Clean, renewable energy and efficient technologies (RETs) for heating, cooling and power have been developed and are now ready for use in sustainable construction around the world.  However, we must first understand where it is necessary and what technologies can effectively be used.  While loading up a building with every new renewable, energy efficient technology may seem sustainable, in contrast it is not.  To make a sustainable building as efficient as possible, a design approach must be developed according to the specific geographical location and climate of the construction site.  RETScreen software is a tool that responds to this need to assist energy efficient decisions of construction projects by mathematically and financially justifying the use of energy efficient systems.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources distributes free ‘clean energy project analysis software’ on their website.  The software was developed by the Canadian government in conjunction with industry experts and academia.  The software runs off of macros on Microsoft Excel.  Don’t be quick to judge the software as unprofessional for this reason because it works and serves a purpose. 

The software guides the user through a five step process of data collection and analysis according to user input about a specific construction project including an energy design proposal.  The software provides a very powerful spreadsheet that will save a project tons of money in feasibility studies.  It is highly comprehensive including energy load calculations depending on size, location, and use of the building.  Based on these calculations, the software produces charts and graphs to show strengths and weaknesses in certain energy systems throughout the year.  It also generates financial summaries that can help decide what energy proposal is most economically viable.

Overall, the RETScreen software is a powerful tool that is free, provided by the Canadian government.  It has won several public service awards and is sure to be appreciated more as it gains a respectable authority and source in the industry.