10/21/10

Conceptual Energy Analysis inside Revit (2 of ?)

CEA Workflow 04 - demo - mass zones - option 3

So now that we are all familiar with the basics of Revit’s new Conceptual Energy Analysis tool (CEA for short), let’s talk about the real power here.  That is options.  We all like options, choices, selection.  Nobody likes to be told they have no choice.  What, you didn’t want brussels sprouts for dinner, you don’t like them, tough!

Design Options

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Fortunately, Revit provides you, yes, you, you pork-pie-hat-black-cap-and-round-black-glasses wearing designer you, with options.  Totally, 100% customizable until your little heart’s content, options. 

Design Options have been around in Revit for quite some time now.  However their use is still sometimes steeped in myth and misinformation.  I have been trying to come up with a good analogy to explain the best use of them…so here goes.

Think of a Design Options set as a shot glass (yes a drinking analogy) and your model as your favorite bottle of booze…the liquor is the data in the model.  If your bottle has only one ounce of liquor in it, you could pour that whole ounce into your shot glass.  However, if your bottle is full, you shouldn’t try to pour the whole thing into the shot glass.  It will spill all over the place, make a big mess, you’ll be taunted and teased with jeers like “Dude, major party foul”.  So don’t over-pour!

To put it more directly, when you use Design Options you need to think in terms of data size.  You don’t want to put too much data in your Design Options.  Too much data and/or too many Design Options will significantly impact your model size and performance.  So for example, you could use Design Options to study multiple, whole building massing configurations.  This would be a large portion of model but relatively little data.  At the other end of the spectrum, you could do a study of a couple of rooms, including walls, rooms, equipment, etc.  This would be a smaller portion of the model but a large amount of data.

Okay, now that we have gotten that bit of formality out of the way, let us move on to cooler things.

Design Options for CEA

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So you have a few design ideas.  Say you are designing a tower.  You want to explore some different shapes.  First you make a shape, boring, orthogonal, rectilinear, expected.  The good thing about this shape is that it is your baseline against which you can compare your other shapes.  In your next option, you give the top of your tower a twist, say 10 degrees clockwise about the center axis.  Nice, you’re feeling groovy.  But twisting towers have been done.  So you start to push and pull your edges and you make some canted surfaces.  Awesome, now your feeling so cool, you’re hot!  That’s hot!

Now, you know you need to get real.  You want to see which one is better in terms of potential energy use.  The CEA tool will send to the Green Building Studio (GBS)  “cloud” whichever design option is visible in your non-perspective 3D view.  That’s simple enough right?  Within your default 3D view, you just need to toggle through your various options using Visibility/Graphics and send each one off to GBS via the Analyze Mass Model button.  You don’t even need to wait until the results come back.  You can just keep on firing off options to the GBS cloud.  That’s the beauty and awesome power of the cloud…it can multitask!

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When the results are ready to review, you get a cute, happy little dialog that very politely tells you your results are ready to review.

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This ability to analyze multiple configurations and review their energy data is the true power of this new bell.  To quote Quasimodo, “The bells, the bells, I must ring the bells”.  And so we shall continue with the next post, when we will talk about the analysis results.

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