Trane TRACE 3D Plus combines the load calculation and equipment sizing capabilities of TRACE with the annual energy simulation capabilities of EnergyPlus.

TRACE™ 3D Plus combines TRACE’s load calculation and equipment sizing capabilities with EnergyPlus annual energy simulation all with a brand new user interface.


Trane®, the La Crosse, WI company and one of the brands of Ingersoll Rand is known for its HVAC equipment and services, its red circle logo, and the slogan “it’s hard to stop a Trane”. Did you know it is also one of the original players in the load calculation and energy simulation software industry? TRACE™ (Trane Air Conditioning Economics) is one of the longest established product lines in the field, debuting in 1972. TRACE 700 annually ranks among the most widely used energy modeling software packages in the U.S. Now, after 45 years of developing its own calculation engine, Trane is releasing a re-architected TRACE, with DOE's whole-building energy modeling engine EnergyPlus™ inside. The new application, called TRACE 3D Plus, was officially announced earlier this month.

The transition has been years in the making. TRACE is widely-used for energy simulation in part because it is also widely-used for load calculation and equipment sizing. Load calculations—BTU-per-hour heating and cooling requirements and cubic-foot-per-minute airflow requirements—and equipment sizing—selection of HVAC components and sizing of pipes and ducts to meet these requirements—are critical aspects in HVAC systems. They also play a significant role in energy efficiency and occupant comfort. In addition to being more expensive, oversized equipment can yield uncomfortable conditions as the system provides too much heating or cooling too quickly before the zone thermostat reaches the set-point temperature. Oversized systems also tend to “short cycle”—operate in quick bursts rather than longer steady periods—spending more time overall in energy-inefficient “ramp up” modes and in some cases significantly shortening equipment life. Since 2011, Trane has been working with the EnergyPlus development team to upgrade the engine’s HVAC equipment sizing calculations and bring them into alignment with standard industry practice and the depth currently available in TRACE 700. Trane has contributed thousands of engineering hours to developing detailed specifications, reviewing designs, and implementing new EnergyPlus code. These upgraded calculations will benefit all EnergyPlus applications and users. Providing advanced sizing capabilities with advanced annual energy simulation in a single tool reduces engineering effort and improves model consistency and quality.

“Merging the building systems and load sizing proficiency of TRACE with the globally recognized simulation capabilities of EnergyPlus creates a tremendous value proposition for our customers,” said Matt Biesterveld, manager of Trane’s Customer Direct Service group, which develops and supports the company’s energy analysis software tools. “With the new TRACE 3D Plus software, Engineers and Architects will enjoy a more visual and integrated workflow that will help them create models they can trust faster, and at the level of detail they need.”

DOE Building Technologies Office Director David Nemtzow adds, “Right-sizing HVAC systems to reduce energy waste while maintaining occupant comfort is critical to achieving deep energy savings in homes and commercial buildings. DOE sees EnergyPlus as a key piece in this process. We thank Trane for bringing its expertise and experience to EnergyPlus, and are very excited that it will bring EnergyPlus capabilities to its customers.”

TRACE 3D Plus combines the new engine with an improved user interface, which features both 2D and 3D model views integrated into the entire workflow, schematic configuration for HVAC systems and central plants, and other productivity features. Of course, it is integrated with Trane’s HVAC product catalog as well as Trane’s support staff. Trane plans to migrate its user base to the new platform over the next several years.

With a new engine, this Trane will be very hard to stop.