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IESVE for Architects – Creating Geometry

Posted: December 20, 2013 by , Category:Architects


In this post we’ll continue in our series of IESVE

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for Architects blogs. So far we’ve looked at ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Site Analysis’, which brings us on nicely to how you go about Creating Geometry within the package.

Firstly, it is important to understand that as well as geometry, simulation programs such as IESVE also require additional data to be assigned to the model. The data needed depends on the analysis function you are undertaking, such as data on location, occupancy, usage patterns, construction materials and HVAC systems.

However, we understand that at early stages you will not have access to all this information. To get round this IES has included pre-populated idealised data templates into the software which you can use at early stages. These enable you to analyse the important design considerations using like-for-like comparisons, rather than trying to make detailed predictions which is something for later design stages. You can set this data in a number of ways; including importing a model from SketchUp or Revit® or building from scratch in the VE.

Modelling in the VE
ModelIT is the VE module used to create geometry with or without AutoCAD data. ModelIT gives you efficient modelling –with fast track functions, easy visual checks and no rebuilding. Get the lowdown on using ModelIT to create geometry from scratch in the IESVE for Architects support material.

Importing from SketchUp
sketchup-model-to-veThe SketchUp plug-in enables the direct translation of geometry into the VE from either the Free or Pro versions. The plug-in offers SketchUp users a range of model building tools designed to make creating ‘best practice’ geometry for performance analysis effortless. It also allows you to quickly assign important data; such as location, building type, construction and HVAC type. Take the step by step guide to using the Sketchup plug-in here.

Importing from Revit®
The Revit plug-in

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enables the direct translation of geometry into the VE from both Revit Architecture and Revit MEP. The plug-in allows Revit users to translate all bounded rooms into a VE compatible format and quickly assign important data; such as location, building type, construction and HVAC type. Use the support material to follow the best practice checklist for translating Revit to the VE.

The SketchUp and Revit plug-ins are included in the trial installation and will appear automatically in the application. If you have not yet started your IESVE for Architects trial then head to our website to start today.

There are a number of import options and integrations on offer when you using the VE. You can read more about them here – www.iesve.com/software/software-interoperability.

This month, we have had loads of questions from you about UK Compliance and the changes with Part L 2010. So we will be focussing on how to use the Virtual Environment to create UK EPCs, if you are outside of the UK, sorry, this one is VERY specific!

As many of you will know by now Part L 2010 came into force in October last year, even though the related EPC section has been delayed until the 27th of March this year. This means that building regulations DER/ TER (both at design and completion stage) will be to Part L 2010, but the EPC calculations will still have to be carried out using Part L 2006 methodologies. You can read more about this here. This has posed an interesting problem for our software team, and as such we have had to come up with an innovative solution.

To make it as easy for you as possible, we have introduced a brand new backward compatibility function that enables you to easily switch, on the same computer, between the 2010 and 2006 IES VE Compliance modules.  This is essential for designers that need to access Part L 2006 software for ‘as built’ or EPC calculations, as it will negate the need to duplicate data input in different software versions.

In order to generate an EPC you will have to have version’s VE 6.1.1 AND VE installed;

If you are a VE-DSM 2010 user click here for download instructions…

If you are a VE-Ware (VE-SBEM) user click here for download instructions…

If you are a SketchUp user click here for download instructions…

Do you have any other burning questions for us for next months Questions and AEC? If so get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, or drop us an email hello at iesve.com.

Join IES at SimBuild 2010

Posted: July 20, 2010 by , Category:Uncategorized

SimBuild 2010 in New York is right around the corner now – August 11-13 – and it’s not a moment too soon. SimBuild is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, building modeling and simulation conferences in the world. It only happens once every two years, so we anxiously look forward to everything that goes on there when it comes around. We also have plenty in store for this event, too.

IES is sponsoring the show, and that gives us the chance to offer some extra training sessions to attendees. We will be holding two workshops prior to the show. Here’s the schedule:

  • August 9 — Intermediate 3D Modeling, Daylighting, Loads Analysis, and HVAC Systems
  • August 10 — Advanced and Building-Integrated Systems Modeling

Both workshops are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including lunch and breaks, and will be held on the NYU campus (exact location TBA).

Timothy Moore, our Senior Consultant for Special Projects, will be on hand to direct the workshops and show you the expanse of things you can do with IES <Virtual Environment> Version 6.1, such as importing from SketchUp and Revit, daylighting simulation and whole-building energy modeling for the LEED/ASHRAE-90.1 Performance Rating Method.

Cost for the workshops is $350 for one session and $600 for both. Registration is open now, but seats are limited, so don’t wait!

We will also have a demo of IES <VE> at the show on August 12 from 10:30-11:45 a.m., and Timothy will be making a presentation at the show as well (details still TBD).

Of course, our activities are just a small slice of all the exciting things going on at SimBuild this year, from all the workshops and presentations to the banquet that closes everything out. For more on all that’s going on, visit here.

It’s shaping up to be a busy week for IES at SimBuild 2010. We hope to see you in New York City!

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.

Comments Comments Off on Partnering with SketchUp

One of the key challenges facing today’s building designers is understanding and tackling how to incorporate sustainable design principles into existing workflows and processes.

A ‘good design is sustainable design’ ethos promoted by quantitative analysis can make a great impact. Architects get quick environmental feedback on design iterations and environmental engineers can input more into the design. Achieving this kind of effective collaboration and cross-discipline understanding, in my opinion is core to achieving truly sustainable, energy-efficient building design.

The advent of BIM (Building Information Modeling), and better integration between analysis and design tools, is helping push this more integrated, information sharing approach to design team working. In particular, the Green Building XML schema, referred to as “gbXML”, was developed to facilitate information transfer from building information models to design/energy performance analysis tools.

We’ve working hard at IES to drive such integration by developing plug-ins that link our tiered suite of analysis tools to Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Google SketchUp so users can build their designs in Revit or SketchUp and then easily translate and analyze  them in an iterative fashion. gbXML was used to streamline the data flow from Revit to the IES <Virtual Environment> in the IES VE Revit Plug-in.

An Integrative Design Process (IDP) is a collaborative approach to building design which places a strong emphasis on cross-team integration throughout the development process in pursuit of a ‘whole building’ holistic design. But where does it start and what does it really mean? How can the range of IES <VE> software tools be used to assist in the design process?

In conventional building design a project develops through a strict and rigid chain of milestones and hand-offs e.g. owner requirements to architect, architect’s concept to structural engineer, structural design to MEP engineer etc.

This conventional process means that key members of the design team are often excluded from the initial planning stage, and with the lack of their expert knowledge and insight the project can progress down the wrong path for a significant period of time before serious underlying problems are identified. This leads to inefficiency; higher capital costs, time delays, over-sized HVAC etc.

With an Integrative Design Process (IDP) all key members of the multi-disciplinary design team are included at the very beginning of the planning stage, from the initial conception of the building itself. In this way all major design decisions can be carefully considered in relation to other disciplines right from the outset. This avoids abortive work resulting from single-minded decisions and increases overall project efficiency.

So where does building performance analysis fit-in?

The IES <VE> platform provides a unique set of analysis tools that allow building performance analysis to be used throughout every stage of the project, from concept to completion. An experienced <VE> engineer becomes an integral member of the IDP team and can really help drive the design to meet aggressive sustainability targets and objectives.

Let’s look at the lifecycle of a typical project and how the <VE> could be used at each stage:


Concept: VE-Ware and VE-Toolkits used with Google SketchUp ‘massing’ models of various design options and iterations to determine performance characteristics: climate metrics, optimum site orientation, daylight feasibility, ballpark energy estimates etc.

Scheme: Findings from Concept analysis used to select the ‘optimum’ design solution which is then progressed to schematic stage. VE-Toolkits and VE-Gaia used to enhance the basic design i.e. optimize; shading, building envelope, daylight, energy etc

Detail: Enhanced model from Scheme design is driven more aggressively with VE-Gaia and VE-Pro to extract further energy savings i.e. optimize; HVAC plant selection (right-sizing), electric lighting dimming control strategy, zone set-back temperatures, boiler/chiller optimum start/stop etc.

Construction: Findings from Detail analysis input to Construction Documentation and the optimized Detail model is then
updated with ‘As-Built’ information. This ensures that the specified design has actually been installed i.e. do pressure test results match the design infiltration rates, are installed plant efficiencies and SFP’s as per the MEP spec, has the glazing data specified(u-value, SC etc.) actually been installed? Comparative VE-Pro analyses conducted to benchmark Design vs As-Built

Commissioning: Findings from Construction comparison used to drive Quality Assurance (QA) checks in order to identify areas that are not installed and performing as per design. Detailed <VE> room loads can be used to assist in production of Commissioning Documentation and for balancing calculations for duct and pipework systems.

Operation: 6months to 1yr after completion recorded BMS readings can be compared against the As-Built Construction model. Comparative analysis is used to determine areas of the building and associated HVAC plant which are not performing as per design. The building FM team continues to monitor BMS vs Model readings, making site changes where necessary to ensure that the building operates at optimum performance.

This example illustrates how the building performance analysis can be used to fully support an Integrative Design Process. By utilizing the unique four-tiered <VE> approach (VE-Ware, VE-Toolkits, VE-Gaia and VE-Pro) there is an analysis tool for every occasion which can be closely aligned with the sustainability objectives of the project in order to realize the maximum potential.

Through the use of the Google SketchUp based conceptual <VE> analysis tools a building’s energy and carbon footprint can be optimized from the initial outset of the project, before it has a chance to progress down a wrong path. By getting involved early more aggressive energy and sustainability targets can be met and realized such as LEED Platinum, Estidama 5-Pearl, BREEAM Outstanding etc

But the use of performance analysis tools at concept stage alone is not enough on to reach these higher objectives. Aggressive targets mean that an aggressive modeling strategy must be used an continued throughout the project from concept to completion. This is the only way of designing buildings that are truly ‘green’ and is the only way of taking the Integrative Design Process to ‘Infinity and Beyond’.

One of the key benefits of IES VE tools is our collaboration with Autodesk, Google and Graphisoft which allows designers and architects to use their BIM/CAD model to start performing analysis at the very early design stage. It can simplify the process of recreating the model from scratch, as you would have had to do in the traditional way.

Through this, many architects are starting to realize that building performance analysis is not only for engineers, and that by working holistically from conceptual stage, the project can achieve much better efficiencies than when analysis is left till later phases of the project.

In traditional building performance modeling, the modeler uses information from drawings, photos, etc. to construct a model within simulation software from scratch. Misinterpreting the information from CAD to building performance model is common, and in some cases important geometry might be missing from the information provided or left out of the model by

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As BIM becomes increasingly popular in the architecture industry and more connections to analysis tools appear and strengthen, architects can start performing analysis on different design options, including climate understanding, building orientation, massing during conceptual stages, and as the design develops, analysis such as daylight assessment, water review, heating/cooling loads, renewable use, etc. IES has a direct plug-in for both Autodesk Revit and Google SketchUp, as well as direct connectivity to Graphisoft ArchiCAD.

One important thing to note is that there are some fundamental differences between an energy model and an architectural model used to generate construction documents. Schema’s such as gbXML (www.gbxml.org) are used to streamline the data flow between BIM platforms and analysis tools, so users should have an understanding of how this works and what will translate, and what will not.

A model that is very heavy in details will affect the computation time of the simulation. One of the things I like to do whenever I start running simulation is to spend 15-30 minutes cleaning up any elements that are not necessary for energy analysis (of course doing a “Save As” on your existing model first). I know a lot of architects are probably saying if we have a direct plug-in, why do I want to waste all this time cleaning up the model? Isn’t that the reason why we want to use the plug-in?

Spending a little extra time cleaning up a model before running a simulation, will reduce the file size and run time; if you are doing a few simulations it’s definitely worth the time. The IES VE will still run the simulation if you don’t clean up the model, but it will go through every element within it trying to figure out what needs to be included and what doesn’t, which can take a lot of time. Plus, the more detail you have in the model, the more risk of inaccuracy during translation. If you want to understand more about model translation, visit our website for whitepapers on both SketchUp and Revit to IES: http://www.iesve.com/Learning/IES-Whitepapers

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

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