Large architectural design firms have a massive amount of resources at their disposal - from the 3D printers to the LEED gurus to the eco-marked resource libraries to the specifiers to the continuing education classes to the specialized committees...
What's the little guy to do?
Founded in 2000 as an environmental/software consultancy firm, Square 1 research now devotes the majority of their work to energy efficient environmental design. Co-founders Dr. Andrew J. Marsh [insert bazillion certifications and accreditations here] and Caroline Raines [insert bazillion certifications and accreditations here] have developed and produced a ton of corporate-commercial software programs for purchase -as well as various free software packages- to help designers produce the most energy efficient buildings they can.
Various tools from their website include, but are by no means limited to:
ECOTECT is the most user friendly and fully featured building performance analysis and design tool on the market today. It combines an interactive building design interface and 3D modeller with a wide range of environmental analysis tools for a detailed assessment of solar, thermal, lighting, shadows & shading design, energy & building regulations, acoustics, air flow, cost & resource performance of buildings at any scale. ...and even more importantly, it has been written and developed by designers for designers, to be as useful at concept stage as it is during final design development.
With its interactive user interface, the Solar Tool makes the process of accurately sizing and positioning overhangs, shading devices and louvres easy. You will never use manual methods again. This software is a must for architects, planners and building services engineers, anyone who needs to consider the extent of solar penetration into buildings, overshadowing or the most appropriate means of shading a window.
The Weather Tool is a visualisation and analysis program for hourly climate data. It recognises a wide range of international weather file formats as well as allowing users to specify customised data import formats for ASCII files. It also provides a wide range of display options, including both 2D and 3D graphs as well as wind roses and sun-path diagrams.