Don’t let the title, Spreadsheet Sustainability, of Russell Fortmeyer’s McGraw Hill Construction—Continuing Education Center article mislead you. Yes, he does make the case that a surprisingly large amount of advanced sustainability strategies are analyzed and designed not with sophisticated, packaged, integrated design models, but with sophisticated, proprietary spreadsheets, crafted by engineers to solve problems that packaged software often cannot tackle.
Spreadsheets allow designers to rapidly modify assumptions and permit peer review of all assumptions and algorithms. Spreadsheets also can be rapidly and radically changed to absorb new information and to try new ideas. They can draw upon the results of other models, as inputs, and their calculations can be formatted, as needed, to be fed into other programs.
But Fortmeyer does not limit his article to spreadsheet calculations. He addresses the use of spreadsheets within a context of multiple tools that designers use to better understand the complex strategies that are evolving to greatly increase building performance. He discusses simulation engines that analyze thermal performance, air flow, and daylighting. He also considers advances in “real-time modeling” and predicts the evolutionary time line of “fully integrated” software packages.
The article includes a comprehensive list of building physics software.