Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Performance Driven Geometry

This is an interesting tutorial on how to use the analytical data from Ecotect with Paracloud's parametric (Generative) design - software solutions that converts Microsoft Excel™ spreadsheets into a powerful generative and associative modeling and analysis application. The similar work flow can be used also with Bentley's Generative Components by integrating the data pool from Ecotect into GC formulas.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Autodesk - Building Performance Modeling Powerhouse

After the recent acquisition of Green Building Studio, the acquisition of Ecotect is anything but a surprise. As the old saying goes, "If you can't beat them, buy them" and ADSK is apparently very good at doing so. What to expect next? Speculations aside, in my opinion another flavor of Revit might emerge, Revit Analytical as the melange of best what GBS and Ecotect can offer, Interface and DOE engine. Only time will show, but today it is quite certain who is 100% committed to BIM and BPA integration.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ecotect v5.60

As far as I am concerned if this June looks like a February (just referring to the 6 months old post on the Ecotect site), it might very well be one. According to the posting on the Square One site, the v5.60 release candidate is available for download and this highly anticipated release could be the one that was worth waiting for. Like I said, if they said February then this is February indeed. Personally I am looking forward to another productive analytical year with Ecotect by my side.
In next few weeks we will put it to the test and see what improvements it brings to the realm of Building Performance Analysis.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

VE-WARE goes live

The Revit integrated VE-Ware is now ready for download . VE-Ware presumably gives instant feedback on a building's energy consumption and CO2 emissions based on real geometry and using international climatic data. Over the next few weeks we will test this application and see how it compares to a range of already existing free applications and services that can be used for the preliminary Building Performance Analysis.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


IES launches free building energy and carbon assessment sotware IES VE-WARE at AIA convention in Boston. VE-WARE will be released in June 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Green Building Studio 3.2 - The first Autodesk update

This is the first release of Green Building Studio after the recent Autodesk acquisition and it brings a few changes. The most noticeable one is tighter integration with the 2009 line of the Revit platform via the External Application addition to the Tool pull down menu.
The second update is the client application for all of the other BIM platforms that can produce gbXML files. Therefore, AutoCAD Architecture 2009 and MEP 2008 and 2009, as well as ArchiCAD users will still have to submit their files outside of their applications.
I almost forgot, black is the new green as the Green Building Studio web interface has changed to resemble the ADSK home page.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Personal wind turbines

The entire product line of Wind-solar hybrid generation system by Loopwing Co. is quite fascinating and quite applicable for various environments from residential areas to remote alpine locations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Revit Architecture 2009 to gbXML – Problematic Structure

Last week, one of the students in my course on BIM tools for sustainable design created a model that had an excess of shading surfaces and as such was rejected by Green Building Studio as invalid geometry. In order to remedy that I suggested that the same model could be processed within Revit Architecture 2009 since, as I have mentioned before, it has the ability to strip the model of excess shading surfaces. At that point this seemed like a good idea, right? Wrong. The model, which had been 4 MB in size, grew to be 48 MB in size and needless to say it was not applicable for simulation. We submitted the XML file to GBS for their analysis, and this is what they found:

RAC 2008RAC 2009
raised floor183650

This morning I decided to put a simple model created in RAC 2008 to the test and, since I suspected that having the structural elements might have something to do with XML output, I placed a simple round (pay attention to the word “round”) concrete column in the center of this test structure. Analysis of the 2008 XML file did not show anything unusual, so I proceeded and opened the same file in RAC 2009. Not to my surprise the newly generated 2009 file quadrupled in size and these are the findings:
RAC 2008RAC 2009
The round column is being defined with 32 segments, and just for the future reference when modeling curvilinear geometry think of the polygon count, as even in these BIM days it still matters.
The conclusion is that the structural element is subtracted from theroom volume, the void is therefore tessellated, and surface type enumerators are assigned to the newly generated surfaces. Interestingly the enumerator for the vertical faces is the exterior wall, and this poses an alternate problem related to the overall calculated mass of the analytical model. Now, although in both versions of RAC the structural element is designated as Room Bounding, somehow RAC 2008 was semi-smart about it and it was ignoring them, where RAC 2009, possibly due to the enhancements with the room object, is quite happy in exporting those structure bound faces as well as exponentially increasing the size of the gbXML file.
In order to make previously created RAC models applicable, one should declare all of the structural elements as non Room Bounding and by simply doing this the gbXML output from RAC 2009 will be almost identical to the one from RAC 2008. This will increase the usable room area within the project, but we can all agree that this is the small price to pay for being green, or maybe not?
The only slight difference in the file size will be caused by the changed nomenclature within the 2009 generated XML file that is used for more eloquent description of exported surfaces.You can download both the 2008 and 2009 samples and their corresponding XML files by following this link.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Green Building Studio - Ingenuity Point Winner

Green Building Studio helps designers, architects and contractors build energy-efficient structures with as small a carbon footprint as possible. Its web-based analysis services gives architects and other building industry professionals an intuitive way to take a building design from carbon-positive to carbon-neutral in a matter of minutes versus weeks.
(Read more)

DOE - Launches Website with Energy Saving Tips

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today launched a new internet feature which provides tips to consumers on how to make everyday Earth Day by making smart energy choices to save money while protecting the environment. The interactive web page shows consumers steps to use less energy with household electronics, lighting, and appliances to save on monthly bills and how to avoid wasting energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes and cars.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ecoDriver - reducing your CO2 footprint

ecoDriver suite of products have been specifically developed for companies and institutions who are keen to reduce their utility costs but who are primarily concerned with improving their organisation’s sustainability.

  • Monitor energy & water usage, business travel, etc
  • Alert consumers when consumption exceeds targets
  • Prompt action to reduce consumption
  • Provide feedback on success of action taken
  • Engage employees in sustainability endeavours

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Energy Design Plugin for Google SketchUp

The Energy Design Plugin is a free plugin for the Google SketchUp 3D drawing program. The plugin makes it easy to create and edit the building geometry in your EnergyPlus input files. The plugin also allows you to launch EnergyPlus simulations and view the results without leaving SketchUp.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Review of the development and implementation of IFC compatible BIM

One of the most comprehensive, and the least "cool aid drinking", reviews on implementation and interoperability of BIM complaint platforms in European AEC industry.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Are Highly Efficient Buildings Sustainable?

An intriguing article by Dr. Marsh (Ecotect) in which he juxtaposes the benefits of design versus operational efficiency.
(Read more)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Big Green for Deep Blue

IBM Builds Green Data Center for GIB-Services; Innovative Technology to Heat Local Public Swimming Pool....
(Read more)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Green Buildings in Google Earth

"What are "green buildings"? This KML showcases buildings across the United States that are included in the Department of Energy's High Performance Buildings Database, which features buildings that meet certain energy and environmental performance guidelines. Be sure to click the "View 3D model in Google Earth" link to see a 3D virtual representation of the building."

Monday, March 31, 2008

Revit 2009 - Smart about shading surfaces

The Revit 2009 line of products offers some rather nice improvements in regard to the structure of the gbXML file, as well as in regard to how the geometry is translated into the same.
The first visible improvement starts with Energy Data entry within RAC 2009 Project Information options. The user will have the option to define the ground plane location and project phase as well as the “Sliver” tolerance, which specifies the tolerance for areas that will be considered sliver spaces.
But to me the most interesting one is the ability to specify whether the exported analytical model will contain "Shade" surfacesTypes enumerators or not. If the decision is made to export the model without Shade surfaces, the resulting gbXML file will represent pure space/volume analytical geometry, stripped of any intended or unintended "Shade" surfaces.

In the case that you really don’t care whether the addition of "Shade" surfaces will offset your results, go ahead and turn on the "Shading Surfaces" option, and voila, they are back whether you like them or not. This opens the possibility of manually merging the non "Shading Surfaces" model with only those shading surfaces that are welcome in your analysis, like eaves , overhangs, and various tectonic elements that will impact the insolation loads.
The following workflow describes one possible way of merging both gbXML files by using GBS’s VRML browser and a suitable XML editor like XML Marker.

Export two gbXML files: one with "Shade" surfaces turned off and one with "Shade" Surfaces turned on.
Submit the one with "Shade" surfaces to GBS and look at it in the VRML viewer. Examine the surfaces whose name contains “depx” as part of their description and this will help you identify those that you are willing to keep.

Once those surfaces are identified, in the XML editor open the file containing "Shade" surface, copy the entire surface(s) definition, and paste them by appending those after the last element definition in the gbXML file that does not contain any of the “ShadesurfaceType enumerators. Save the modified file and compare the results.

If you work with a relatively small building these results will not be noticeable, but as the scope increases and the complexity of the structure increases, as well as the need to switch from generic building elements to those that have real world thickness, the difference between these different Shading Surfaces options will become more evident.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Smarter and Greener BIM with ACA 2009

This article might be offensive to those that are fundamentally opposed to the idea of using ACA as a BIM supporting platform, but nevertheless I cannot withhold my enthusiasm for the improvements that have been made with this new and somewhat downplayed release of 2009.

Before I explain the above statement let us for a second focus on the recent publication “BIM Handbook” by Eastman, Teicholz, Sacks and Liston, in which the authors are somewhat specific in outlining the basic minimum requirements that any BIM platform should meet.
According to the authors, the only key point that does not qualify ACA as a BIM tool is presented by this sentence; “Models that allow changes to dimensions in one view that are not automatically reflected in other views”.
To put the above statement into perspective, it might be prudent when discussing BIM to put the emphasis on the information associated with the building process, and on a given platform’s ability to link and mediate access to different information resources, manipulate it in a way that can be, but it does not have to be, object driven and report it in a way that can be either dictated by the future national standard or by a particular project’s requirements.

Personally I have always been drawn to more pragmatic and budget minded interpretations like this one: “BIM is about creating a richer set of project information, about understanding and being able to recall as much of the project as necessary to allow better informed design decision”, Davies 2006.
So what does this have to do with ACA? Well when it comes to information, it is hard to beat this Swiss Army knife of an application, and if Autodesk really thinks that “AutoCAD Architecture is better for architects”, this release will prove this more so than any other in the last 5 years, but to see this one should look behind the scenes, ribbons, endcaps and few other more in your face changes.
With this release think about interoperability, GSA standard project delivery and Carbon Footprint and than take a deep breath of relief, as the ACA team has finally got it.

Let start with the concept of green-washing as it applies to all of those applications whose claims fell short of promises, but not this time and not with ACA 2009.
With ACA 2009 the architect is empowered again as BIM platform has the ability to specify space loads, occupancy, conditions and thermal properties of the envelope. Than one could say so what? What I say! How about being able to deliver this information via gbXML file for analysis in Green Building Studio (recently purchased by Autodesk) or to the upcoming new release of Ecotect. Needless to say, all of it has been accomplished via the clever use of Property Set Definitions, as many of us have been suggesting for quite some time.

Yes, there are other BIM platforms that can deliver this, but then you need to start thinking about a discipline specific platform and another $5000 out of your pocket.
Enough about green: let’s move to BIM standards, and the way the most influential client on the US market defines them. If understanding the minimum BIM compliant project requirements imposed by GSA will ever help you in taking care of your insomnia, go here, but in the meantime the future user of ACA 2009 can peacefully rest knowing that its product has a GSA compliant template with all of the spatial and programmatic classifications built in it.

And, as if this was not enough, the ACA team had to prove how well they can listen and they have linked the object classification and IFC Pset(s) to the IFC Export feature, enabling users to classify ACA objects as IFC compliant classes and associate them with their IFC compliant properties. This means that my Laboratory Casework Library that is made of Doors and Curtain walls can be correctly translated into IFC format and imported and recognized as Furniture with its IFC compliant properties.

Briefly describing these several features does not do any justice to the significance of these quiet changes introduced by the new 2009 release of ACA. In my view it represents a paradigm shift with respect to imaginative handling of objects information and in all honesty extends the shelf life of this platform in ever changing and redefining BIM times. Schematic design in ACA and the related Building Performance Analysis and interoperability are a move in the right direction with the clear goal to award any practitioner that believes in BIM’s well publicized cost/effect curve.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Illinois Tool Works Acquires hsbCAD

"By bringing together Ameri-CAD's VisionREZ software to anchor the architectural front end in combination with hsbCAD's strength in structural modeling, detailing and manufacturing, ITW has created a solid platform that will unite the fragmented residential design market."
(VisonREZ news letter)
This is an exciting news for everyone that regards AutoCAD Architecture as a viable BIM platform. hsbCAD brings an amazing palette of software solutions built on AutoCAD Architecture that will, with no doubt, enrich VisonREZ's path toward an integrated BIM solution.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Greener Photovoltaics

BioSolar, Inc. is developing a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that will reduce the cost per watt of solar cells. Most of the solar industry is focused on photovoltaic efficiency to reduce cost. BioSolar is the first company to introduce a new dimension of cost reduction by replacing petroleum-based plastic solar cell components with durable bio-based components.
(read more)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


The Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) together with the Digital Design Consortium in the School of Architecture and Computer Science at the University of Minnesota will hold the ACADIA 2008 conference in Minneapolis.
(read more)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Energy Plus Plug-In for AutoCAD

EnergyPlugged is an Autodesk AutoCAD plug-in to create and edit EnergyPlus input files. EnergyPlugged was conceived to improve and speed up EnergyPlus model creation without loosing control of it, preserving EnergyPlus' flexibility and allowing errors to be found.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

AutoCAD Architecture 2009 - Green Again!

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.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alternative approach to carbon footprint reduction

UCLA chemists report a major advance in reducing heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Science.
(read more)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Prototype power plant shatters solar record

Sandia National Laboratories and Stirling Energy Systems (SES) set a new solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record by achieving a 31.25% net efficiency rate.
(read more)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ECOTECT - Finally

After almost an entire month of waiting for the updated Ecotect web site, it is finally on line again. Updated tutorials and the latest news on that coveted 5.60 release, are just some of the features that are now accessible through the revamped Square One web site.

BIM – methodology that is redefining the building industry

An interesting article posted in AECbytes, about the role that BIM has and will have on the future of building industry. Prof. Chuck Eastman is one of the coauthors, and he can be, without any exaggeration, regarded as the godfather of building information modeling methodology.
(read more)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Autodesk - Green and Carbon Neutral !!!

It was bound to happen. Another strategic purchase by the well known giant from San Rafael. This time, like some five years ago when another acquisition redefined the software of choice for BIM from ADT to Revit, they are reinventing their commitment to sustainability by another, in my opinion even more revolutionary, move.

Starting today, Autodesk has become a major player in the arena of building performance analysis by acquiring Green Building Studio Inc. , and by doing so the “Factory” can finally stake their claim in green building beyond green marketing.

Green Building Studio, Inc. offers the only web-based solution that provides immediate whole building energy and carbon analysis on any building design scheme. Their product, based on interpretation of gbXML encoded building geometry, allows designers to share information at all stages of design.

If the quality of information contained within most “BIM compliant” datasets ever had to undergo scrutiny of its applicability for delivering better buildings, it would be hard pressed to live up to the hype. Now, the virtual representation of the physical world is one step closer to become a major part of one’s digital building, and the grammar and the vocabulary needed is what Green Building Studio brings to the house of AutoDesk.

When the late Louis Kahn metaphorized architecture as frozen music, he could not have envisioned the decades of CAD/BIM induced white noise. This move by Autodesk represents an enormous opportunity for architects to start composing in harmony with the world around us.

(read more...)

Autodesk Launches New and Improved Solutions for Building Information Modeling

According to the latest press release this year might prove to be the pivotal in the way Autodesk approaches Building Information Modeling in conjunction with Building Performance Analysis ...

Revit Architecture 2009

Increased sustainable design and energy analysis capabilities through easy exchange with partner applications

Improved visualization functionality with the new Mental Ray engine for rendering, improving speed, quality, and usability

Revit MEP 2009

Air handlers, commercial condensing units, packaged rooftop units, and high-efficiency water source heat pumps

(read more)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Green Building Studio and the Biofuel Use CO2 offset

If your Green Building Studio analysis suggests the potential for Biofuel use as one of the solutions for offsetting CO2 footprint, you should definitely reed this article in R&D magazine....

Monday, February 04, 2008

gbXML Project Location and Revit

Location, location, location! These days, even with the real-estate market in peril, this seller’s mantra should still be relevant for anyone that is serious about their energy modeling practice and Revit’s model translation. When exporting your model to a gbXML compliant file, according to the Revit Architecture manual, all you need is the ZIP code and the building type. Well, not quite so as unfortunately, even though the latitude and longitude data is exported to gbXML, it does not relate to the project’s zip code but to the location that is determined via the advanced model graphics settings. And since the DOE 2.2 manual clearly states that hourly loads are the function of a building’s longitude and latitude one should take that extra step of synchronizing the ZIP code and sun location within Revit before translating Revit’s building geometry. Or, we can just hope that in one of the next installments of Revit BIM platforms the sun data and energy data will be automatically synchronized. You can easily verify the inherit discrepancy that is described above by opening the newly created gbXML file and verifying the “Campus” entries of the ZIP code, longitude and latitude.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Silicon nanowires and their potential....

The Nano Photovoltaics team at GE is projecting an 18% efficiency potential for its scalable PV cell, which incorporate silicon nanowires.
(read more)....


The 40-hour laptop? Nanowires give 10-fold boost to battery life.
(read more)...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Algorithmist

This is and excellent resource for everyone whose interests are directed toward the potential use of mathematics in defining an architectural form....