DOE software cuts energy use

The Energy Department has released its next-generation energy simulation program, which enables architects, engineers, building owners and managers to minimize energy use and related costs.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced the release of EnergyPlus last week and said it is a step beyond previous DOE software for building energy simulation.

"The Department of Energy's EnergyPlus computer simulation program will assist home builders and designers to dramatically lower energy use in buildings," Abraham said in a release.

EnergyPlus enables users to calculate the impact of heating, cooling and ventilating equipment, as well as various types of lighting and windows, with a goal of maximizing building energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Users can simulate the effect of window blinds, electrochromic window glazings and complex daylighting systems, which they could not do with earlier DOE software.

The EnergyPlus simulation program reads and writes output as text files. Its input and output data structure allows for easy development of third-party interfaces, including the 15 already available for Energy's previous software edition, DOE-2.

Most users will use graphical interfaces when these tools become available later this year, and although the program was created primarily for use with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, Linux and Unix versions are available.

DOE developed the program in cooperation with the Army's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, the University of Illinois, Oklahoma State University, the Florida Solar Energy Center, GARD Analytics Inc. and its own Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Many buildings have been constructed or renovated with DOE-2, including the Pentagon, the State Department headquarters, the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, the San Francisco Airport, the Ronald Reagan Library and many federal courthouses, according to DOE.

EnergyPlus can be downloaded for free at: www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/energy_tools/energyplus.

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