Are greener building products worth the investment in design and construction?
Ekotrope, a software developer in Cambridge, Mass., spent 18 months testing a program called HomeSEED for analyzing, managing, and designing energy-efficient buildings. That software’s difference, says Blake Bisson, Ekotrope’s vice president of sales and marketing, is its flexibility in comparing component and construction options so architects and builders can determine which fit their energy and cost goals. “The algorithms are the ‘secret sauce’ for designing an efficient home,” he explains.
HomeSEED comes in two versions: HomeSEED Estimator, which calculates energy use, cost, emissions, and compliance for home design, and does cost-benefit analyses for component upgrades; and HomeSEED Analyst, with advanced tools. Ekotrope charges an annual fee of $399 for Estimator, and $1,999 per project for Analyst.
HomeSEED “allows you to make simple assumptions at early stages of the process,” says Brian Anderson, a partner with the architectural firm Anderson Porter Design. Mark Doughty, president of ThoughtForms, a custom builder in West Acton, Mass., adds that builders who try to introduce sustainability into a house that’s already been designed are at a disadvantage with customers. HomeSEED “allows us to plug in options and spit out the answers.”