To get an edge in sales, Ben Jacobson, owner of Jacobson Renovations, in Cambridge, Ontario, has been using Envisioneer software to show clients green building options and energy calculations for their projects. “It’s got a real wow factor,” Jacobson says.

Envisioneer, created by Cadsoft, is building information management software (BIM) that, unlike other BIM software, focuses on residential building and remodeling. It does 3-D modeling, rendering, animation, working drawings, and material take off.

It also is linked to other BIM software applications, bringing them to a central location. The link to Autodesk’s Green Building Studio, allows you to do an energy analysis calculation, for example, giving the carbon footprint, local seasonal weather information, and scenarios for building materials that might be more appropriate for your site; iLevel by Weyerhaeuser offers structural analysis; and 20/20 does kitchen design.

Jacobson, who admits to being new to using software for design, says he first sketches designs in pencil, then brings his laptop to the second client meeting so he can share designs in 3-D. He can toggle back and forth between the existing structure and the redesign. With all the software products “talking” to one another, Jacobson is able to offer clients information on colors or siding, heat-loss calculations, carbon footprint, and other variables. In addition, he says, “I can use it for county approval for construction documents, so I don’t have to redraw for the engineers.”

Jacobson paid a one-time fee for the program. There is a customer-care package you can sign up for.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.