NBI unveils free LEED Automation tool

The Comnet Energy Modeling Portal saves building designers time by automating upload of energy data to LEED Online.

New Buildings Institute (NBI - Washington, D.C.), a non-profit organization working to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings, announced the official release of one of the first LEED Automation tools available to LEED project teams.

The Comnet Energy Modeling Portal is an online platform used to collect energy modeling simulation results, perform quality assurance checks, and submit the results to LEED Online to be assessed for the Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 2 and Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1 rankings. “Users of the portal can save substantial time and reduce errors in LEED submittals,” notes Comnet's business manager, Jared Silliker. “Until now, energy modelers have had to sift through pages of output reports, locate the appropriate data, convert units, and then manually type this information into the LEED Online Templates."

See also:USGBC names top 10 states for LEED projects

Via the new tool, LEED Online users can upload modeling results directly from their simulation software to the Comnet Energy Modeling Portal. The portal can be used for new construction, core-and-shell, and schools projects. The tool filters results automatically, performs basic quality assurance checks, and sends the results directly to LEED Online. From the portal, users can review the official LEED Online template to ensure that it has been filled out appropriately.

“The Comnet portal will allow design teams to spend more time focusing on optimization of proposed designs, rather than non value-adding tasks," asserts Roger Chang, principal and director of sustainability at Westlake Reed Leskosky, a building design firm based in Washington, D.C. "I envision at least a day’s worth of time saved from not having to manually fill out forms (for EAp2 and EAc1)."

“The new Comnet portal will be a valuable, time-saving tool for LEED project teams,” adds Scott Horst, senior vice president, USGBC. “LEED automation is changing the LEED certification landscape and helping accelerate the marketplace.”

The portal supports exports from eQUEST, Trane TRACE 700 and EnergySoft’s EnergyPro applications. Trane and EnergySoft utilize the Comnet XML Schema, which is publicly available for vendors to incorporate in their building energy modeling software to export standard data. Comnet is working with other modeling software vendors who are adding an XML output option.

The Comnet portal is currently free to use, but payment for the service will be required after October 1. The introductory fee per project will range from $500 to $1,000 depending on project size.

“This is a non-profit initiative to improve and streamline the modeling process. We want to keep the fee low to maximize the use of the tool,” concludes Comnet's Silliker. “We anticipate that the time modelers will save on submissions will make the nominal fee well worth it.”

The Comnet Energy Modeling Portal tool can be accessed at www.comnet.org/portal.

Related story:What's wrong with LEED

More in Power & Cooling