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A team of students from Warsaw University of Technology in Poland were last month named the winners of the ‘HVAC System Selection’ category in the 2017 ASHRAE Student Design Competition. IES partnered with the student team to provide free access to its Virtual Environment (VE) software.

The ASHRAE Student Design Competition recognizes outstanding student design projects, encourages undergraduate students to become involved in the profession, promotes teamwork and allows students to apply their knowledge of practical design.

The winning project, PROJECT ISLAND, aimed to design the best HVAC system for a building of a metro station located on one of Diego de Ramirez Islands in Chile, 60 miles from Cape Horn. The students used the IESVE to model the HVAC system and run calculations and dynamic simulations that were compatible with ASHRAE Standards. This included HVAC Loads calculations and solar analysis to measure the amount of PV panels required.

On the project website the team described how they felt about winning the competition…

“We feel honored and proud to be awarded. Getting a first prize in an international, prestigious competition has a truly great meaning for us. It is a valuable, amazing experience. This success is a truly remarkable moment in our student careers.”

The full technical report for Project Island can be downloaded via this link.

ASHRAE Members around the world recently received their 2017 Fundamentals Handbook. Most of us likely received the digital version on a CD. Many of the new updates will impact the HVAC load calculations, performed by mechanical designers day in & day out – there are new design LPDs, revised kitchen equipment resources, and additional climate data, among many other additions!  Something that hasn’t changed: load calculation methods.

The 2017 edition of the Fundamentals Handbook defines only two load calculation methods: the Heat Balance Method (HBM) and Radiant Time Series (RTS). As part of the introduction, the radiant time series is categorized as “a simplification of the [heat balance] procedure”, but what exactly is the simplification?

Heat gain from the sun offers an illustrative example. Solar energy is absorbed by the exterior wall of a building and transfers to the inside of the building by conduction. Because the wall has thermal mass, that heat isn’t transferred immediately – there’s a conductive delay.

Solar energy is transmitted to the inside of the building through the window. Some of the heat is absorbed and reflected by the window, and the remainder is absorbed by the interior surfaces.  When those surfaces later emit that heat by convection, cooling load is created in the room – there’s a radiative delay.

The Heat Balance Method calculates these time delay effects explicitly with some basic assumptions like uniform surface temperatures. There are no arbitrarily set parameters.  Conductive, convective, and radiative heat balance is calculated directly for each surface within a room.

By contrast, the radiant time series (RTS) calculation uses radiant time factors and conduction time factors to distribute hourly heat gains over a 24 hour period instead of iteratively calculating the time delay effects. A table of time factors published in the Handbook determines how long heat is held by a wall or other surface before creating a cooling load in the space.

Whether heat balance method or radiant time series is used to calculate heating & cooling loads, computer software is nearly always employed. IES Virtual Environment (VE) software performs ASHRAE load calculations using the non-simplified Heat Balance Method, calculating heat balance and the resulting loads directly without time factors. To learn more about calculating loads for HVAC design using the VE, check out www.iesve.com/loads.

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

Lindsey WELL BlogFor this blog Lindsey Malcolm of XCO2 discusses considerations of building services engineers and the potential role of simulation in catering for health and wellbeing in the building industry.

Health and Wellbeing. A phrase conventionally connoting to rhyming proverbs about the doctor-dodging power of a daily apple. Yet the proverbial days of the catchphrase are seemingly behind us, as ‘Health and Wellbeing’ is escalating into the latest buzzword within the building industry.

Our clients are demonstrating a growing demand for office spaces, retail areas and homes that enhance human health, productivity, and quality of environment. A business case for investment in health has driven interest in the commercial sector, and attention to this new industry buzzword in the retail and residential sector signifies this isn’t a short-term fad.

The vision of Health and Wellbeing is the long-term facilitation of productive and comfortable environments for the building occupant. Well-designed and operated environments should inspire conscious and subconscious positive lifestyle choices, resulting in healthier, more productive building users.

Considerations for design and beyond

Human health and wellbeing can obviously be impacted by an infinite number of factors; however, it is easier to consider if we chop this abstract concept into tangible and quantifiable chunks. Several core categories have been identified within the industry covering a broad spectrum of health and wellness drivers and indicators. These range from environmental (air quality, water quality, lighting) to behavioural (nourishment, fitness and lifestyle choices, working patterns and stress management).

As building designers, it is obviously outside our area of potential provision to shape to dietary and fitness of our building’s user. But implementing health and wellbeing into buildings is a holistic concept, and will have tangible effects on areas within our scope (see Figure 1).

The adjustment for engineers to consider is:

As building designers, it is obviously outside our area of potential provision to shape to dietary and fitness of our building’s user. But implementing health and wellbeing into buildings is a holistic concept, and will have tangible effects on areas within our scope (see Figure 1).

The adjustment for engineers to consider is: shifting our focus from the working of the building to the living of its user.

This shouldn’t be viewed as a trade-off against conventional design considerations such as energy efficiency or carbon emissions – our aim should be to adapt our existing solutions to improve our output for the people who will inhabit the building. This may involve throwing rules of thumb out of the window, or being guided by a forthcoming set of industry benchmarks – only time will tell. But for now, what we do know is that demand for healthier buildings is increasing, and we must respond accordingly to these requirements from our clients.

The Role of Simulation

Modelling and simulation support building design. Therefore, in order to improve our building design with occupants in mind, there is clearly opportunity to integrate cutting-edge areas of building simulation technologies.

Areas that could benefit from a simulation-based predictive approach could include:

  • Utilising CFD to assess indoor air quality;
  • Performing discretised zonal analysis of thermal comfort for individual occupants;
  • Performance and feasibility of different ventilation strategies;
  • Moisture and condensation management;
  • Reverberation and acoustic impacts;
  • Measuring and design ambient and circadian lighting.

An exciting assortment of modelling prospects; however, it is important for us to remember that modelling and simulation should support building design, rather than instructing. Particularly for health and wellbeing, where the benefits of a well-designed healthy building can be negated by poor operational use and user behaviours, the simulation of predictive conditions is less significant for design than other areas of the building industry.

And on a practical note, the feasibility of modelling so many different elements of building services is questionable – in terms of both metric limitations and issues on cost and resource effectiveness. Could an industry-wide interest in healthier buildings facilitate interest in the development of new metrics, as a way of regulating a better standard of living? Possibly so. Yet until that day comes, let us remember that simulation used for health and wellbeing should be taken with a pinch of salt – not too much salt, mind.

A healthy future for the industry

Simulation is a fantastic instrument to demonstrate the tangible benefits of health and wellbeing application. But let’s not forget the ultimate goal of the health and wellbeing – whether it be assessed through WELL or loosely ingrained concepts – is to facilitate a productive and comfortable built environment. Simulation can certainly be used to deliver this, but it cannot be considered a one-stop exercise. It must remain a tool to support operational-focused design and help to enforce the positive behavioural changes we are designing into our buildings.

As the health endemic continues to infect the building industry, a new ‘normal’ standard of building will emerge, requiring innovation and flexibility from all parties involved in the creative process to work with new concepts and metrics. As engineers and simulation specialists we can emphasise a greater focus on occupants, ensuring the holistic approach to health and wellbeing required to make a tangible difference to quality of life.

And as our building designs advance in the enablement of healthy living, our old proverb may just need a re-write. Forget the apples, dodge the doctor; it’s the engineers keeping illness at bay.

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.

Live from AHR Expo

Posted: January 24, 2012 by , Category:events

Well, we made it to Chicago. We weren’t going to let a little “winter storm warning” stop us from the biggest HVAC show of the year!

The energy has been great at the show so far — lots of excitement for the industry. Prior to the floor opening, there was big news from ASHRAE. The go-to source for standards and education for this industry, ASHRAE got a facelift, complete with a new logo and a new tagline…

Shaping Tomorrow’s Built Environment Today

Given our focus at IES this year, we are thrilled to see ASHRAE’s commitment to pushing the built environment in the 21st century. As ASHRAE President Ron Jarnagin stated, “integrated design is the cornerstone of sustainable buildings.” As the ‘Hub’ for sustainable design advancements, we look forward to joining ASHRAE in the conversation, promoting the importance of utilizing quantifiable performance information to design truly sustainable buildings.

We’ve also been following the conversation on Twitter. Kimberly Schwartz, managing editor of The ACHR News, tweeted a great picture (http://pic.twitter.com/6u2IsRSd) from the show floor yesterday afternoon, adding “…the aisles are still crowded! There’s a good buzz in the air.”

But the highlight of our day yesterday? Well, we’ll just let the image speak for itself…

See you on the show floor!

The United States Conference of Mayors recent Clean Energy Solutions for America’s Cities report is a summary of survey results. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are more than 1,200 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.

I’ll admit, I was a bit worried to dive into the report, with visions of a glum outlook and details that reflect why this cities are not sustainable.

But I’d say things are looking pretty good!

If you want to read the entire report, you can download it here.

But the key findings sum things up quite well.

  • Despite challenging economic conditions, three in four cities (75%) expect their deployment of clean energy technologies to increase over the next five years.
  • Cities identify financial constraints as the most significant challenge to improving energy efficiency and conservation, and developing new renewable energy supplies.
  • LED and other efficient lighting (76%), low-energy building technologies (68%), and solar systems to generate electricity (46%) are the top three choices among mayors as the most promising technologies for reducing energy use and carbon emissions.
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) are shown to have multiple benefits for cities, from helping to cope with higher gas prices to deploying new energy technologies and efficiency measures, now and in the future.
  • Mayors point to the economic benefits of clean energy solutions as key drivers of their energy strategies.
  • For one in three cities, adapting to climate change is already an element of their capital planning and/or capital improvement programs.
  • One-quarter of all cities have already set targets for the use of renewable energy.

What do you think? Are our major cities on a path to a sustainable future? How can we ensure we get there? I certainly think implementing “smart” solutions within commercial buildings is a fool-proof way to ensure energy hogs such as lights and HVAC systems are kept in check, without the need for extra manpower (and extra expenses) to keep tabs during peak demand times throughout the day. But that’s just a small piece of the puzzle. There’s so much more we can do in the world of sustainable design, and we are just scratching the surface

My hope is to view this report 5, 10 years from now and see an even greater move towards sustainability.

Join IES at SimBuild 2010

Posted: July 20, 2010 by , Category:Uncategorized

SimBuild 2010 in New York is right around the corner now – August 11-13 – and it’s not a moment too soon. SimBuild is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, building modeling and simulation conferences in the world. It only happens once every two years, so we anxiously look forward to everything that goes on there when it comes around. We also have plenty in store for this event, too.

IES is sponsoring the show, and that gives us the chance to offer some extra training sessions to attendees. We will be holding two workshops prior to the show. Here’s the schedule:

  • August 9 — Intermediate 3D Modeling, Daylighting, Loads Analysis, and HVAC Systems
  • August 10 — Advanced and Building-Integrated Systems Modeling

Both workshops are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including lunch and breaks, and will be held on the NYU campus (exact location TBA).

Timothy Moore, our Senior Consultant for Special Projects, will be on hand to direct the workshops and show you the expanse of things you can do with IES <Virtual Environment> Version 6.1, such as importing from SketchUp and Revit, daylighting simulation and whole-building energy modeling for the LEED/ASHRAE-90.1 Performance Rating Method.

Cost for the workshops is $350 for one session and $600 for both. Registration is open now, but seats are limited, so don’t wait!

We will also have a demo of IES <VE> at the show on August 12 from 10:30-11:45 a.m., and Timothy will be making a presentation at the show as well (details still TBD).

Of course, our activities are just a small slice of all the exciting things going on at SimBuild this year, from all the workshops and presentations to the banquet that closes everything out. For more on all that’s going on, visit here.

It’s shaping up to be a busy week for IES at SimBuild 2010. We hope to see you in New York City!

An Integrative Design Process (IDP) is a collaborative approach to building design which places a strong emphasis on cross-team integration throughout the development process in pursuit of a ‘whole building’ holistic design. But where does it start and what does it really mean? How can the range of IES <VE> software tools be used to assist in the design process?

In conventional building design a project develops through a strict and rigid chain of milestones and hand-offs e.g. owner requirements to architect, architect’s concept to structural engineer, structural design to MEP engineer etc.

This conventional process means that key members of the design team are often excluded from the initial planning stage, and with the lack of their expert knowledge and insight the project can progress down the wrong path for a significant period of time before serious underlying problems are identified. This leads to inefficiency; higher capital costs, time delays, over-sized HVAC etc.

With an Integrative Design Process (IDP) all key members of the multi-disciplinary design team are included at the very beginning of the planning stage, from the initial conception of the building itself. In this way all major design decisions can be carefully considered in relation to other disciplines right from the outset. This avoids abortive work resulting from single-minded decisions and increases overall project efficiency.

So where does building performance analysis fit-in?

The IES <VE> platform provides a unique set of analysis tools that allow building performance analysis to be used throughout every stage of the project, from concept to completion. An experienced <VE> engineer becomes an integral member of the IDP team and can really help drive the design to meet aggressive sustainability targets and objectives.

Let’s look at the lifecycle of a typical project and how the <VE> could be used at each stage:


Concept: VE-Ware and VE-Toolkits used with Google SketchUp ‘massing’ models of various design options and iterations to determine performance characteristics: climate metrics, optimum site orientation, daylight feasibility, ballpark energy estimates etc.

Scheme: Findings from Concept analysis used to select the ‘optimum’ design solution which is then progressed to schematic stage. VE-Toolkits and VE-Gaia used to enhance the basic design i.e. optimize; shading, building envelope, daylight, energy etc

Detail: Enhanced model from Scheme design is driven more aggressively with VE-Gaia and VE-Pro to extract further energy savings i.e. optimize; HVAC plant selection (right-sizing), electric lighting dimming control strategy, zone set-back temperatures, boiler/chiller optimum start/stop etc.

Construction: Findings from Detail analysis input to Construction Documentation and the optimized Detail model is then
updated with ‘As-Built’ information. This ensures that the specified design has actually been installed i.e. do pressure test results match the design infiltration rates, are installed plant efficiencies and SFP’s as per the MEP spec, has the glazing data specified(u-value, SC etc.) actually been installed? Comparative VE-Pro analyses conducted to benchmark Design vs As-Built

Commissioning: Findings from Construction comparison used to drive Quality Assurance (QA) checks in order to identify areas that are not installed and performing as per design. Detailed <VE> room loads can be used to assist in production of Commissioning Documentation and for balancing calculations for duct and pipework systems.

Operation: 6months to 1yr after completion recorded BMS readings can be compared against the As-Built Construction model. Comparative analysis is used to determine areas of the building and associated HVAC plant which are not performing as per design. The building FM team continues to monitor BMS vs Model readings, making site changes where necessary to ensure that the building operates at optimum performance.

This example illustrates how the building performance analysis can be used to fully support an Integrative Design Process. By utilizing the unique four-tiered <VE> approach (VE-Ware, VE-Toolkits, VE-Gaia and VE-Pro) there is an analysis tool for every occasion which can be closely aligned with the sustainability objectives of the project in order to realize the maximum potential.

Through the use of the Google SketchUp based conceptual <VE> analysis tools a building’s energy and carbon footprint can be optimized from the initial outset of the project, before it has a chance to progress down a wrong path. By getting involved early more aggressive energy and sustainability targets can be met and realized such as LEED Platinum, Estidama 5-Pearl, BREEAM Outstanding etc

But the use of performance analysis tools at concept stage alone is not enough on to reach these higher objectives. Aggressive targets mean that an aggressive modeling strategy must be used an continued throughout the project from concept to completion. This is the only way of designing buildings that are truly ‘green’ and is the only way of taking the Integrative Design Process to ‘Infinity and Beyond’.

Multiplex lets you flex

Posted: January 20, 2010 by , Category:Building Regulations

As an IES energy modeling Consultant I spend a lot of my time creating & populating large HVAC networks, but life has just got a hell of a lot easier for me. The new Multiplex feature in Version 6 of our software allows me to condense large complex ApacheHVAC networks into a much more manageable format with minimum effort. As the demand grows for more detailed HVAC system analysis tools we have been working hard on enhancing ApacheHVAC’s current capabilities in order to meet these demands. I really feel like it now addresses the practical issues that previously existed within the module. Combining Multiple inlets and outlets with the new Multiplex feature allows for multiple HVAC systems to be arranged and organized in such a way so that detailed air side schematics can be mapped accurately on to the ApacheHVAC work space. Creating and assigning layers to a Multiplex is a very simple process especially when using the “assign from room group” feature. Users can now quickly assign HVAC zones to any number of Multiplexed ApacheHVAC networks and populate any number of network controllers with the simple click of a button using a copy and paste command.

I have been putting the new Multiplex feature to the test over the last couple of months on some real life projects of considerable size and have been amazed with the results. Gone are the days of slogging over 400-1000 zone ApacheHVAC networks populating controllers one by one, this new feature increases productivity by an infinite magnitude. Forgive the rave, but I truly believe that through the

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invention of the Multiplex we will see a shift in the level of system analysis performed throughout the building industry, especially in the UK, this new feature really breaks down a lot of barriers and gives users of all levels and technical ability the power to perform detailed system analysis quickly and easily at concept or detailed design stage.



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