[BLDG-SIM] hornets nest?

Dragan Curcija curcija at ceere.org
Thu Jan 27 11:48:29 PST 2000

Let me offer my opinion on this 'controversy'.

I personally disagree with contentions in this posting that "The history of
DOE and the national labs in creating and releasing such software is not
very good" and that "the DOE is spending our money to create new code and
have arguably abandoned the multi-million dollar investment in previous
DOE2.x development".  First let me state that from all available evidence,
the whole DOE (and here DOE is the name of the program - what a strange
choice for program name, BTW) effort is one of the most successful
undertakings in a brief history of computer program development and
represent well spent government dollars by any standard.  The multitude of
published studies and successful use of the program in commercial world,
including numerous PC implementations and user friendly implementations
(including PowerDOE) clearly proves this point.  Not only was it useful in
U.S., but it is widely used world wide helping achieve better energy
efficiency of buildings in the process.

As far as I know neither DOE nor EnergyPlus have any planned user interface
(other than arcane input file format).  That is left to commercial world,
including Jeff Hirsch, to put into PowerDOE.  It seems to me that there is a
quite a bit of confusion about PowerDOE, which is in my opinion, very good
program.  PowerDOE is nothing more than good pre and post processor, which
can have DOE 2.2 or EnergyPlus as underlying engine.  Also, EnergyPlus
doesn't mean abandonment of DOE 2 program, it rather builds on strengths of
BLAST and DOE2 programs, and basically streamlines government money, which
was to some extent wasted on the parallel effort to develop two different
programs for the same purpose.

EnergyPlus is an open source program, and alpha version is just being
released.  For measly $100 (I think) anybody can get license agreement and
build commercial strength pre and post-processor to it.  I believe that many
current developers will use this opportunity and by the time the program is
released (planned for beginning of next year), we will likely have number of
commercial programs that will incorporate user friendly interface.

This is not the first time that government is accused of "wasting tax payer
dollars" by funding these kind of projects.  Being in the field of
fenestration research, sponsored also by DOE, I heard this kind of argument
all too often from various people.  However, whenever I look back I see
literally tens of billions of dollars saved by having government "push" the
envelope and industry, by spending, oh... maybe $100 million over the past
20 years.  What a return on investment!  I don't have data on the impact
that DOE 2 had in the past 20 years, but I bet that they are not far off.  I
have no doubt in my mind that EnergyPlus is going to continue this path of
excellence.  And I am talking only about dollar savings.  How about improved
quality of lives by having more comfortable homes, and by having less

For those who would like to learn more about EnergyPlus (and other
simulation programs) there is going to be IBPSA meeting and software
demonstration in Dallas in conjunction with ASHRAE meeting on Saturday,
February 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. in Pullman A Room at Hyatt Regency Dallas.  It
is open to anyone.

Dragan Curcija,
Senior Research Scientist

University of Massachusetts
Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Engineering Lab Building
Amherst, MA 01003-2210

TEL: (413) 545-4454
FAX: (413) 545-1027
email: curcija at ceere.org
www:   http://www.ceere.org/faculty/curcija.html

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Postman at gard.com [mailto:Postman at gard.com]On Behalf Of Mark Case
  Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2000 4:09 PM
  To: BLDG-SIM at gard.com
  Subject: [BLDG-SIM] hornets nest?

  Most of you are undoubtedly aware of the recent controversy over DOE2.2
PowerDoe and EnergyPlus. I know that many people on this list are actively
involved in one or more of these programs.
  I think this list is as good a place as any to start a serious discussion
about where things are going, why, and how we (users of the tools) feel
about these things.

  I'll start by boldly stating that I don't believe EnergyPlus will provide
a truly useful (on-the-ground useful) tool for many years to come. The
history of DOE and the national labs in creating and releasing such software
is not very good.
  Are the labs and developers trying to create a product useable in a
competitive design consulting world? The last thing we need is another
arcane simulation package with no front end or post processor - been there,
done that. Perhaps new algorithyms and advanced coding are needed but
without the interface they won't help me at all. I'd rather use the `older'
ones and keep the ability to show designers what I'm doing.

  One more comment and question - the DOE is spending our money to create
new code and have arguably abandoned the multi-million dollar investment in
previous DOE2.x developent. Is this the best use of taxpayer money?

  Come on everybody - don't be afraid to weigh-in on this - let's hear your

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