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Partnering with SketchUp

Posted: June 2, 2010 by , Category:sketchup

I am delighted to be able to talk publically today about how we’ve formally strengthened our partnership with Google SketchUp to further low-energy sustainable building design. This is such important news that I have abandoned my own blog to write this blog for IES. This is great news for us as a company, our customers, and for the global sustainable building design community as a whole!

I believe this partnership will make a considerable difference on the impact of reducing carbon emission, and energy and water consumption throughout the world. Why? Well here are my top three reasons:

– SketchUp dominates the concept/early stages of the building design market worldwide. The decisions taken at the early stages of a new design (or a refurbishment) have a profound impact on the energy, water and carbon usage throughout that building’s lifecycle.
– IES’ new plug-in for SketchUp offers significant new features that give SketchUp users much easier access to all the different levels of IES analysis software from VE-Ware, through VE-Toolkits and VE-Gaia all the way through to VE-Pro. Hence SketchUp user can use our technology to quantify, optimise and verify the performance of proposed sustainable design options, across all stages of the design process and in different levels of detail.
– SketchUp are committing to promote sustainable design by offering IES VE customers an exclusive discount off SketchUp Pro if they download the IES SketchUp plug-in.

In essence IES have made it easier to use SketchUp for sustainable design and Google SketchUp has made a commitment to support IESVE analysis for low-energy design from their packages. This is a massive gesture by a major corporation such as Google and they should be commended for helping promote the sustainable design agenda so openly on a worldwide basis.

Architects’ that we have introduced the IES and SketchUp integration to are already excited. You can read in more detail about how Broadway Malyan has been piloting the use of this here. Ian Walker, head of Environmental Engineering even went so far as to say; “Potentially, I think that this development could be as significant for the building design industry as the introduction of AutoCAD in the late 80’s — it might just be the catalyst to joining up environmental thinking between the architect and engineer. The only successful way to approach sustainable design is through integration across the entire design process.”

Obviously, we are not just focusing on SketchUp as we are also continuing to improve our connections to Autodesk Revit and Graphisoft ArchiCAD as well as our gbXML links with other products, however with SketchUp we have managed to get deeper ‘under the hood’ which has made it much easier to do certain developments.

Furthermore, the IES/SketchUp partnership will greatly assist the many users of Revit, ArchiCAD, MicroStation and others BIM/CAD systems who use SketchUp at the key early stages of the design process before moving to the production phase. Consequently they can ensure their design is as sustainable as possible prior to moving into another package, where more than likely they can still use the IESVE.

To round up, I believe our partnership announcement is good for IES and SketchUp, good for our customers and will make a significant difference to sustainable design throughout the world. Don’t forget that SketchUp and our VE-Ware and VE-SBEM modules are all available for free. Just think of the energy and carbon emission savings being made worldwide with these alone!

I would also like to say a few things about working with the SketchUp guys over the last two years. First it has been a pleasure working with them and anyone that knows the SketchUp team in Boulder, Colorado will agree that they are extremely professional and passionate about what they do; secondly they have been extremely helpful and supportive; and finally they have been one of the ‘easiest’ corporations we have ever dealt with — Wow!

You can read more about the partnership in the official press release.

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Ok, so I am back with some tips and tricks for Google SketchUp! This blog will show you how to import a model from the SU warehouse for use within the VE. Just think of the possibilities. Take any building you like from the warehouse, and within a couple of hours, you could be doing full blown energy assessment, daylight analyses, natural ventilation feasibility studies, even LEED compliance!

So…. how do we  do it?

1. Open SU — bit obvious this one

2. Go to the SU warehouse under the file menu

3. Browse the models or type in your favourite building in the search field

4. Download the model directly into your SU

5. Now, generally these models will come in as components or groups. As you may have noticed, the plug-in does have the facility to recognise groups and components. It can explode them and scan for fully enclosed volumes which can then be considered eligible for any subsequent analysis. However, the majority of models in the warehouse do not have fully enclosed volumes, so when the plug-in scans the components or groups, the rooms will not be found. So… in this case, we need to manually explode the components first, then add in any necessary surfaces to fully enclose the shape, then run the room scan.

6. So, highlight the building, right click and choose explode. Most of the time, this may need to  be done a couple of times and there may  be a ground plane/Google earth map that needs to  be unlocked first too. This will be shown in red so right click and unlock this.

7. Once the building is completely exploded, look for surfaces that need to be added. The ones I have tried are massing models that just need a bottom surface added to fully enclose, but it depends on the complexity of the model.

8. Then, add in any detail you want  in terms of glazing etc that may have not been included and check the opacities of surfaces are correct. Remember the rules for the opacity of the materials –
0%  – hole
1-99% – transparent (for glass)
100% – opaque (for walls or doors)

9. Run the room scan — it should pick up the building as fully enclosed now. Ok, you can now go ahead and start analysing the building using the plugin after you enter the usual information for building type, constructions etc. This of course, as I said, is likely to be a massing model. If you want to start partitioning the space, this can be done in SU or, once you import it into the <VE>, the edit tools can be used to cut the building into floors and partitioned for a more accurate assessment of the building.

Here are a couple of samples of buildings from the Warehouse



SketchUp 7 launched

Posted: November 18, 2008 by , Category:sketchup

Our friends at SketchUp have just launched SketchUp 7 — and the great news is our IES VE plug-in is compatible with this brand new version. Plus our latest version of the plug-in, which can now take SketchUp groups and components in account, is due out later this week.

SketchUp 7 is even more intuitive and includes tools for power users, plus it’s easier to find and share models with the world. Learn more and download at sketchup.google.com or view the great What’s New in SketchUp 7 video below:

Also this Thursday at 12.30 Chris Cronin of SketchUp fame

will be presenting with us at GreenBuild at stand #1447.

What I’d like to do in my blog is provide some basic guidance with some simple hints and tips for taking your sexy SketchUp model one step further and running the likes of detailed energy consumption, Architecture 2030 Challenge benckmarking and LEED daylighting compliance analysis. Now, I’ve had a bit of experience using SketchUp over the last couple of months but not even close to some of you “super users” so please forgive me if some of this is old hat to you. However, and this is the point, there is a difference between the conventional way of drawing a SketchUp model, purely concerning the shell of the building and its aesthetics, and having individual rooms acknowledged for analysis eligibility.

Now, I am going to assume that you already know about the SketchUp plug-in and the room finding icons and so on and so forth (if not, please go to the SketchUp link on this website or go to www.youtube.com/IESVE). All I’d like to do is help you to get your model ready quickly and efficiently to streamline the process of analysing your building design.

Right, let’s cover the basics first, and then we can apply it to something relevant. You may have seen some of this in the literature, but I’ll assume you haven’t.

The first movie clip shows the basics of room creation and how the room finding algorithm finds spaces based on surfaces.


Once the 2nd room is extruded, you will see there is no floor. The fundamental rule for “rooms” to be acknowledged is they must be enclosed volumes. These have no floor, hence no rooms are found.
Drawing a line across the floor will then bound these spaces with the floor and also a partition wall. 2 rooms are found.
I don’t want a partition wall, so I’ll delete the surface. Woops! Only 1 room is found now.

I’ll draw the surface back in by adding a diagonal line to bound it, then delete the diagonal line.

This time, instead of deleting the surface, I’ll make the surface 0% opacity and it will be picked up as a partition, albeit an invisible one, but at least light, heat and air can pass through it. Ah ha! Now I have 2 rooms again.

Ok, so that fundamental rule is that to divide spaces into separate rooms, there must be a surface connecting them, then the levels of opacity will determine whether they are walls, windows, or holes.

0% – hole
1-99% – window
100% – wall

Ok, let’s take that rule and apply it to my design.

1. We shall assume we have the floor plate but no individual spaces. If you want to know what the heating and cooling loads are for each of the rooms, not the whole floor because they have 1. Varying space usage and 2. Different orientations and hence varying solar penetration.

2. One of the spaces is in an open plan office but it’s very large so we want to split the space into perimeter and core, but maintain the space as open plan for solar tracking and heat/air transfer purposes.

3. So the steps shown in the 2nd movie are as follows.


a. Floorplate with no floor, no room found

b. Floor drawn, room found

c. Partition walls drawn to define enclosed office spaces.

d. Core and perimeter spaces drawn

e. Partition walls modified to have 0% opacity therefore in any subsequent analysis, light, heat and air

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can pass through into the adjacent space, but each room is considered its own entity from a load perspective.

The next step will be to run this model through the likes of VE-Ware (our free tool), the VE-Toolkits and modules within the full Virtual Environment. This will allow you to gauge its performance in terms of daylighting, airflow, energy and thermal comfort. And you thought your sexy SketchUp model was just for show eh. Wait ’till my next blog.

Pete M

Model Merge

Posted: September 16, 2008 by , Category:sketchup, Uncategorized

I’ve got a workflow conundrum for you today:

I’m using SketchUp or Revit and I’ve delved into the Full <Virtual Environment> made some changes to the Templates in the Full <Virtual Environment>. I’m happy with the analysis. I now want to go back to the original model in SketchUp or Revit and want to change (for example) some geometrical detail. When I go to set room or building properties I don’t get the detailed choices I get in the <Virtual Environment> so when I get to the <Virtual Environment> I’ll need to start all over and re-apply all the room data, Right??

Luckily No!

There is a feature in the full <Virtual Environment> that’s been around for a few years now called Model Merge. Specifically it’s a feature within ModelIT and allows the merging of IES Template and Room data from a previously saved model.

It’s important to follow the correct steps to avoid heartache so I have produced a flow chart and a worked example of how to approach this. I’ve used SketchUp but the approach is the same in Revit. Attached are the models too. This is a great tool that avoids repetitive input of data!

Workflow Summary:

– Create Model in SketchUp
– Make template changes in <Virtual Environment>
– SAVE AS!!!
– Edit model in SketchUp
– Open in <Virtual Environment>
– Merge Model Data (Apply Original model template data onto New model)
– Continue Analyzing from where you left off





IES Demo Models on Google 3D Warehouse

Posted: August 27, 2008 by , Category:sketchup

Welcome to very exciting times here at IES. Our new link to Google SketchUp, we think, is a real game changer and means there’re no longer any barriers for considering energy performance and the Architecture 2030 Challenge right from the very earliest stages of design.

However, you can read all about the benefits of the plug-in on our new dedicated web section. What I really wanted to point you all in the direction of is the example models that we’ve placed on Google 3D Warehouse. You can use these models to test and learn how to use the SketchUp plug-in. Find them on the Google 3D Warehouse site by searching for IESVE.

We’ve developed these to show good practice for creating SketchUp models for the purpose of analysis, and show examples of different building types and sizes. They demonstrate why enclosed

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volumes, which are required to generate rooms that will be used in the analysis, are so important, and much more…

I would suggest you take the models as a starting point and have a go at varying shape, form, massing, room layout or properties and maybe also try seeing the effect of surrounding buildings or shading devices. Our associated How To… and User Guide should help you along the way. Check out, how we have:

  • used opacity to describe walls and fenestration
  • set building properties
  • located the building
  • set the orientation using (Get View) from Google Earth

Happy Green Building…


To Blog or not to Blog?

Posted: August 22, 2008 by , Category:sketchup

Well the answer is To Blog and therefore welcome to the new IES Blog. I’ve been volunteered by our Marketing Team to write the first entry. No pressure then.

So what can I write about that will wow you? Well, I don’t want to do that.

This Blog will not be about marketing, but about helping an amazing and passionate group of people at IES communicate with you in a different way. I am old enough to remember getting a new communication device called a Facsimile machine. It was fantastic as it was so much better than a Telex, but if you have your own Blog you have probably only seen a Fax in a museum.

What hasn’t changed is my, and the people at IES’ commitment to helping you design buildings that are more energy efficient. I have been working in this field for nearly thirty years and it is great to see our work being used on more and more projects throughout the world. So much so that the accumulated impact of your work with our software has avoided numerous power stations being built.

So IES are not jumping on the ‘green’ bandwagon — we don’t do ‘Greenwash’. We have been innovating at the vanguard of the sustainability movement since we started in 1994 and several of us for many years before that. We have made dramatic changes and we will continue to innovate and work with you to provide tools that help you achieve your sustainability objectives.

This is why I am so excited about our new plug-in to Google SketchUp. There are a vast number of SketchUp users throughout the world that use this fantastic tool at the early stages of the design process but who don’t have access to building analysis software. This reduces the potential for much better sustainable designs as the maximum impact is achieved at the early stages. Now with our plug-in SketchUp users have access to tools that facilitate analysis from the massing model and throughout the design process. This is a massive breakthrough and will revolutionise sustainable design.

I am also extremely excited about the ability this gives for anyone to undertake sustainable design for FREE. SketchUp is free and our VE-Ware is free. So anyone can build a SketchUp model and quickly assess its annual energy consumption and carbon emissions with internationally recognised building thermal simulation tools.

If you don’t already have SketchUp and VE-Ware then install them and try for yourself. You have nothing to lose.




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