I've been checking up on the news releases at BuildingGreen.com, and read an article about the new efforts to make building information modeling (BIM) compatible with energy modeling practices. The two major forces in BIM software are Autodesk (Revit, Autocad) and Bentley Systems, and both have recently acquired software companies that incorporate energy modeling. As BIM has been presented to me in classes, it focuses on recognizing problems in the 3D design (such as a pipe going through a column) and site layout (wrong elevations or materials). This is supposed to create a 'smart' CAD model that finds problems before they are encountered in construction and end up costing money and time (which is ultimately more money).
For Bentley, this is primarily going to be done through Hevacomp, Ltd., technologies that analyze materials for structural integrity and load capacity. They also analyze materials for amounts of carbon and provide energy-use simulations. Autodesk has also acquired two companies; one that specializes in translating BIM data into energy-use models and another that also analyzes building materials but provides other information such as indoor pollutant concentrations.
I had never really thought of BIM having energy and environmental elements, but now it seems like a very logical step. I know a lot of large contractors (PJ Dick, Turner) try to incorporate BIM into every project possible, but receive some reluctance from subcontractors, and almost every architecture firm (The PJ Dick speaker had said they have not received cooperation from a single architecture firm.) The new energy and environmental aspects I doubt will have an impact on the number of cooperating subcontractors, but possibly could lure architecture firms if they are keen on marketing themselves as eco-friendly designers. Also I began to think if this could be incorporated in LEED, and got very excited at the prospect of using BIM and LEED together, as the 3D model could become a calculator for how environmental sound your materials and design are.