Technology modernization for energy calculations and environmental impact

Starting with a legacy desktop application, we created a modernized web platform for the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) that enhances speed, efficiency, and mathematical precision.  
RESULTS AT A GLANCE
6
months from design to rollout
40K
active users
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) uses 3E Plus®, an insulation performance model that estimates required insulation thickness, surface temperatures, efficiency, heat loss and gain, and more within the constraints of a user’s project and construction methods. The three E’s represent energy calculations to estimate performance, environmental impact estimations, and economic cost/payback estimations.

Challenge

3E Plus logo
3E Plus® suffered from issues of maintainability. Data was decentralized, collaboration ad-hoc, and each insulation manufacturer hosted a unique version of the tool. Adding new features or fixing bugs was bordering on impossible, and yet the mechanical insulation industry relies on this tool. 

At the same time, the existing model had also become useful to those outside of the intended user base: researchers. These new users were being heavily constrained by the inability of the tool to compute over large datasets.
 

Solution

Our team set out to rebuild the software from the ground up in just six months. We started by leading a design sprint with key stakeholders from NAIMA and its member companies to help inform the platform’s new features and design. We continued to regularly meet with these stakeholders in order to address every challenge brought to the table and promote a human-centric design for the new model. 

We took ownership of the application, centralized data using a cloud-hosted database, and created a custom web platform using open source software to bring all users under the same umbrella.  The calculation engine was rebuilt from scratch and paired with a modern front end to provide users with an intuitive and optimal experience.

Our flexible design approach gave us the ability to easily add new features, immediately respond to feedback, and tweak interface elements as required. We also added modern collaboration features like teams for project and material specifications sharing. Perhaps most importantly, we vastly expanded the scope of our calculations to easily configure thousands of model runs into a single set of parameters.
 

"During the development … the ICF team excelled on three fronts. They utilized a creative process that was inclusive, professional, and well thought-out. The team adapted well to needs that arose. ICF provided confidence throughout the project with consistent communication and a stable project team."

— Charlie Haack, Vice President of Technical Services, NAIMA

Where we are now

The application is currently in its rollout phase, but the new platform already allows users to drastically reduce the time spent performing calculations from hours to minutes. As we phase out the old model, we expect to see roughly 40,000 active users once rollout is complete—and we’re working with NAIMA to plan for further growth. We’ve also begun a second contract focused on developing features to target a wider public audience.  
3EPlus dashboard
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