New Buildings Institute (NBI) today announced the official release of one of the first LEED Automation tools available to LEED project teams. The COMNET Energy Modeling Portal is an online platform used to collect energy modeling simulation results, perform quality assurance checks, and submit the results to LEED Online for Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 2 and Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1. It can be accessed at www.comnet.org/portal

"Users of the portal can save substantial time and reduce errors in LEED submittals," said COMNET Business Manager Jared Silliker. "Until now, energy modelers have had to sift through pages of output reports, locate the appropriate data, convert units, and then manually type this information into the LEED Online Templates."

Now LEED Online users can upload modeling results directly from their simulation software to the COMNET Energy Modeling Portal. The Portal can be used for New Construction, Core & Shell and Schools projects. The portal filters the results automatically, performs basic quality assurance checks, and sends the results directly to LEED Online. From the portal, users can review the official LEED Online template to ensure that it has been filled out appropriately.

"The COMNET portal will allow design teams to spend more time focusing on optimization of proposed designs, rather than non value-adding tasks," said Roger Chang, principal and director of sustainability at Westlake Reed Leskosky, Washington, D.C. "I envision at least a day's worth of time saved from not having to manually fill out forms (for EAp2 and EAc1)."

"The new COMNET portal will be a valuable, time-saving tool for LEED project teams," said Scott Horst, senior VP, USGBC. "LEED Automation is changing the LEED certification landscape and helping accelerate the marketplace."

The portal supports exports from eQUEST, Trane TRACE™ 700 and EnergySoft's EnergyPro. Trane and EnergySoft utilize the COMNET XML Schema, which is publicly available for vendors to incorporate in their building energy modeling software to export standard data. COMNET is working with other modeling software vendors who are adding a COMNET XML output option.

The new COMNET portal is currently free to use, but payment for the service will be required after October 1. The introductory fee per project will range from $500 to $1,000 depending on project size.

"This is a nonprofit initiative to improve and streamline the modeling process," explained Silliker. "We want to keep the fee low to maximize the use of the tool. We anticipate that the time modelers will save on submissions will make the nominal fee well worth it."