If you are reading this, there's the likelihood that you have wanted to smash your computer at one time or another. Now, lately, many of you may not be fond of investing in the stock market - so why not invest in your workstation? If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that can upgrade your equipment, this is what I have found to be beneficial.
1) A large IPS monitor (& a 2nd monitor)
I'd recommend these ASUS monitors
I (like many of you) am very nearsighted and energy-modeling has further caused me a number of eye problems. I reduced this some time ago by getting a large IPS monitor, which paid for itself given the lowered eye doctor bills.
In any case, I've found added benefits. I can avoid printing many documents (because I can read construction plans on my monitor - which saves a lot of money). In addition to a regular LCD monitor as a 2nd monitor, this allows me to read drawings and enter inputs simultaneously
2) A solid state drive
In my tests, a solid state drive (or SSD) speeds up calculations, but not substantially (make sure you enable TRIM, and disable auto-defrag!). However, the added benefit: we all know that our energy models crash, and always at the wrong time. With a solid state drive, your computer can be restarted in under 1 minute.
I run multiple machines and the best SSD for the money and for performance is this 240 GB Intel option
3) A 64-bit machine
Use a 64-bit machine and the best RAM you can get. I've shown substantial improvement over 32 bit. This gets somewhat techy for a lot of us, but it boils down to allowing your energy modeling software to use the maximum amount of RAM it was built for (which 32 bit may not support!)
4) A fast, multi-core processor
I've shown 30% improvement when running a long TRACE 700 file on an Intel core i5 3.40 ghz vs a core i7 3.40 ghz. It does depend on the file, but 30% is a lot of time. And I also noticed that I can do other work during simulation. Most energy-modeling software is single thread, which means it only uses 1 core of your CPU (even EnergyPlus, for the most part).
This is a pretty good deal and very fast (I just upgraded to this one)
ASHRAE has all the goods for you to produce quality energy models. Keep your membership active (I just hit the 5-year mark!) and make sure you have your own copy of ASHRAE Std 90.1, and the Std 90.1 user's manual.
With a solid history and phenomenal reputation - ASHRAE materials are a must. And you'll know that you are supporting the most important organization to energy modeling!
6) Automatic file backup
If I need to explain this one, you need to do a few more energy models and unless you are very lucky, you'll know why I mention this. Get a free file backup and get bonus storage here.
This is swaying from the technical side of things a bit, and it might get a little pricey, but it is unhealthy to sit all day and taking a 15 minute break every hour is unrealistic, especially when submitting a LEED energy model.
A sit-and-stand desk is a good idea. Currently, I use an ergonomic monitor system, so I can stand and work at the same time (I simply use a podium and my wireless keyboard when standing).
If you understand LEED (and the whole concept of LEED is not about energy, but about well-being), you might recall that well-being and worker productivity are related. Which is why I added ergonomics to this list!
The bottom line is that with a combination of the technical upgrades, my TRACE 700 and eQUEST models run in half the time than they previously did.
If anyone else has any pointers, please comment!
Bob Fassbender graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in Chemical-Engineering. Following graduation, he spent 3 years working as a Marketing Engineer for Trane C.D.S. In the C.D.S. group, Bob developed and supported design and analysis software, primarily TRACE 700™. In addition to his development work, Bob also traveled around the country as a TRACE 700™ and System Analyzer™ instructor. Bob is also an experienced user with eQUEST energy modeling software. Today, Bob continues training and energy modeling as a LEED accredited professional (with a focus on LEED EA credit 1).
Energy-Models.com is a site for energy modelers, building simulators, architects, and engineers who want learn the basics, to advanced concepts of energy modeling. We've got online training courses and tutorials for eQUEST, Trane TRACE 700, OpenStudio, and LEED for energy modeling. All our energy modeling courses are video based. What better way to learn energy modeling software than screen-casts of exactly how things are done?
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