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

Happy Energy Saving Week!

Posted : October 22, 2008 by Kaye

Hello, In the UK this week The Energy Savings Trust announced that half of us would be greener if we had a bit more time in our day! To help us with this they have provided us with three useful tools to help us manage our time; The first is an “Energy Saving Clock” which […]

An integrated design process is proving to be the key to achieving high-performance, sustainable buildings. By bringing all of the project stakeholders to the table at the early conceptual stage of the process, the team can set forth with a common set of goals. The result is that sustainable strategies are better coordinated during design […]

Taking it to the Streets

Posted : October 9, 2008 by Nicole

I had the great pleasure of launching what might be best termed a “Green Blitzkrieg” last month as we landed in 9 US and Canadian cities and over 70 design firms from coast to coast. Many thanks to all those who hosted us — we hope you stay tuned via When after I’m you. It […]

International Challenges

Posted : September 30, 2008 by Chien Si

This problem of making a sustainable world is one of the most challenging that the world has ever faced. Although a number of people still actually debate whether CO2 comes from anthropogenic sources, I accept that humans are indeed having an impact. Making the change to a more sustainable built world is going to take […]

Model Merge

Posted : September 16, 2008 by Craig Wheatley

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 […]

Map CO2 Emissions

Posted : September 12, 2008 by Craig Wheatley

Hi there, The FT today posted a map of CO2 emissions on their website. It gives a geographical and US state-by-state snapshot of carbon dioxide emissions and a timeline of major events in climate change negotiations. Really interesting to look at the per capita figures, there are certainly some of us on this earth using […]

The 2030 Blueprint

Posted : September 5, 2008 by admin

I was reading today about the presentation that Ed Mazria gave at the National Clean Energy Summit last month, it was really great to hear him pushing how important reducing a buildings energy consumption is as part of the mix required to create carbon neutral buildings. “We tend to rush toward the complex when trying […]

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 […]

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