Simulation software helps cut energy bill

The Energy Department has released its next-generation energy-simulation program, which is intended to enable 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 goes a step beyond previous DOE software for building- energy simulation.

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 effects of window blinds, electrochromic window glazes and complex daylighting systems, which was not possible with previous DOE software.

The EnergyPlus input and output data structure allows for development of third-party interfaces, including the 15 already available for Energy's previous software edition, DOE-2.

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 and many federal courthouses, according to DOE.

EnergyPlus is available on the Web at www.eren.doe.gov/buildings/ energy_tools/energyplus. There is no charge to use the program. A commercial license to distribute modified versions of the program costs $1,000; with a source-code addendum, it is $2,500.

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