Thursday, May 31, 2007

Autodesk Extends 3D Leadership with Acquisition of NavisWorks

Autodesk has signed an agreement to acquire NavisWorks, a privately-held company based in Sheffield, England that provides software for 3D coordination, collaboration and sequencing in design and construction for approximately $25 million in USD cash, subject to a working capital adjustment. The acquisition underscores Autodesk’s commitment to help its customers derive the greatest possible value from the information created during all phases of the design process.

NavisWorks is a global provider of software that enables full exploitation of the benefits of 3D digital designs in the construction, plant and marine design markets for purposes ranging from design coordination and clash detection to construction simulations. Its products are used by many of the world’s leading construction companies, architects, engineers, process and power firms and shipbuilders. NavisWorks products support increased interoperability by coordinating design information from multiple sources. The company is also a Charter Member of the USA National BIM standard.

Autodesk currently plans to offer new solutions that incorporate both NavisWorks and Autodesk technology, and to continue supporting the existing NavisWorks product line “The acquisition of NavisWorks is part of Autodesk’s commitment to offering more complete solutions
across the AEC industry” said Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, Autodesk AEC Solutions. “The addition of NavisWorks technology to the Autodesk portfolio will help our customers leverage their design data to make better design and construction decisions and increase the value of their investments in design technology.”

“For more than 7 years, NavisWorks solutions have helped design professionals across the construction, building, plant, and marine industries better collaborate, create more coordinated designs, and work more efficiently,” said Peter Thompson, CEO of NavisWorks. “The combination of NavisWorks and Autodesk technology is an excellent match. Our products augment the coordinated, consistent, and computable information produced by the Revit platform for building information modeling, and can aggregate that information with data from other sources including AutoCAD, Inventor and Civil 3D, to build the most complete understanding possible of the overall project. We are excited to join the Autodesk family.”

Annotation Scaling in AutoCAD MEP 2008

A new feature that we have been waiting 30 years for is finally here with the new 2008 version. Annotation scaling allows you to plot annotation at the same height or size regardless of the viewport zoom scale. Annotation scales can be associated with annotative objects in AutoCAD MEP so that these objects can be sized properly for specific annotation scales in model space and displayed correctly in paper space. You can also toggle on or off the display of annotation objects that do not participate in the current annotation scale. You no longer need to have multiple objects in your drawing for each possible scale, and turn the scales that you are not using off.
Annotative AutoCAD MEP Objects
In AutoCAD MEP, labels are annotative objects if the corresponding label curve style is configured to be annotative. You configure a label curve style to be annotative in one of 2 ways depending on the type of style.

If the label curve style uses block graphics or flow arrow graphics, and Use Annotation Scale for Block is selected in the style, then the style is considered annotative. (As a convenience, this is selected by default when you select a block whose Annotative property is set to Yes, but you can deselect it.)

If the label curve style uses a text style, then the configuration of the text style determines whether the label curve style is considered annotative.

When you modify a label curve style to make it annotative or non-annotative (using the methods described below for block-based styles and text-based styles), all labels using the style are updated accordingly in the drawing. In the case of a block-based style, you cannot make the style annotative or non-annotative by modifying the Annotative property in the underlying block definition.

NOTE:Schedules are not considered annotative. Therefore, they do not scale accordingly when the annotation scale changes. When you insert a schedule into a drawing, it uses the annotation scale that is current at the time of insertion, and its scale does not change.

AutoCAD MEP Objects with Annotative Components
Some AutoCAD MEP objects are not annotative, but they have components that are (or can be) annotative. The following table lists these components.

All Disiplines

  • Rise symbols and drop symbols
  • View blocks of MvParts if Use Annotation Scale is selected in the corresponding MvPart style definition. You select this on a per-view basis on the Views tab in Style Manager.


  • Flow markers
  • Annotation pattern on flexible ducts
  • Flow arrows on air terminals if Use Annotation Scale for Block is selected in the MvPart properties. You select this on the Flow tab in the Multi-view Part Properties dialog.


  • Flow markers
  • Annotation pattern on flexible pipes
  • Placeholder pipe
  • In Graphical 1-Line: rise symbols, drop symbols, in-line/anchored MvParts, and reducers


  • Home runs, tick marks, and gaps on wires
  • Pattern on cable trays
  • View blocks of devices and panels if Use Annotation Scale is selected in the corresponding device style or panel style. You select this on a per-view basis on the Views tab in Style Manager.
  • You can use the conversion tools provided with the software to update large numbers of devices to be annotative.


  • Plumbing fittings
  • Plumbing fittings are always scaled according to the current annotation scale in model space.
  • Gaps on plumbing lines


  • Schematic symbols.
  • Schematic symbols are always scaled according to the current annotation scale in model space.
  • Start symbols, end symbols, connections symbols, and gaps on schematic lines
  • You can use the conversion tools provided with the software to update large numbers of schematic symbols to be annotative.

The Hatch display component is not an annotative component of an object. Therefore, it does not scale accordingly when the annotation scale changes.

IMPORTANT:Objects with annotative components that are block-based (for example, flow arrows on air terminals, and view blocks for devices) are considered annotative based on whether Use Annotation Scale (for Block) is selected. The Annotative property in the associated block definition has no bearing on whether the object is annotative.

Annotation Tools with Annotative Properties
Use annotation tools to create annotation objects that respond to specific annotation scales. An annotation tool is a customizable AutoCAD MEP tool for adding the following types of annotations to drawings:

  • Multi-line text notes
  • Symbol-based notes with attributes
  • Reference keynotes
  • Sheet notes
  • Callouts
  • Multi-view blocks
  • AEC dimensions

Multi-view blocks derive their annotative properties from their block definition. AEC dimensions derive their annotative properties from their dimension style.

The following are annotation objects created by AutoCAD:

  • Text
  • MText
  • Dimensions
  • Leaders
  • Block References
  • Hatches
  • MLeaders

Specifying Annotation Scale
When you use AutoCAD MEP tools to generate AutoCAD objects such as leaders and callouts, these objects become annotative objects that respond to annotation scaling. When you generate Multi-view blocks and AEC dimensions, these objects are also annotative and respond to annotation scaling with respect to scale and location based on the current annotation scale.

The annotation scale is a setting associated with the model tab and paper space viewports and is also saved with model views. It is controlled by the CANNOSCALE system variable value which sets the current annotation scale. Different annotation scales can be assigned to model views and paper space viewports.

Annotation Scales and Viewports
When working in a paper space viewport, the annotation scale of the viewport controls the scale of the annotative objects created in the viewport. If multiple scale representations are supported, the annotative objects in the viewport are drawn and scaled based on the annotation scale without affecting the scale or display in the model tab or in other paper space viewports.
The viewport and annotation scales are synchronized when the annotation scaling controls are used. For example, when you change the viewport scale, the annotation scale updates to match the new viewport scale. However, as you zoom in or out of a viewport with your mouse wheel or by using the Zoom commands, the viewport scale updates while the annotation scale will remain unchanged.

Scale representations allow for the display of the same annotative object differently in different paper space viewports at the same time. Scale representations allow annotative objects to be drawn at different sizes based on the annotation scale. Each scale representation may also have different values for positional properties, such as a text string base point. The properties that can vary per scale representation depend on the object type.

Whenever an annotation object is identified as annotative as you add it to a drawing, the current annotation scale is added to the object as a participatory scale. AutoCAD MEP objects identified as annotative will scale to match the current annotation scale. The scale point is the insertion point of the block definition.

Any annotation settings within all nested text or dimension styles referred to by an AutoCAD MEP object, such as materials or component hatching, schedule tables, or stairs, will be ignored. Display properties for these objects do not respect annotation scaling.
Annotative objects such as diffuser tags now have a Scale Representation Location Grip. Use this grip to relocate the current scale representation instance. Use the Location grip to relocate all of the scale representations at once. If there is only one scale representation supported for a particular tag, only the Location grip is displayed.

Object Height x Annotation Scale x Annotation Plot Size = Model Space or Paper Space Height
For example, the model space text height for a text string when displayed in a viewport scaled to 1/4" = 1' - 0" is 12". Assuming an object height of 1 unit, the formula applies as follows:

1 x 48 x 1/4” = 12”

Blocks used by AutoCAD MEP callouts, title marks, and other kinds of annotation must be created relative to a single AutoCAD unit (either an inch or a millimeter, depending upon whether your working in imperial or metric units). Documentation content files, regardless of whether they are based on blocks or multi-view blocks have the additional requirement that they be inserted at a scale relative to your anticipated plot scale, and taking into account the “Annotation Plot Size” setting in the drawing setup dialog box. As a baseline, you can use one AutoCAD unit, and anything in the content file that is one unit in size will be the annotation plot size when plotted at the specified annotation scale. Everything in the block, including geometry and text, must be created relative to the single AutoCAD unit. The entire block is scaled proportionally.

Updating Legacy Annotative Objects
When you are working with previous versions of Building Systems, you can update appropriate objects in AutoCAD MEP so that they are annotative. This sections outlines the procedure for updating three types of objects: AutoCAD objects (text, dimensions, and hatching, for example), AutoCAD MEP blocks, and AutoCAD MEP multi-view blocks and AEC dimensions.

If you choose only one occurrence of an object to make annotative, only that instance of the object will be annotative. To apply an annotative property to all of the objects in a particular style, edit that style and assign an annotative property to all instances of that style. You can also enter ANNOUPDATE on the Command line to update the selected text objects. Leaders, MText, dimensions, and other objects are assigned an annotative property by this same procedure.

Updating Legacy AutoCAD Text to Annotative
Use this procedure to edit a legacy AutoCAD text style and add an annotative property. You can also use this procedure to update AutoCAD dimensions.

  1. Open the legacy Architectural Desktop drawing in AutoCAD Architecture.
  2. Specify the same annotation scale in the new AutoCAD Architecture drawing as in the legacy Architectural Desktop drawing.
  3. From the Format menu, click Text Style.
  4. In the Text Style dialog, from the Styles list, select the appropriate text style.
  5. Under Size, select Annotative.
  6. Click Apply.
  7. On the Command Line, enter ANNOUPDATE to update all annotative objects.

Any text strings of the selected text style are now annotative.

Updating Legacy Building Systems Blocks to Annotative
Use this procedure to edit a legacy Building System blocks, such as callouts or titlemarks, and add an annotative property.

  1. Open the legacy Building Systems drawing in AutoCAD MEP.
  2. Specify the same annotation scale in the new AutoCAD MEP drawing as in the legacy Building Systems drawing.
  3. On the Command Line, enter BEDIT to open the Block Editor.
  4. In the Edit Block Definition dialog, select the block to edit, and then click OK.
  5. On the Properties Palette, under Block, select Yes for Annotative.
  6. On the Block Editor toolbar, click Close Block Editor and then save your changes.

Any blocks of the selected block style are now annotative.

Updating Legacy Building Systems Multi-view Blocks to Annotative
Use this procedure to edit a legacy Building Systems multi-view block and add an annotative property to each block for each view. You can also use this procedure to update legacy AEC dimensions.

  1. Open the legacy Building Systems drawing in AutoCAD MEP.
  2. Specify the same annotation scale in the new AutoCAD MEP drawing as in the legacy Building Systems drawing.
  3. On the Command Line, enter BEDIT to open the Block Editor.
  4. In the Edit Block Definition dialog, select the first block to edit, and then click OK.
  5. On the Properties Palette, under Block, select Yes for Annotative.
  6. On the Block Editor toolbar, click Close Block Editor and then save your changes.
  7. Repeat these steps for the remaining blocks of the remaining views of the multi-view block.
  8. On the Command Line, enter ANNOUPDATE to update the selected blocks.

The selected blocks now have an annotative property

Friday, May 25, 2007

Carmael Software Package automates entire design process

DESIGN-BUILD 6.0 by Carmel Software,, is a suite of five software programs that automate the entire HVAC design-build process. The solution, which is based upon the latest ASHRAE Fundamentals, performs HVAC design-build analysis including commercial and residential load calculations, duct sizing, cost estimating and proposal generation. The programs come with pre-formatted customizable databases and accept user-supplied equipment, material and parts.

The user creates an HVAC load calculation project for the building in Loadsoft-6.0, which performs calculations for commercial and industrial loads, or Residential 5.0, which does the math for residential and light commercial loads. Loadsoft calculations use the 2005 Fundamentals radiant time series method; Residential 5.0 calculations are based upon the ASHRAE 2001 Fundamentals residential algorithms (Chapter 28). These modules include databases for 200+ walls, roofs, floors and windows.

Both load calculation modules are compatible with AutoCAD MEP and Revit MEP for easy data import of building information from the AutoCAD MEP or Revit MEP drawing, including room dimensions and number of people. Importing that information eliminates the need for manual input of that data for each room and system. Afterward, the user can export the results back to AutoCAD MEP or to Revit MEP drawing to aid in duct and piping design.

After the building is modeled and the total cooling and heating loads calculated, the project designer/estimator imports the weather, address, airflow values and other data for each room into the next module in the process, Duct Size 6.0, which provides total duct system analysis to facilitate proper sizing of the ducts and fans that serve the system. (Duct Size 6.0 also works with AutoCAD, enabling the designer to import a single-line drawing and export it back as a double-line or 3-D drawing.)

The duct-sizing program can generate numerous reports, including duct dimension and airflow breakdown, a heat-loss breakdown, friction-loss breakdown, sound-power breakdown and a material list that can be imported into Estimate 6.0.

Using all the information from the load calculation and duct-sizing modules, the estimating module creates an estimate of final total costs based on the mechanical take-off and can generate a proposal exportable to Microsoft Word or Excel for presentation to the customer.

The estimating database includes many types of HVAC equipment, including 50,000+ HVAC parts from major vendors, as well as labor costs assignable to the equipment and material. A Status Module keeps time-stamped track of the status of each project and tells the user which data is being shared and where.

Each of the software programs can be purchased and used separately.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Slow creation of Network deployments for AutoCAD MEP 2008

When you created a deployment from the original installation media for either AutoCAD Architecture 2008 or AutoCAD MEP 2008, it took much longer than expected.

The new installer for these products incorrectly copies the data from the installation media to the destination folder multiple times, increasing the deployment creation time by a factor of 3 or more.

To avoid this issue, it is strongly recommended that you copy the installation files to a local drive first and then run the installer on the local drive to create the deployment.

Tool Palette Management in a Network Deployment

AutoCAD MEP and AutoCAD Architecture use tool palettes differently than normal AutoCAD and the path setting in Options under the Files tab was designed only for use with the AutoCAD tool palettes. This path needs to remain as set by the system in AutoCAD MEP. Changing this path can result in problems. To share tool palettes among multiple users, you need to use the content browser to create shared tool palettes.


Understanding a Tool Palette:
An individual tool palette contains the tools (buttons) that are displayed on a palette within ABS. The source file (*.atc) for an individual palette contains the following items:
  1. The name and command that is executed when a tool is selected.
  2. The path to any necessary support files required for the tool to function.
  3. Any settings specific to the type of tool. For instance, layer keys, overrides, and insertion behavior.
Right-click on different tools and look at the Properties for further tool properties.
Other items such as tool icons and source blocks are located in other locations and referenced as mentioned above.

Understanding a Tool Palette Library:
A library of tool palettes consists of multiple tool palettes contained in one folder located on either a local machine or a network. The support files to allow the tools in different tool palettes to function can be located in different places, as long as the paths are correct within each ATC file.

The library represents the tool palettes that can be used in a given ABS workspace. The actual organization of the palettes into groups is not contained in the library. These settings are maintained by the current ABS profile. The profile defines what palettes are available and in what groups they are placed.

Understanding a Tool Catalog:
A tool catalog is a library of tools and tool palettes that can be imported into the workspace or shared among other users. The actual tool catalog file keeps track of the locations of the items it contains, as well as the organization of these items.


Preparing a Tool Palette Library for Deployment:
The CAD Manager or other managing user should configure the tool palettes as desired locally on their machine. This can include; creating new palettes that contain custom tools, moving tools from one palette to another for organizational purposes, redefining the settings for a given tool, adding tools for custom content, among other things.

The end result of this process should be that the tool palettes on the manager’s machine contain all the tools desired, and the tools are organized on the palettes.

Creating a New Tool Catalog in the Content Browser:
Content Browser will be your method for publishing and deploying tool palettes in a network environment. You will create a tool catalog that contains your tool palettes, publish that tool catalog to the network, and deploy it to users in the CAD environment. To create the tool catalog in Content Browser, complete the following steps.

  1. Open the Content Browser (AecContentBrowser in the command line).
  2. Create a new tool catalog by clicking on the create new catalog icon in the bottom left corner of the window ..
  3. You want to select the “Create a new catalog” option and name the catalog. You can choose to place the new catalog in any location. I would suggest the default location, as it will be easier to find this “source” tool catalog for later modifications.
  4. The tool catalog will be published to the network later in the process, so there’s no need to have this version on the network.
  5. If you would like your tool palettes to be grouped into categories when you deploy the tool catalog, you need to create a category for each group in your tool catalog. To create a new category, for example “HVAC Equipment”, right-click in the catalog and choose Add Category or click on the Add New Category icon in the bottom left corner.
  6. Categories are useful to organize your palettes into groups for organizational purposes. They also allow you to deploy a group of palettes into a new machine instead of one-by-one.
  7. You now need to transfer your tool palettes to the new tool catalog in Content Browser. With the correct category in your new tool catalog open in content browser, click-and-drag each of the tool palette tabs into content browser.

The tool catalog should now be populated with the tool palettes that you wish to deploy in the CAD environment. If you inadvertently place a tool palette in the wrong category, you can cut and- paste it into the correct category.

Publishing Your New Tool Catalog:
With your new tool catalog populated and organized properly, you’re ready to publish the catalog to the network for deployment.

To publish the catalog, complete the following steps.
  1. In the Home view of content browser, right-click on the new tool catalog you’ve created and select Publish ‘Your Catalog Name’.
  2. Choose to copy the catalog to another location. This allows you to place the catalog on your network, while leaving the original catalog on your local machine. Choose Next.
  3. Choose the network location you’d like to use for sharing of this catalog and the tool palettes contained within. Choose Next.
  4. You will now be prompted to set the path of all the support files needed for the catalog. Make sure the box for “Automatically copy tool dependent files into the above folder to be referenced by the published catalog” is checked. Choose a content directory of your choice. Choose Next.
  5. As explained in the concepts section of this document, there are support files that are needed in order for tool palettes to function properly. The process of publishing rewrites the paths for these support files to a location of your choice. The support files themselves are also copied to this location. This allows for the tool catalog to function by itself on the network.
  6. You now set the path that users will utilize to locate the tool catalog on the network. Both a UNC path and a mapped drive can be used. Make sure that the read-only box is checked. Also make sure that the “Set items not to be refreshable when drag/dropped into the workspace” is unchecked. Select Finish.
  7. Setting items as read-only prevents users from modifying the tool catalog on the network. This is helpful when manager seeks to control the CAD environment.
  8. Navigate to the tool catalog location on your network and set the master ATC file (yourcatalogname.atc) to read-only. This will prevent users from modifying the master file. In the previous step you set the files contained in the tool catalog to read-only. The tool catalog containing your tool palettes has now been published to the network. The support files for those palettes to function have also been placed on the network, and the paths to locate them have been rewritten. At this point your tool palettes are can function on their own and need to be added to the users’ Content Browser Libraries.

Deploying the Tool Catalog to Users’ Content Browser Library:
There are two different methods for deploying your new tool catalog to users’ content browser. The first is a manual addition.

To complete a manual addition, follow these steps:
  1. Open content browser on a user’s machine.
  2. Choose to add a new catalog.
  3. Choose to add an existing catalog and browse to the network location where you published your tool catalog. Select the master catalog file (yourcatalogname.atc).
The second method is to create a registry install file. To complete this process, follow these steps:
  1. Open content browser on the manager’s machine. Select your published catalog.
  2. You can confirm that a tool catalog is located on the network by checking the path to its location, which is located its properties.
  3. Hold the Shift key and right-click on the published catalog. Choose the “Convert to Registry File” option.
  4. Name the registry install file and place it in a network location that other users can access.
  5. Using the appropriate method for your network, run the registry key on users’ machines. The published tool catalog, and all the tool palettes contained within, has been added to the users’ content browsers.

Adding Tool Palettes to the Users’ Workspace:
Even though the tool catalog has been added to the content browser, the tool palettes it contains have not been added to the tool palette library for the workspace. To do this, complete the following:
  1. Open content browser and navigate to the networked tool catalog.
  2. Find the tool palette that you want to add to the workspace. Move your cursor over the i-drop icon and then drag-and-drop the tool palettes anywhere in the workspace.
  3. The tool palettes are linked back to the original network location. You’ll notice that there’s a small icon in the bottom right corner of the tool palette. If the user clicks on this icon the tool palette will be updated according to the published tool catalog.
This should import the tool palette from the network tool catalog. Now the user has a tool palette that’s automatically refreshed each time the program is loaded.

Configuring Tool Palettes in Users’ Machines:
You’ve now imported the tool palettes from the network into the program tool palette library. You need to set the tool palette grouping now using profiles. Remember, tool palette grouping is controlled by profiles.

As part of your management of the CAD environment, you’ve most likely created a profile that sets the various paths and settings that you would like to be active on users’ machines. Activate this profile and organize the tool palettes into groups as desired. If you’ve used categories in your Tool Catalog, then the palette grouping was added to current profile at the time of importing the tool palettes.

To customize the groups, you need to select the Customize option when you right-click on the tool palette border.

When you’ve set the groups to the desired grouping, export the profile for use by the users.

Deploying User Profile:
The link that’s used to start ABS or ADT contains a p-switch, “/p”, followed by the name of a profile to load at startup. This p-switch can be followed by a path to a network location as well. Place the exported file on your network and modify the program shortcut to point towards this ARG file. This allows for easy deployment of future changes to the profile, since the manager simply has to replace the ARG file on the network.

End Result
Using the procedures outlined by this guide, you should be able to organize and deploy tool palettes and profiles to groups of users.

AutoCAD MEP 2008 Format change

AutoCAD MEP 2008 did indeed introduce a file format change. This was prompted through making significant enhancements to the display of MEP objects, i.e. rise/drop graphics, hidden lines, display component control and the such. The changes made to the objects introduced a new object version which is what brought on the file format change and the backward compatibility limitations. The actual AutoCAD drawing version still remains a 2007 DWG version which is what you will notice when you save a drawing. The file type is AutoCAD 2007 Drawing (*.dwg).

When ever a file format change happens there are always limitations when saving back to previous versions. In the case of AutoCAD MEP 2008 only visual fidelity is maintained when saving back, and no functionality is preserved. Therefore you can not continue to work on a drawing that you started in MEP 2008 in 2007.

Autodesk has minimized the impact of the file format change by maintaining visual fidelity between releases if you save the 2008 drawing with PROXYGRAPHICS set to 1. You won't be able to work on a 2008 drawing in 2007, and you will have to deal with proxy graphics, but the drawing will look exactly the same to help with sharing of drawings.

So what does this mean to you?

It depends on your environment and how you share drawings. If everybody in your company is on the latest version, and you need to send your 2008 MEP drawings to a client or a contractor or an owner who has 2007 version of MEP, you can use the Export to AutoCAD tool, where it will turn your MEP objects into proxygraphics. You want to keep that file separate from your production drawings, because they have now lost their MEP intelligence. But it should be good enough for others to view your drawings. If you have multiple versions within the same office, you need to be very careful not to open and save drawings in the new version that users of older versions need to work in. One work around, if you cannot get everybody in the office on the same version, is to work in project teams, where one project will stay in a 2007 format, and other projects will stay in a 2008 format and the users will not open project files that do not match the version they have on their computer.

While this may not be the most idea workflow for companies that have multiple versions in the office, it is what we have to deal with. The best way to deal with this is to make sure everybody who needs to work on the project is using the same version. If that means everybody needs to have the newest version, then companies will need to work on implementing the newest version as soon as they can.

Other programs such as Revit Architecture have been dealing with this issue for years, because RVT files are not backwards compatible at all. So the Revit platform is even worse than AutoCAD as far as backwards compatibility, but companies have been diligently upgrading and working with Revit projects and sharing them more and more each year.

So try not to look at improvements in the technology and the limitations that it brings as a bad thing. Programs evolve, and people adapt, and it's a continuous game that we will always be playing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Energy Analysis: Green Building Studio

Building designers can use computer software, such as DOE-2 and EnergyPlus, to evaluate potential energy saving measures. However, preparing the input in a way that accurately represents the proposed building and its energy efficient features is a costly, labor-intensive process. As a result, energy analysis is often postponed to a later point in the design process, resulting in a greatly reduced number of cost-effective options for boosting efficiency than if it had been considered from the start.

The Green Building Studio (GBS) is a Web-based service that enables building design teams to integrate whole building energy analysis into the early stages of the design process. Architects and engineers use their existing building information modeling (BIM) systems to communicate the project’s building geometry to the GBS Web site, which conducts an energy analysis of the building design. GBS enables the design team to look at the energy impact of early decisions, compare alternatives, and share information more broadly than in conventional design practices.

Building energy model.. The heart of the system is an open data format called Green Building XML (gbXML), a simple means of sharing data between BIM and energy simulation software. Designers construct their early building design model from their own BIM system, and then they use gbXML and some simple user inputs to export a building energy model.

Before a simulation, GBS will error-check the submitted gbXML file to ensure that all the building spaces are properly defined. Most commonly used BIM systems are compatible with gbXML, which is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Compatible systems include Autodesk Revit Building and Revit Systems; Autodesk Architectural Desktop (ADT) 2004, 2005, and 2006; Autodesk Building Systems (ABS); and Graphisoft ArchiCAD 9 and 10. In addition, major HVAC manufacturers accept gbXML input directly into their energy and load analysis packages. GBS uses the internal load information—such as lighting, equipment, number of people, and space type—at the room level from Revit Systems, ArchiCAD, ADT, or ABS.

Energy analysis.. The gbXML export from BIM feeds an energy model that is automatically developed through the use of regional building standards and codes, which enable the GBS system to make intelligent assumptions about items such as insulation and lighting levels. The resulting building description then goes through a DOE-2.2 hourly simulation using typical year weather data for the building’s location. The simulation generates estimates for annual energy consumption, costs, and a wide range of data on heating and cooling loads.

Comparing alternatives. Designers can use a new Design Alternative feature to modify their GBS runs to compare the energy impact of design options such as window types, glazing types and orientation, lighting efficiency and controls, HVAC systems, wall insulation levels, building orientation, multilevel versus single-level designs, and other building geometry considerations that come up early in the design process.

GBS offers five free simulations for each project. After the five free runs are used, each additional simulation requires a nominal fee based on the number of spaces being analyzed. In addition, GBS allows manufacturers to place their products in GBS so that users can apply the product to their design to evaluate its potential energy savings.

Information sharing. The GBS system also facilitates direct sharing of detailed project and building data with engineering firms, which can then run the information through detailed design software, use it to specify equipment, and share it with other parties such as bid preparers and manufacturers of building products.

Saving time on plan takeoff. GBS also makes it easy to go to the next step by creating detailed input files for more comprehensive energy analysis by DOE-2 and EnergyPlus. The files are created in minutes—a process that could take one to two weeks using plan takeoff or engineering services. Using this capability can reduce the cost of preliminary and downstream building design by $5,000 to $10,000 or more.

Product Advisor. The GBS system also features a Product Advisor that enables the service to continue to be offered relatively inexpensively. Each building project that goes through GBS provides the design team with relevant product information as early in the process as the planning and schematic design stages.

Using a Web-style bidding and paid placement approach as well as a building relevance filter, the system sends highly targeted building component advertisements to the building designer’s desktop in the GBS Product Advisor screen. These advertisements are linked to building product libraries online, providing targeted advertising placement for product manufacturers and project-appropriate information for the design team.

GBS is best suited for use in new construction and major renovation of commercial or residential buildings of any size, including single-family homes. It is currently enabled only for facilities located in the United States.

What’s Next
In early 2007, GBS will be expanded to the United Kingdom (UK), when Greenspace Research, a GBS partner, launches GBS UK. This will allow UK customers to more accurately analyze their buildings.

GBS was developed by Green Building Studio Inc. with funding from the PIER program and from the California utilities (Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and The Gas Company) that support the nonresidential new construction program Savings By Design. The Green Building Studio energy analysis presents building energy performance in a form that can be viewed online or printed to share with a client.

Green Building Studio Inc., John Kennedy, 707-569-7373,,
California Energy Commission, Norman Bourassa, 916-654-4581,, or visit