Software Review: CAD goes green

June 19, 2008
Today, “green” evokes more than a color — it is meant to imply anything that promotes a healthy, long-lived, and sustainable planet.

Recycling is a valid and key component to this, but is no longer enough. We must also commit to “building” a whole, green Earth. Because I believe in this philosophy, I am pleased that TurboCAD Pro V15 has gone “green.” Immediately visible are over a hundred eco-friendly materials in the Materials palette, a link to the Green Building Design Center in the Internet palette, and several folders of eco-friendly design symbols in the Library palette.

Eco-friendly categories include brick, carved stone, grass, weaves and wood inlays. Even before the release of V15, the developer tagged eco-friendly materials with a green-tree logo. As with any material in the program, users apply green materials through the Material Editor. Green materials are fully editable, letting users get the needed look. The developer says these first steps toward green design will be combined with current efforts to partner with name-brand eco-friendly companies to eventually include their materials as well. Often-opposing views as to what constitutes “eco-friendly” make this process difficult, but any efforts are surely steps forward.

It’s evident that the developer put a lot of time and effort into creating the Green Building Design Center at In creating the site, the company says it researched eco-friendly topics and discussed them with builders and architects. Links on the site should help designers and builders make informed project decisions. The developer says it will broaden the site as the research continues.

Eco-friendly design symbols include construction details for categories such as Attic Accesses & Air Seal Systems, Foundations and Flooring, Insulated Siding, and more. Although users are not required to use the symbols, studying the energy-efficient examples can help the reader develop a more in-depth understanding of energyefficient design concepts, and perhaps, feel confidant incorporating these into new designs

A new version of the software plug-in called “1st Pricing” (U.S.- specific) is available for Turbo- CAD. 1st Pricing lets users incorporate its 2D and 3D parametric architectural symbols into CAD drawings and easily generate accurate real-time schedules, including specifications, and price quotations. The plug-in includes a large selection of ready-made windows, doors, skylights, and block glass symbols. After the designer has inserted symbols in his drawing, users generate a schedule of the inserted items. The 1st Pricing server displays many brand choices based on the submitted information. Products with Energy Star ratings (which have met specific energy-efficiency criteria) are identified.

Additionally, to help users make greener choices, the plug-in also has a new schedule field that identifies Low-e materials (low-emissivity). These are intended to suppress radiative heat flow and reduce a product’s U-factor (measure of heat loss). To further the move toward green CAD, IMSI Design says it is planning to include an energy-analysis capability in the software.

As designers, we are in an excellent position to help “further green.” That means we can mandate that eco-friendly materials are used by specifying them on drawings. We can steer projects away from products that pollute towards ones that are can be recycled or that are biodegradable. Follow these practices, and in time your firm will be known for its ecological responsibility and, better yet, will have made a difference.

TurboCAD Pro comes from IMSI/Design LLC, 100 Rowland Way, Suite 300, Novato, CA 94945.

Donald B. Cheke tutors new users in the operation of TurboCAD and creates in-depth tutorials available at Contact Don at 51-425 Bayfield Crescent, Saskatoon, SK Canada, S7V 1E6, (306) 242-9690.

Eco-friendly symbols, shown under the Green Building Design Symbols category, include construction details such as for the design of an atticaccess stair cover. Symbols include those for Attic Access & Air Seal Systems, Building Integrated Photovoltaics, Foundations, Floorings, Insulating Concrete Forms, and Structural Insulated Panels.

Among other objects, the 1st Pricing palette includes many kinds of windows that are editable prior to insertion. Pricing is shown on the schedule after selections have been made.

A basic house has been rendered in raytrace mode. The open Materials palette shows a range of eco-friendly bricks. The workspace may seem cluttered, but auto-hide options or running the program on two screens makes for a less-cramped environment.

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