Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Autodesk Insight 360 - Walls; Part 6

In the first two posts on Insight and walls, we looked at how conceptual and schematic wall constructs are applied when mass elements and Revit's wall elements are used. Those  posts can be found here:
In this post I want to highlight how Revit's materials can be used to define the thermal properties of a wall's construction.

In the Energy Settings > Other Options dialog, checking Detailed Elements tells Revit to use the thermal properties associated with each material used in the wall assemble.

Notice, the default Revit materials have a Thermal asset associated with them as seen in the image below. Also notice, the combined total of the wall assembly, based on thermal properties and the thickness of each layer, is listed in the Edit Assembly dialog. In this example, the selected wall type has an R value of about 32.

Before creating the EAM, as a test, I made sure and set the Schematic Types wall construction to an uninsulated wall, and no override in the Schematic Types section. This way we know the value within Insight is coming from the Material's thermal properties.

Below is a slightly more detailed model I used for this example.

This is what the EAM looks like. The jagged lines represent the thermal zoning... if you look closely you will see there is a below and above the ceiling. The EAM understands a space is not occupied when it's height is less than a specific value (5'-0" I think).

For the first example, I changed the thickness of the walls Rigid Insulation layer to 1" (it was 3"). When compared to the previous Edit Assembly image, notice the R value has changed from 32 to 23.

When pushed out to Insight we see the BIM Setting is properly positioned in the R-23 vicinity.

Back in Revit, I changed the Rigid Insulation thickness to a rather unusual 8", per the image below, which equates to R-53, to see what that looks like in Insight.

In this case, the BIM Setting is all the way to the right, which is to the right of the R-38 input.

I am told there are some limits to the rage for inputs when using materials to define a wall's thermal resistance, and in some cases the run will fail and send you an email explaining as much.

Earlier, I mentioned the EAM is tracking occupiable and unoccupiable spaces within the building. When an EAM is first created, Revit also creates an Analytical Spaces schedule as seen in the final image of this post. When your Revit model has Rooms/Spaces, their names and numbers are also listed with each sapce. In this case, the rows lacking this information are the plenum spaces (or mechanical shafs, plumbging spaces, etc.).
  • FYI: due to these extra spaces, the total area listed would not match the building area.

Revit 2018.0.1 Hot Fix and 2017.2.1 Update

Hot off the press, the Autodesk Desktop App lists a Hot Fix for Revit 2018 and an Update for Revit 2017 as seen in the image below.

Here is a previous post about updates: Looks like the Autodesk link has not been updated yet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Autodesk Insight 360 - Walls; Part 5

In the post we will explore the way Window to Wall Ratio (WWR) is derived when both Revit walls and mass elements define the Energy Analysis Model (EAM). In the previous two ports we looked at each separately.

The image below shows the model used in today's post. The same model with walls from the previous post along with the a mass element added to represent an addition.
Building elements with a mass added to represent an addition

To use both Revit elements and masses in the EAM the Energy Settings dialog must be accordingly as shown in the image below.

Tell Revit to use masses and building elements to create the EAM

Also in the Energy Settings dialog, the WWR can be set. This only applies to the mass element.

Seeing WWR for mass elements
The image below is the EAM as seen in Revit. The walls and windows are explicitly defined by the Revit elements, while the mass element has 40% glazing applied to the three exterior sided.

  • FYI: of course the mass element does not know how there will be a parapet so the wall area and WWR are off a little.

EAM in Revit

When pushed out to Insight 360 we see the BIM Setting matches what we saw back in Revit.

Results as seen in Insight 360

In addition to what was defined within Revit, Insight allows the overall WWR to be adjusted for each N/E/S/W face. Simply adjust the sliders to define a range until you are more confident in a specific value. While defining a rage, the Cost/EUI listed is the mean value.

One final note... as a test to see if I could, this entire post was created from my iPad. Everything, except the screen captures. I added the mass element in Revit, created the EAM and used Insight 360 all on the iPad.

The EAM in Revit shown on an iPad

Monday, April 24, 2017

Autodesk Insight 360 - Walls; Part 4

In this installment we will continue to look at how Revit determines the Window to Wall Ratio (WWR) when creating the Energy Analysis Model (EAM) and how that relates to the BIM Setting in Insight 360.

Using the same super simple model from the previous posts, I added three 6 foot square windows as seen in the image below. Notice the east and west facing walls have no windows. Additionally, the north face (not the clothing products) is represented by two separate wall elements.

Here is a quick 3D view with the windows on the south facing wall.

When the EAM is created, we see the modeled windows are now what is represented (compared to analytical windows added to the mass geometry in the previous post). The image below shows a window selected. Notice it is listed as an Operable Window here, whereas the window for the mass element was a Fixed Window. For Revit elements (i.e. Walls, Windows, Curtain wall) a Window family is always listed as an Operable Window and a Curtain Wall is listed as a Fixed Window. I am not sure this makes any difference once in Insight (If I find out I will update this post).

With the EAM pushed out to Insight, we see the BIM Setting (triangle symbol) for the Eastern Walls shows a 0% WWR as we would expect based on the Revit model shown above.

The Southern Walls cost range shows a BIM Setting of 18% which is correct (333sf of wall and 72sf of window), and this calculation does not include the parapet. Awesome.

Finally, the WWR for the Northern Walls is the sum total of both walls and the single window. Hovering the cursor over the BIM Setting lists the actual value.

That's all for today... the next post will cover WWR for a mix of Revit walls and Mass elements. Stay tuned for that...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Autodesk Insight 360 - Walls; Part 3

In the previous two posts on Insight 360 and walls, we looked at how conceptual and schematic wall constructs are applied when mass elements and Revit's wall elements are used. Those  posts can be found here:
In this post I want to highlight how Revit determines the Window to Wall Ratio (WWR). Early on in a project this value does not matter on the Revit side, as there is a dynamic input for WWR for each face (N,E,S,W) of the building. Thus, this input can be changed within Insight irrespective of the Revit model and it's settings.

First, let's see how we define WWR when using mass elements. I am using the same mass model from the "Part 1" post. In case it was not clear in that first post, the entire building is represented by a single mass element. That is interesting when you consider the Energy Analysis Model (EAM) resulted in separate vertical walls in the same plane; Exterior Walls and Underground Walls due to the Ground Plane setting in the Energy Settings dialog.

If we want to set a baseline value of 40% (per ASHRAE 90.1) we can do so in the Advanced Energy Settings dialog. Notice the related Target Sill Height and Glazing is Shaded options.

When the EAM is created, we see the analytical windows are added. In this selected example, the window is 201sf and the remaining above-grade wall is 302sf - thus, 40% of the wall is window. None of the below grade wall is considered in this equation.

When this EAM is pushed out to Insight 360, we see the BIM Setting for the four WWRs is 40%.

  • TIP: Notice how the BIM Setting always aligns with zero on the vertical scale.

The great thing about Insight 360 is we can dynamically adjust the WWR without needing to go back into Revit and make changes. In the image below, the Western WWR was adjusted to be 95%, which resulted in the Energy Cost Mean changing from $2.13 (sf/yr)  to a less efficient $2.25 (sf/yr).

  • FYI: The $2.13 value was based on a WWR range between 0% and 95%, and the $2.25 is based on a single input of 95%.

Quick closing tip... if you prefer EUI (kBth/sf/yr) over Cost (dollars/sf/yr), simply click on the circle in the upper left corner.

I have a few more posts in mind related to walls, so please stay tuned...

Friday, April 21, 2017

ElumTools Presentation today for the University of Northern Iowa

I am excited to be doing a presentation on lighting analysis for Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi's Interior Design students today at the University of Northern Iowa! I will be presenting remotely from home.

The Building Systems and Lighting class will learn how ElumTools can be used within Autodesk Revit to derive point-by-point illuminance calculations. This involves properly developed lighting fixture families, surface reflectances defined by Revit's materials or overridden by ElumTools and properly enclosed spaces.

ElumTools Ribbon tab in Revit

  • Note to self, resist clicking the Update button just before a presentation!

As I mentioned in a previous post, BILT 2017 Speaking Engagements, I will be doing a class in Toronto just on lighting fixture families later this year. Today, I will mainly be talking about the generic content provided with ElumTools.

My Interior Design for Autodesk Revit 2017 book has an appendix covering the use of ElumTools. The developers, Lighting Analysts, Inc., offer students free access to ElumTools. This must be requested by an instructor.

Having some specialized experience like this is great on a resume and in a portfolio! At a recent IES meeting I met a graduate from the University of Minnesota's Interior Design program who is exclusively doing lighting design at a large firm in Minneapolis.

Fun stuff!

Autodesk Insight 360 - Walls; Part 2

Following yesterday's discussion, Autodesk Insight 360 - Walls; Part 1, on how Revit determines analytical walls from mass elements, I will now shift our attention from mass elements to wall elements.

As seen in the first image below, I created the same "award-wining design" in this post, based on the massing in the previous installment, Notice that this more developed design has parapets, which are defined by a single wall extending from Level 1 up a certain distance above the roof plane.

Revit model created with wall, floor and a roof elements.
When the Energy Analytical Model (EAM) is created in Revit, we see similar results when compared to the previous massing exercise. We have Exterior Walls and Underground Walls.

Exterior Walls element selected in the EAM

Underground Walls element selected in the EAM
If you are paying close attention and comparing the wall area numbers with the previous post you may have noticed the area for the same exterior wall is not quite the same. The reason is that the parapets are automatically omitted from the "exterior walls" equation. The image below shows the EAM has converted the parapet walls to Shade surfaces. This is perfect!

  • It is not as accurate to simply take the literal wall, floor and roof areas and plug them into an equation.

Shading element selected in the EAM
BTW, we can control the visibility of the various parts of the EAM from the Visibility/Graphics Overrides dialog as seen in the image below. This is what I did to create the the images above.

Visibility/Graphics Override dialog for 3D Energy Model view
Once we push this "Revit Elements" based model to Insight we understand this more detailed design iteration results in a more accurate Cost/EUI. It is interesting to see that the super simple thermally zoned mass analysis,from the previous post, offered reasonable close preliminary information.

Walls-based model and Mass-based model in Insight
Setting the Mass Exterior Wall construction to uninsulated also applies to Revit's wall elements. This may be a little confusing since the word "Mass" is in the name of the parameter you are adjusting. When pushed out to Insight, we see the "BIM Setting" is properly positioned at uninsulated for the Wall Construction input.

Insight 'BIM setting' aligns with Revit setting

Like yesterday, I went in and applied an override in the Schematic Types dialog (within the Energy Settings dialog) and selected an R38 construction. When we subsequently push a model to Insight there is something important to understand... the EAM is totally static geometrically and in terms of information. So, if we don't delete and recreate the EAM this new change would not influence the analysis.

When pushing the model to Insight, we are conveniently prompted to automatically recreate the EAM as shown in the image below. However, I think it is best to do it manually and visually inspect it for any irregularities; for example, someone decided to model all the wall types just outside the building.

Insight export prompt within Revit
After deleting and recreating the EAM we get the expected results in Insight!

Insight 'BIM setting' aligns with revised Revit setting
This workflow represents a simple yet powerful opportunity to enhance the performance of most any project being developed in Revit. Like any tool, taking the time to understand it's various parts is key to getting accurate results. Continuing the focus on walls, in future posts, I will talk about using Revit materials to define the thermal properties in a wall, and then another post will look at some things to keep in mind when it comes to Window to Wall Ratio (WWR). So stay tuned for more...