Side by Side

Comparing the envelope performance of a virtual home using 3D technology

By Matt Power, Editor in Chief, Green Builder

NOT SO LONG AGO, IF WE WANTED TO COMPARE THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF DIFFERENT WALL BUILD-UPS,  roof build-ups and materials, we had to build several homes and measure outcomes over time—using mechanical tools. Not any more. We asked our friends at Dietrich’s Software to use their sophisticated 3D-CAD/CAM digital tools to simulate how various envelope build-ups would change the overall energy performance of a virtual home (a modern farmhouse, pictured in rendering above; floor plan right). They did, and brought to light some intriguing insights into the pros and cons of various wall systems. 

Below is an overall chart that illustrates the energy use of each of the construction techniques studied. To find this data, Dietrich's Software determined the heating energy required per year, per square foot. The heating systems, doors and windows in each individual building model are considered identical. Systems with lower BTU ratings would require less annual heating energy.

Construction Technique Energy Rating Chart

R Value BTU/ft² %
R-13      23,582 100.00
R-19 19,132 81.13
R-25 17,531 74.34
SIP-R-23  18,049 76.53
ICF-R-20 18,541 78.62
X-Lam-R-24  15,407 65.33
X-Lam-R-28 14,449 61.27

 * The data in above chart only reflects the impact of the building envelope, not other systems in the house. Also, this modelings does not take into account the embodied energy of the initial product selections.  

To get the full article, which drills down on the seven construction techniques, with information on exterior wall build-up values, performance characteristics, dew point diagrams, and cross sectional views, download the pdf here.

For an in-depth tour of Dietrich's Software, watch the movie. 

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Virtual Home Layout 

1st Floor


  2nd Floor


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And Find Your Local Representative 

If you want a personalized tour of Dietrich's Software, we've got you covered. Product experts from Roger Shaw & Associates (RSA)—the exclusive distributor of Dietrich's Software in North America—are available to walk you through a product demonstration and help you locate a local representative. The walk through will show you the advanced capabilities of Dietrich's Software, focusing on: 

  • Build-up capabilities incorporating energy efficiency software intelligence
  • 2D to 3D design conversion while working seamlessly inside AutoCAD
  • Powerful user-friendly automated CAD tools 
  • 3D data extraction for material management and design communication
  • Design performance reviews for energy evaluations
  • Visualization for technical communication
  • How to integrate the software in an actual design project while working directly inside AutoCAD. 

Visit RSA's website and get started!