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I am going to be given a task in the near future to help influence a site
plan over another site plan. Before i start this endeavor, i would like the
community's opinion on the best approach to do this, be it eQuest or Green
Building Suite or some other program.

Rob Hudson

rdh4176's picture
Joined: 2011-02-14
Reputation: 0

How far are these Sites apart? All eQuest or any energy simulation program)?will
influence will be facing direction, any shading from other structures,?and
weather (including Solar).

Not sure what parameters you expect compared..

John R. Aulbach, PE, CEM

John Aulbach's picture
Joined: 2011-09-30
Reputation: 1

My opinion:

There are many tools that would be appropriate for this task. eQuest,
TRACE, EcoTect and Green Building Studio, the plug-ins for Sketch-Up
from EnergyPlus and IES VE, etc.

For something this high level (conceptual pre-design and planning), I'd
personally lean toward using one of the plug-ins for Google Sketch-Up
(assuming you can get a conceptual site model in Sketch-Up). Sketch-Up
allows for quick construction of a site and for visually impactful
presentations. Since this is so high level with very few (if any)
design decisions actually having been made, the "black-box" nature of
these programs is acceptable for comparing alternatives. Obviously as
the design progresses, the value of these tools diminishes. Each of
these plug-ins is also free - and Sketch-Up is free as well.

I prefer the VE plug-in over the EnergyPlus plug-in because it allows
for zones to be constructed first - then assigned to a system and
analyzed. The EnergyPlus plug-in required the masses be drawn with the
energy model in mind. If you're working with an architect who uses
Sketch-Up regularly, the VE plug-in (likely) more closely resembles an
actual workflow for conceptual pre-design work.

I'd also take into consideration which tool I am more comfortable with
(don't know your experience level in energy modeling). The plug-ins are
probably the easiest to learn in a short amount of time.

You can find YouTube tutorials for both the EnergyPlus and IES VE
plug-ins. These are probably a good place to start if you want to go
that route.

Nathan Kegel LEED AP

Nathan Kegel's picture
Joined: 2011-09-30
Reputation: 0

Are you asking what factors affect site design so that you can choose
one over the other, or is your question aiming at which programs can
best help simulate the factors that influence site design? Or is it
Just trying to understand..

Umesh Atre's picture
Joined: 2011-09-30
Reputation: 0

Thanks for all the responses so quickly. The site plans have not yet been
created, and the project is hardly a more than a project name, so my
question was meant to be very general. I am expecting the "model" will be
more of a few generally sized blocks with various arrangements.
My personal experience is in mostly eQuest, but also Trane Trace and very
little time spent in GBS.

It seems like the google sketch up is worth some research as a potential

thanks again for all the help,


rdh4176's picture
Joined: 2011-02-14
Reputation: 0

I'd also support the suggestion to look into Sketchup, alongside the
IES-VE free plugin for sketchup.

The tool is ideally used on very simple geometries ("blocks" sound
perfect), and will let you observe the effects of some of the earliest
design decisions - orientation, site location, comparing different
building massing and glazing configurations - in a time-efficient manner
once you have your feet wet. There are a series of short videos on
youtube (I think linked from the IES website) that do a great job of
giving you a primer before you get started.

I'd also advise on simply planning to dump the models in favor of
eQuest/Trace when the time comes to investigate more in-depth/detailed
items... unless you happen to have a copy of IES's suite lying around
gathering dust of course =). What I'm getting at is I've had very
little luck trying to take sketchup work and move it into another


Nick-Caton's picture
Joined: 2011-09-30
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