Ecotect insolation imageI and 50 other architects, designers, engineers, consultants and construction professionals just attended the inaugural meeting of the newly formed Seattle Ecotect® User Group. This meeting, sponsored by IMAGINiT and Callison Architecture was held at the Seattle offices of Skanska. Surely this will be the first of many exciting collaborative, and community-building meetings to come.

For those not familiar with Autodesk Ecotect: It is an early building performance and design analysis tool for use by architects and designers. Its primary purpose is to aid in the iterative design process and gain valuable early insight in to cost and performance measures of buildings, and can greatly contribute toward reaching energy efficiency and sustainability goals. Ecotect is very graphical in nature, and thus provides those sexy images that help sell complex ideas to the client while working with a broad suite of environmental analysis tools. Ecotect plays somewhat well with others, as it can import files from SketchUP, Revit, and other 3D CAD and BIM applications using the gbXML file format, and can also export data to many precise engineering tools such as EQuest, Radiance and EnergyPlus.

Some folks joined the meeting as an exploration of available technologies, and are studying their options for sustainable design tools. Others, approximately 25%, were current Ecotect users and expressed a desire to share experiences and best practices to take back an implement in their work.

A presentation and model sharing was given by Teresa Burrelsman of Callison, discussing the need for quick design simulation during a schematic design for a new tower in the city of Riyadh, and showing how Ecotect was used to determine energy cost savings and occupant comfort (especially reducing glare) by various schemes using shading devices. There was some discussion of these quick, down and dirty, ‘shoebox models’ and how invaluable they can be to drive design iteration.

Olivier Pennetier of Symphysis, a leading regional Ecotect consultant,  joined by phone from his office in San Francisco and offered advice on modeling practices, as well as providing food for thought on how the community can begin to share information learned from the informal conversations these types of meetings generate.

Based on those in attendance, it was determined that the next meeting will take place on the second monday of the month, July 13th. The location is still to be determined. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to add to the discussion on this post. As more information on the next meeting becomes available, I will provide an update here.

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