Using Smart Software to Improve Your HVAC Design Process

Using Smart Software to Improve a Building’s HVAC Design Process

When designing HVAC systems architects and building designers have sought for years to map out the expected heat profile and air flow accurately and cost-effectively throughout a building, but there had always been an element of guesswork and inaccuracy baked into that process. Fortunately for those involved in the building design process, architects and engineers can use a variety of intelligent software tools that can make optimization of HVAC design easier than ever before. While the use of computer aided design (CAD) for mapping and designing a building is now standard practice in architecture, not all professionals are aware of the possibilities HVAC design tools have to offer.

Key Features of HVAC Design Software to Consider

Engineers and contractors can use HVAC design tools from the early schematic design phase of the building all the way through to the end of construction. In those early processes, the output load model will help right-size equipment and illuminate opportunities for efficient design (e.g., daylighting, high-performance windows, and HVAC optimization strategies).

If you’re newly looking to integrate this crucial step to the building design process, consider the following features to identify the most important characteristics of the software:

01  Interoperability

It’s important to select software that integrates seamlessly with existing workflows and processes. To ensure wide application, the best tools on the market will accept geometry from any architecture tool commonly used in the market, such as Revit, Rhino, Sketchup, and ArchiCAD.


02  Automated Energy Modeling

Teams looking to feed their HVAC design into energy modeling tools like EnergyPlus™ or OpenStudio® later in the design process (whether for planning, compliance, or even Appendix G requirements) should keep that in mind when choosing their preferred software. Ideally, the geometries can even be uploaded to compatible architecture tools to enable customizations like adding names and rooms to the building outline.

03  Ease of Use

The mass digitalization of the architecture industry and the ability to work from any location with a Wi-Fi connection has made ease of use a top priority for engineers. For example, some software tools are now integrated into and accessible by internet browser, meaning files can be opened and edited from anywhere you have access to the web. This feature eliminates the need to transfer large files, helps streamline workflows, and encourages seamless collaboration.

04  Unbiased Methodology

Most legacy HVAC design software providers have implicit ties to mechanical system manufacturers. Finding tools that are completely independent ensure that the results and recommendations provided deliver the best outcomes for every project. Teams should look for tools that are unbiased and focused on data driven design.

05  Customer Support

No matter how intuitive and easy to use a software tool is, being able to reach experts for support on everything from using the software to understanding building science and mechanical engineering cannot be overlooked.

How HVAC Design Tools Can Enhance Your Workflow

The creation of load models is imperative for all building types, regardless of function, size, or geography. But some specific use cases can highlight the best opportunities for savings and optimization with HVAC design tools.

01  Commercial Buildings

In commercial buildings (e.g., office buildings, retail stores, warehouses, and more), regardless of the size, HVAC design tools should enable the generation of room-by-room load profiles. These profiles can then be stitched together to map out whole building loads. Building designers can then understand necessary safety factors to identify the best-sized cooling plant and heating plant so as not to overbuy but allow for an assured level of reliability.

02  Residential Buildings 

Within the residential building space, the use of these smart HVAC design software tools allows for building designers to provide expert advice. For example, a homeowner looking to section out part of their home as a rented standalone unit will need to ensure both the main and rental part of the home has sufficient heating and cooling equipment, capacity, and control. The contractors involved can identify the subdivision load profiles and what new equipment may be necessary.

03  Industrial Buildings

For larger industrial buildings seeking out opportunity for energy efficiency and conservation, bringing in an expert using these types of smart software for HVAC is a great way to get a baseline understanding of the existing building envelope and mechanical systems. Once those components are fully understood, energy experts can come in to right-size the equipment to reduce total energy load, equipment footprint, and overall associated costs.


The use of load modeling is an important step in the building design process, as HVAC systems have some of the highest costs, greatest energy consumption, and most complex footprint in a building. Finding ways to optimize the design and installation is critical, and engineers should look for HVAC design tools that make this process as straightforward, collaborative, and intuitive as possible. 

Want to learn more about HVAC design tools? Discover loadmodeling.tool


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