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UCLA Releases Free Software For Energy Efficient Houses

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Good news for people who use apps to do more than launch irate fowl at unsuspecting swine: UCLA's Department of Architecture and Urban Design has released a free, downloadable version of the Home Energy Efficient Design software, which helps make houses more energy efficient. Researchers first started developing HEED about a decade ago and have targeted it toward architects, contractors, and engineers for the past several years, reports Metropolis mag. But the newly reconfigured software is meant for use "by individual DIY-ers and professionals alike" and provides training workshops for some features. HEED covers the design, construction, and management processes, "starting with designing a floorplan and including standard wall and roof construction, windows, and window shading."

HEED calculates thermal mass and a structure's total carbon footprint--according to Metropolis, that's "almost unheard of" for a free app. The software also integrates with global climate data, and it accounts for the context provided by the surrounding built environment, seriously: "the software now can show the impact of shading provided by distant structures as well as nearby ones, all incorporated into your calculations."

Metropolis thinks that HEED holds major possibilities for home design and construction: "Imagine the ease with which architects and contractors can share information with their clients when everyone in the group is able to use the same software, without worrying about the prohibitive cost or licensing of expensive, specialty programs. What's more, because the program is relatively easy to use, it also means that clients working with professionals can explore different energy-saving options on their own. That can only enhance the communication process."

· Lab Report XVII [MetropolisMag]
· Energy Design Tools [UCLA AUD]