Sunday, November 23, 2008

Understanding Virtual Enviornment

IES Virtual Environment is a comprehensive energy modeling and environmental analysis tool which can simulate just about everything happening to your building. Past use of Virtual Environment existed mostly outside of the architects' realm, however IES has done much recently to integrate their tools into the architectural process with push-button toolkits.

The strength of the toolkit is that it can be embedded into architectural design programs (Revit & Sketchup so far) and with a modified workflow one is capable of achieving truly integrated and iterative analysis.

The toolkit performs a series of independent analysis which makes it less comprehensive than the full Virtual Environment. The full suite contains an array of modules, each performing different tasks that are capable of feeding back into the main energy model. For example, if your project will utilize daylight harvesting you would first run daylight simulations and then link these results back into the thermal simulation module where you can see the energy impact from reduced cooling loads and electricity use. The process is similar for natural ventilation and solar shading analysis where separate modules link their results to the main thermal simulation engine. Even HVAC systems design can feed into the central energy model for collaborative A/E BIM analysis in a central model.

It is not immediately apparent where Virtual Environment falls in the traditional A/E firm structure and project workflow. What is apparent is that the ultimate success of its use requires a process shift in either the way the architect designs and delivers, or in the roles assigned to the mechanical and energy engineers (US in particular). Either way there must be time, budget, and client expectations to ensure that this level of collaboration succeeds.


Shrimant said...


I just came across this blog doing some random surfing. Have you heard anything about IES' support for BIM platforms other than Revit?

Heath said...
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Jon Gardzelewski said...

IES has been approached by other software developers, but you can imagine that they have their hands full doing one thing at a time.

This is why interoperability is so important. Every BIM authoring tool can't develop separate plugins for every analysis program. Standardization of exchange requirements (import/export language) is crucial for mass adoption and industry success. You should soon see both the IFC and XML schema developing standards for energy analysis, quantity takeoffs and more. Hopefully all software developers get behind these efforts.

SimCosm said...

As far as I know, you can directly import data from SketchUp, Revit, ArchiCad. IFC via Revit. Rhino, Bentley and others via SketchUp. AutoCAD, Graphisoft and others via gbXML.

Hope this helps!