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BIM4Analysis – Frequently Asked Questions

Posted: June 28, 2016 by , Category:BIM

In January 2016, the IES team, alongside special guest speaker Jean Carriere of Trailloop, hosted another instalment of our popular IES Faculty BIM webinar series. The event provided an update on our BIM4Analysis strategy and interoperability development work.

Based on participant feedback from the event, we compiled the following list of FAQs which have been answered by our experts. You can also access the full FAQ document here.

Q: Is a full version of Revit necessary or just a viewer will do to perform exporting of the gbxml?
A full version of Revit would be required as it generates the gbXML from the geometry within the software. A viewer would not have this capability.

Q: Do you often come across examples that the architect is not willing to change their workflows to create the Revit file according to your workflow? Any thoughts on how to educate the architect to set up the Revit file to accommodate this process? A big part of this process is ensuring the initial Revit model is created with energy modelling in mind and my experience says changing the Revit file, if it is not done right, usually takes the modeller more time to clean up than starting from scratch…
A number of years ago this was very much the case, but the business benefits and time saving identified by a collaborative BIM process have made/should make it a no brainer for teams to collaborate to make it work. For an architect the process of building a Revit model to export a clean gbXML is much easier as it requires much less detail. We’ve included links below to some related resources that we hope are helpful.

We are in the process of creating a new basic modelling video which will be available soon on our YouTube channel.

Q: How do you prevent the analytical wall from trying to resolve against the architectural wall in Revit?
This can be performed with Revit MEP. Just head to our BIM Integration Features (IES BIM Faculty) video, fast forward to 9 minutes 30 seconds into the video and follow the steps.

Q: There was an element shown as an obstruction in the import, is this normal?
Yes, if you have set up your Revit model to allow for overhangs etc. this would be normal.

Q: I have noted that the plug-in is only available for v2015 Revit. Is a 2016 version on the way?
The Revit plug-in is automatically installed with all IESVE software installations. The 2016 version is available with our current release which you can download here. If there is ever no plugin you can always use the Revit export function from the file menu within Revit.

Q: Do you think it is best to setup customised space templates rather than use built in Revit functionality?
If you are referring to space templates within the VE, there are benefits to both processes. The trick is to identify the best process for your organisation and the way that you want to work.

Q: If you create one wall that overlays with another wall in Revit, they try to resolve against each other. How does Jean’s process deal with this?
You would need to choose one of these to be the primary room bounding element so as to avoid any conflict in the gbXML that Revit creates.

Q: Presumably all geometry modifications, such as BCO zoning, need to be done in the Revit model to maintain consistency in terms of room names and numbers?
Yes, it would make it easier from a consistency point of view as the room names are the key to synchronising data between the different models. In saying that it is not essential as you can make changes in the VE, but just be aware that you have varying room names. In addition, consideration to the number of differences that you make between the two models has to be assessed before you make any modifications.

Q: As an architect interested in transferring a clean model over to the virtual energy modelling environment, what are the basic tools that I need to be convinced the translation has occurred successfully? Is the Revit IES VE plug-in alone enough? I do not necessarily want to purchase a full version of the IES VE software but want to do my part to support a very smooth process.
You can use our free plugin and use that to load up the VE for free and check models. You can also check models within Revit before you export using its gbXML export dialogue. No need to purchase anything.

Q: Can IES update official guidance on interoperability as last guide was issued over 1 year ago.
Yes, this is in progress. We’ll be in touch as soon as the updated guidance is available.

Q: Another software provider has claimed IES do not comply with the full BIM Level 2 requirement by not forming a closed loop between energy analysis and re-working the design (i.e. architects model). Is there any justification to that claim?
No, there are processes and tools within the VE software that will help you to achieve this. IES VE software is one of few platforms that allows you to utilise data throughout the full lifecycle of an asset, not just in the design, but right through into operation, from one source.

We are also working to providing videos of this so keep checking back to our YouTube channel.

Q: Can you show us how to import properly from Revit to IES VE?
We have online videos on our YouTube channel as well as live e-training sessions we offer that take you through how to import from Revit to the VE. If you need any further assistance please contact our support team.

Q: Is BIM to BEM a good option? If yes, what is the effective way to do it?
Yes, just follow the guidance in our BIM + Building Performance Analysis White Paper to keep it simple. Contact us if you’d like us to provide a demonstration of this.

If you missed it, you can catch up on our latest BIM Faculty session and previous seminars on the IESVE You Tube channel. Further information can also be found on our BIM4Analysis page.


Sustainable Places Conference
One of the greatest challenges that our societies have ever faced is how to drive energy efficiency at the building, district and city level. Sustainable Places is an International Conference held each year across Europe to gather scientists, researchers, and engineers, from both academia and industry to discuss the latest state-of-the-art advances in this area.

This year, its being held in Anglet, France and IES is involved in a big results workshop for FASUDIR, as well as presenting on work currently in progress on the iURBAN and NewTrend projects. While other projects RESSEEPE and Energy in Time are also hosting in-depth workshops.

The show aims to facilitate innovative solutions for renovation and new construction to ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of ever-growing, densifying urban areas, in a resource-constrained world. Information and Communications Technology (ICT), along with other key research domains (energy, materials, methods and practices, etc.) will be at the core of the conference.

Join us at the show if you’re heading along, or catch up with our post show blog.

FASUDIR Results Workshop
Thursday 30th June, 9am-12.30pm, Nick Purshouse

FASUDIR Linked Workshop/Paper: Historic Cities in Transition
Wednesday 29th June, 4.30-6.30pm

iUrban Paper Presentation
Thursday 30th June, 9am, Mike Oats

NewTrend Presentation: District Renewal Workshop
Wednesday 29th June, 11am-4pm Nick Purshouse

RESSEEPE Workshop: Public Building Retrofitting
Wednesday 29th June, 2-4pm

RESSEEPE Paper Presentation
“Innovative technologies for retrofitting: Coventry University as a Living Lab”
Wednesday 29th June 4.30pm

Energy in Time Workshop: Building Operations & Maintenance
Thursday 30th June, 9am-12.30pm

Energy vs Cost Modelling

I recently conducted an energy survey at a new healthcare facility and a couple of headline numbers jumped out which I thought could do with some further investigation and validation. So the focus of this Post is specifically around the application of Energy vs Cost Modelling within the Building Performance Analysis industry.

So here are the facts:

  • The building in question is a rural UK healthcare facility
  • Estimated annual electricity spend of £40k
  • Approximately the same spend again on Gas – so another £40k
  • £20k allowance for miscellaneous utilities; standing charges, peak charges, water etc
  • So an approximate annual utility spend of £100k max.

The story sounds ok so far until you consider the total Project Value, a £29-million design/build cost. If we do some very basic lifecycle cost modelling the numbers look like this:

  • £100k per year utility spend
  • After 10-yrs cumulative utility spend of £1-million
  • After 30-yrs cumulative utility spend of £3-million

[Note: No Utility Rate increases, NPV or Discount Rate allowances made in this basic calculation]

As the calculations stand this facility would therefore take 30-years to have a cumulative energy spend of £3-million.

Let’s say that 20% energy savings could be made fairly easily via a £20k energy efficiency spend and that a 1-year ROI would be achievable. So a £20k up front spend on energy efficiency measures generates £20k worth of savings by the end of the first year. Assuming this £20k reduction could be maintained for the remaining 29-years a cumulative saving of £580,000 could be made over the 30-year range.

A 20% saving is a 20% saving and who wouldn’t want an extra £580k in their annual budget, but is it really worth waiting 29-years for?! It seems like such a long time to wait.

Now if we look at the £580k from the total Project Value perspective (£29-million) it’s works out as only 2%.

So here’s the point. If 2% could be shaved off the total Project Value up-front at Design/Build stage the £580k saving becomes money up front, cashed in the bank from Year Zero – money that doesn’t need a 29-year wait to get back in hand. To me this sounds like a better deal for any building Owner/Operator?

If we look at this from the Building Performance Modelling perspective it gets interesting. We spend fees on Energy Modelling and associated analysis for Green Building Certification schemes (BREEAM, LEED etc) but do we really use these intelligent 3D models to their full potential from a Cost modelling perspective?

Surely with the BIM analysis models that are being developed for purposes of Building Performance Analysis (Energy, Daylight, Natural Ventilation, Overheating studies etc) it’s an easy transition to further develop these models as accurate Cost models? In this way more time and resource could be used on predictive modelling of Cost based scenarios? We’re all well versed in scenario based energy modelling (e.g. multiple changes to a wall U-values, HVAC plant efficiencies etc) and we can predict the resulting % energy savings such measures will have against a baseline figure, but do we really consider these ‘energy’ measures from a Cost perspective?

I will continue on this same theme in a future Post but am interested to hear the industry feedback on this to date. How many Building Performance Analysis teams out there are actively involved in BIM based Cost modelling on a day-to-day basis? Where do you get the data for the Cost models? Is there more that the ‘modelling’ industry can do to populate better Cost models – or is it simply a bridge too far with insufficient Cost datasets currently available? Is a dedicated Project Quantity Surveyor needed for a detailed Cost analysis or can the modelling industry do more to support early stage scenario based Cost modelling of this nature?

Got some feedback that you’d like to share with Mark? Click here to comment on the original post on LinkedIn or click here to email Mark.


Ever wondered what a Technical Analyst does? Well wonder no more! For this blog post we went behind the scenes to meet with Birthe Klebow, a member of our Software Development team to find out more about her role, what she loves about it and what advice she would give to other women entering a profession in a largely male dominated industry…

What attracted you to working in Software Development, particularly for IES?
I enjoy challenging myself to find elegant solutions for complicated problems. Working in software development gives me the opportunity to think outside the box and explore ‘uncharted waters’ every day. It is a great privilege to work with a company whose vision I fully support: the development of more sustainable buildings and cities by exploiting the potential of dynamic simulation. Working as a member of an expert team in IES, I actively shape and enhance the company’s market leading software products.

What does your role at IES involve?
As a technical analyst I bridge the gap between our product managers, external project partners and our software developers. My role is to understand user / project requirements and research, envision and formulate concepts for innovative solutions meeting their needs. I finally create software specifications which serve as the foundation for the development of the final products.

What project are you currently working on?
I am the technical lead for two European Horizon 2020 research projects which are both coordinated by IES. They are called NewTREND and IMPRESS. Together with research and industry partners from ten different countries, we are developing software solutions for Building Information Modelling (BIM) supported building energy retrofit. The goal is to help significantly reduce energy consumption in existing buildings and make building energy retrofit projects more accessible, effective, efficient and affordable.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I highly value the impact my work has, not only in terms of the enhancement of existing products, but also with respect to influencing the future direction of the company by designing new and innovative software tools which IES is well known for. I appreciate the variety of my work and enjoy being challenged every day. Day-to-day interaction with international project partners and participation in conferences allow me to stay up-to date with recent university research and the latest trends in technology.

What do you enjoy most about working at IES?
A definitive highlight is the great working atmosphere we have in our Glasgow headquarters. It’s a pleasure to work with highly motivated and skilled people in multi-disciplinary international teams.

What contribution to IES are you most proud of?
Shortly after I joined IES, I took over the internal technical lead of the European research project Energy in Time. Within the frame of this project, our team have been developing calibrated building energy models for real-time building performance optimisation. We are now getting to the final stages of the project and its very satisfying to see that the project has emerged from a very ambitious and challenging proposal to a solid final solution.

What advice would you give to anyone entering your profession?
As an analyst, it is essential that you are a good listener and know how to put yourself into your customers’ shoes: only when you understand their real needs, you can design products making people happy!

Building engineering/physics/software development is very much a male dominated industry. What do you think would encourage more women into these industries?
I think we are still lacking a rich portfolio of attractive career profiles for these industries. Successful women serving as role models are probably one of the best motivations for young women to follow similar career paths.

As a female role-model what advice would you give to other women considering a career in this industry?
I think the best advice I could give women in this situation would be to follow their interests, be self-confident and trust their own abilities.

Interested in a career with a highly innovative company that offers a flexible and supportive working environment and the opportunity to work with a team of friendly, interesting and diverse people from across the globe? Keep an eye on the careers section of our website for upcoming positions or feel free to send your CV over to careers@iesve.com. You can also follow @IESCareers on twitter.


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