Don’t create, reuse!
In my first job as building performance analyst, I was asked on my first day to create a Building Energy Model (BEM) for an attached housing project. In Norway, the industry uses the software Simien (https://simien.no/produkt/) to perform energy analysis of buildings. Simien is a very convenient and easy to adopt software, however I felt very frustrated as there was no way for me to conveniently input the complex geometrical information straight from the architect’s model. Being already at the time a skilled Grasshopper user, I thought this information take-off could be automated.
The information already exist in the BIM model, why then do I have to spend time manually transferring it from one place to another?
Automation would allow me to save time, reduce risk and avoid errors, spend more time with the energy analysis itself, and more time discussing optimisation with the architects.
Less frustration too of course, which is quite important. After all, automation could allow for more projects to be evaluated, I would develop my expertise at a higher pace, which simply means a win-win-win (my team, the project, the client).
Use the right tool for the right job
So to avoid using a .pdf reader, Solibri, Excel and other tools to measure and document a project, I tried different methods like connecting Archicad to Grasshopper with their live connection, scripting my way to an .xml export. Stian later on helped me figure things out and… it could work on some projects, more or less, but nothing that could actually be trusted or used by anyone else. Archicad updates, unreliable BIM models (not thought to be used as BEM at all), script dependencies and limitations… Grasshopper is great for prototyping, definitely not for reliable, scalable solutions.
This ended not helping me at all, until…
A game changer
With Spacio our mission is to facilitate decision making with intelligent design tools. Performing energy analysis in Spacio is therefore a must.
Very early we took contact with Simenergi, who develops Simien (https://simenergi.no/ , on the picture, Stian Haugrim from DataTrees and Folke Pettersen from Simenergi) and they were thrilled to see young visionaries being willing to take the challenge to create a .ifc to .xml Simien converter. Aware of the bottleneck, having many clients requesting this capabilities, we started a collaboration. The goal, allowing for 3D models to be imported to Simien:
- imported from .ifc,
- or freshly designed in Spacio, with our tools and own ecosystem.
As a platform leveraging interoperability, we needed an .ifc import in Spacio anyway, so it wasn’t difficult to commit to that challenge. And since Spacio represents buildings as data trees, it is fairly easy for us to export for energy simulations, since a BEM model is nothing but clear relationships between spaces and their components.
The graph representation of buildings in Spacio is the perfect foundation for Building Energy Models.
The 3D environment of Spacio and its flexible ecosystem of tools is the long awaited solution to my old problem. My younger self smiles, happy to share this experience with the right people.
Months of development have now past. We are releasing this month the first access to Spacio, for energy consultants / Simien users (be a bit more patient architects! soon it is your turn 😃)
Now, any Simien users can streamline their workflow and give their expertise and help projects faster for a more iterative process, with less risks, and in a user-friendly way. For better buildings, for a better future.
For a better user experience, we are now thinking how Spacio and Simien could be fully integrated, so results could be accessed by Spacio and be displayed with various heat maps in 3D. This way, design teams could communicate more clearly and energy analysis results could be coupled with other tools of the ecosystem, such as Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
Step by step, we are coding our way to a revolutionary platform, in collaborations with amazing people being the best at what they do.
Are you a Simien user interested in this solution? Take contact with me! We are also looking at giving away free licenses for education purposes.
Until my next blog post, let’s support building design!