The OpenStudio 1.0.0 by NREL, a National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, is a free and open source plugin and software, designed to develop energy and heat load calculations for buildings. OpenStudio is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and provide software tools that supports whole building energy modeling using EnergyPlus. This graphical application also includes the updated SketchUp Plug-in which easily adds OpenStudio’s context to your Sketchup program.
OpenStudio 1.0.0 allows for the use of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) data within its software and plugin. Some of the coolest features of this application is that it comes fitted with pre designed and ready-to-use templates, creates alternative designs easily for comparison and generates a separate file for use in the Open Source program. Also, reporting is very detailed with a nice template design. There are plenty of tutorials available and a set provided by OpenStudio at: https://extensions.sketchup.com/en/content/openstudio-100 another tutorial can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PY7QRo1FcQ
Though the OpenStudio 1.0.0 provides a visual HVAC and service water heating design tool, that allows you to adjust heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls, OpenStudio 1.0.0 can be a bit buggy, with a few glitches, if the software freezes it may become difficult to resume your work. A suggestion is that you save multiple versions both in SketchUp and within the plugin’s save feature. From my experience, the software has a very complicated method of generating PDF Reports. You will be required to use the basic text data and then copy and paste this into Microsoft Word or a similar word processing software. The learning curve for this software is a bit steep, very time consuming to understand software and all aspects of the design.
Overall, considering that this is a free software, OpenStudio 1.0.0 is very robust, however, the software can create very accurate designs. It may take some time to fully grasp all the processes but it will be well worth the investment, especially if you need to do many of these types of designs. For more information, please see NREL’s press release on OpenStudio 1.0.0 at: https://extensions.sketchup.com/en/content/openstudio-100