Exploring Lighting and Energy Analysis Tools for Revit Part 2

November 21, 2019 IMAGINiT Technologies

This blog is the second of a series discussing the energy analysis options currently available in Revit.

Setting up Revit for Energy Analysis in Early Design Phases

The Insight Energy Analysis tool built into the Revit interface (Analyze Tab>Energy Optimization Panel and Insight Panel) exists so Architects can make better decisions earlier in the design process.

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The graph shows the cost of change vs. the architect’s ability to effect change as the project progresses. Clearly, the architect can make the greatest impact earlier in the design program by taking the metaphorical bull by the horns, and drive the project to meet the Architecture 2030 Challenge.

The Insight toolset (once downloaded from here: https://insight.autodesk.com/oneenergy) was created as an easy to use design tool for architects. In the past, doing energy analysis required a large breadth of knowledge, not to mention reams of data, to do anything beyond the effects of adding a shading device on the south side of the building. Using the Insight tools, we're going to show you how easy it is to do a quick analysis.

Step 1: Location, Location, Location!!

The first step is the location of the project. And a nearby weather station (conveniently shown in the same image as your project’s location.) Check the weather data by clicking on the weather icon. The nearest station might not be the best for your situation do to microclimate conditions. For instance, I know that my site shown below (Red house pin) has a similar climate condition to a weather station farther away. The weather station to the Northeast is farther away and more correct than the station shown (dotted arrow) to the Southeast.

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Knowing your site is key, and as a design professional it is assumed you are optimizing and mitigating unique site conditions for your project.
After setting your location, orient your Site view to reflect the project’s True North as opposed to Project North orientation.

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Step 2: Consume your Mass Quantitatively

Set up your base levels (proposed floor to floor heights) first and then create a conceptual Mass element by way of the Massing and Site tab. Once you have created a quick schematic of the building envelope, use the Mass Floor tool to cut floors at each level.

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Cutting Mass Floors is a critical step for doing a preliminary energy model. The levels are used by Insight to evaluate the basic energy needs of the proposed project’s occupied spaces*

The Schematic Types options lets the user define a building type and choose the defaults for analytical construction.

As an exercise, create a simple mass model to test the results. To get started with Insight (from my last blog) you only need a few things in the model:

1. Levels – Defining your floor to floor heights
2. Location: Set your project’s location under the Revit Manage Tab.
3. Create a simple mass shape using Revit’s massing tools.
4. Create mass floors.

Step 3: Generate your Energy Model

From here you can get instant feedback on your design. To analyze your mass model, the next step is navigating to the Analyze tab in Revit and click on Generate Energy Model. By default, the Generate Energy Model will use the standard settings under Energy Settings.

You will receive a message as shown below. Click on Create Energy Analytical Model to continue. Once finished, you will have a new view under 3D views in the Revit Browser called “Energy Model” and your model will appear as shown below, right.

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You will notice that there are now skylights and window openings generated from the mass model. The settings that are driving this can be found under Energy Settings. For instance, in the settings below you can see that the analytical model is review Conceptual Masses and Building Elements.

If you select the edit button you will have additional options for window and skylight percentages as well as a simple shade device. I suggest exploring these settings to enhance your understanding of how the model is generated and the underlying assumptions.

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Step 4: Generate your Insights

The final step to review your results in the Insight Web Portal by selecting the Optimize button on the Energy Optimization Panel. This will automatically upload the model to the Insight Web Portal and start generating your options. You will get an email from Insight when your model is ready to review. The Insight web portal has been set up for ease of use. However, I will discuss the various settings and options next time.

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