Without making the argument whether AutoCAD Architecture is a valid BIM platform, or is just “Better for architects”, with this new release one can not but acknowledge the return of the very useful ability to export an ACA based model into gbXML format. This time, unlike with the version 2006 and prior, this is not a third party developed plug-in but is part of this version core functionality.
So why is this a big deal, or is it? Well ACA has one very peculiar object type. The e-space object is probably unlike any other ACA object, in terms of its capacity to serve as a fully customizable data container, as well as in its ability to be shaped with an ease that very closely resembles the functionality of SketchUp or the ease of Ecotect’s zones. Its geometry can be chiseled into almost any conceivable shape, but what really makes it unique in this version is the ability to assign surface enumerator types (analytical surface tags) to any bounding surfaces, including opening types, windows and doors, and export them as such for analysis to Green Building Studio.
Unfortunately, as this platform is being marketed as just a better drafting tool for those architects that still did not cross over to the other side, most e-space features are being underutilized. Their suitability for program evaluation (a minimum BIM compliancy requirement by GSA), FM required data encapsulation, and now the ability to create quick schematic design energy evaluation models places them in the category of objects that have no true competition in any of Autodesk’s offered BIM platforms. Not to exaggerate, but one can literally make e-spaces talk to the user and report any programmed relationship within the BIM model! (This example will be posted soon.)
In the next few weeks I will attempt to evaluate the quality of ACA’s 2009 gbXML file and its compliancy to gbXML schema 0.35, both in the Green Building Studio environment and hopefully with the new release of highly anticipated Ecotect 5.60 that will be able to import gbXML compliant files.
So, for anyone that wants to get their feet wet and evaluate their schematic design energy models at the early stages of their design process, the 2009 line of Autodesk architectural products is bringing some rather interesting improvements.