy and water usage data annually

– Building owner allows USGBC to access data directly from the utilities provider

So, what do you think?  Me, I think this is huge. But in a positive way or a worrying way?

Initially LEED v3 seemed like it would completely revamp the building certification program and really get to the bottom of critical items — add new credits, drastically edit existing ones, add new categories.

In the end, LEED v3 was mainly a realignment of the existing LEED rating systems to set up for the next big move. And that’s what it looked like, until this latest requirement associated with LEED 2009 was issued.

On paper, I couldn’t agree more, there is a big disconnect between building design/construction and building operations. Very few architectural design firms perform a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) or something similar to inform and improve future design. Same goes for engineers, contractors and others in the field.

As someone in the field of analyzing the real or virtual performance of a building, I fully recognize the importance of this dataset. The question is how will this information be shared so that the general public can benefit? Will the USGBC be making public this new database similar to what the Department of Energy does with the CBECs database of commercial energy uses and costs?

The reaction I’ll be curious to see is from the owners. Is this request just too much?  Will it discourage some owners from pursuing LEED? Especially those that are new to the arena and still unsure. I’m not sure, based on my experience and having worked with the full spectrum of owners: developers complying with regulations (i.e. Boston’s Article 37) to non-profits pursuing sustainability regardless (i.e.  The Audubon Society).

In the end, this is the right move forward. USGBC is about market transformation. This will start changing the norm. However, critical at this juncture is the execution, dissemination and utilization of this new measure and the information collected. If not handled properly, it may be perceived by the general public as a way for the USGBC to make more money through LEED-EBOM.

Dr Don in Hong Kong!

Posted: July 1, 2009 by , Category:Uncategorized

Our managing director, Dr. Don McLean, came to visit me in Hong Kong for 2 days last week. While he was here has gave a free seminar to introduce the forthcoming <Virtual Environment> version 6.0; including the new VE-Gaia, enhanced Sustainability and LEED Toolkits, and other new (hush hush) additions and enhancements.

The seminar was held in Caine Room, Level 7, of the Conrad Hotel on 26th June 2009 from 9:15am to11:30am. We had 28 out of 35 people turn up, mainly engineers with a few architects, representatives from academic institutes and specialists in BIM. Companies included: Arup, Hyder Consulting, AECOM, Scott Wilson, Cundall, MTR, RMJM, InteliBuild, Integrated Design Associates Ltd, Form

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and Structure, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

We received a great response from the audience with the concept of VE-Gaia drawing the most attention – people could really see how it will be much easier for them to step from the VE-Toolkits into the full capabilites of VE-Pro using VE-Gaia. The new features of the Sustainability and LEED Toolkits also received a lot of interest among companies working on LEED projects.

We’d like to thank everyone for attending and the assistant of Tecton Limited in organising this seminar.

Jimmy Lee

Check out this great round-up of sustainable analysis tools exhibited at AIA by Lachmi Khemlani, founder and editor of AECbytes www.aecbytes.com/feature/2009/AIA2009_EnergyApps.html.

It includes our new VE-Gaia tool which we previewed there… “IES, the leading vendor in the performance analysis field, introduced a new application, VE-Gaia, to add to its already substantial product repertoire.”

However, it was her comments in the conclusion that really struck a chord with me. It is very encouraging to have finally reached a point where the importance of analysis tools and optimisation of building performance in sustainable design is becoming widely recognised. Enabling this ease of use and access to analysis tools is at the very center of our entire ethos. These are very exciting times for us!

“The increase in the number of analysis tools is a testament to the increasing importance of sustainable design in architecture and the need to optimize building performance. Unlike in the past, when performance analysis was primarily the purview of energy experts, academics, and research institutions, they are now becoming a part of the mainstream architectural toolset, with interfaces that non-technical people can also easily use and understand. Of course, the maxim of “garbage in, garbage out” very much holds true for sustainable design tools as well, and it is easy to be seduced by the colorful diagrams and charts and omit to question the veracity of the input and the accuracy of the output. It’s terrific that we have finally reached the point where the input of building geometry to the analysis tool directly from a BIM application has become a commonplace feature–but we have to keep in mind that geometry is only one of the inputs, and that an accurate analysis depends upon a whole host of other input data that has to be specified correctly as well. It is here that the experiences and insights of an energy expert come in and play a critical role in the design of sustainable buildings. Thus, while it is great to have the tools with their ever-increasing capabilities, it is important to not forget the human element that is ultimately needed for the creation of successful sustainable architecture.”

Lachmi has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specialising in intelligent building modelling; she both consults and writes on AEC technology. Read the full article and sign up to her newsletters at www.aecbytes.com/feature/2009/AIA2009_EnergyApps.html.


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