Autodesk Offers Sustainable Design Tools in the Cloud

Autodesk Offers Sustainable Design Tools in the Cloud

Autodesk, the maker of many commonly used green design software tools, is taking its products into the cloud.

Among the offerings that will be available to users in the cloud are advanced 3D modeling tools that can keep tabs on the energy and emissions impacts of design decisions on the fly.

The company introduced Autodesk Cloud this morning and laid out plans to soon offer enhanced versions of some of the firm's more widely used design software via cloud-based computing. "This extends our customers' desktops into the cloud ... it will transform the way they work," said Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk's VP of web services, in a webcast news conference.

Cloud-based computing enables a vast number of users to access large amounts of data and perform complex operations without loading up their desktops or burdening the systems at their workplace. Instead, Autodesk and its web partners will shoulder the heavy compute loads to make the advanced software tools accessible, allowing users to work on less expensive, more lightweight systems without losing computing muscle. The potential that such cloud-based offerings hold for sustainable design of buildings and products intrigues me most.

Over the past year, we've told you about new Autodesk offerings that allow architects and engineers to incorporate early-stage energy modeling into building designs and permit product creators to see the impact of the materials they choose. Taking those functions to the cloud, accelerating them and giving them greater capabilities means that designers can do that work faster, try out more new ideas and share their work with more people -- around the world if necessary -- and do it in real time. Those elements also support the idea of greater collaboration, a key component in sustainable design.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect for me is Autodesk Cloud's capability to generate numerous 3D renderings that incorporate materials, design and energy-impact changes while work is in progress. Though we've come a long way from the days when designers' tools were limited to slide rules, T-squares and curves, renderings still take some time to create.

The new tools also may help speed up the pace of design iteration and client feedback. Recounting the experience of a user who tried out one of the company's cloud offerings, Anagnost said the designer was able to create 20 visualizations in 10 minutes for a client, where previously producing just one would have been a time-consuming project.

Autodesk is initially partnering with Amazon Web Services and Citrix to build its cloud-computing infrastructure and says it plans to add more players in the future.

Want to know more? GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower recently took a deep look at Autodesk's vision for design.

Image Credits -- Cloud photo CC licensed by Flickr user vsz. Rendering of building from Autodesk via Business Wire.