[BLDG-SIM] getting the whole design team into the performance assessment game.

Monjur M Mourshed monjur at ecaad.com
Thu Feb 13 05:25:42 PST 2003

It has been a pleasure reading different views from geographically
dispersed professionals.
Dr. Tianzhen Hong, Dr. Konstantinos Papamichael and Prof. Murray Milne
suggested Visual DOE, BDA (Building Design Advisor) and an Architect
Friendly Simulation Tool. I have installed and used the first two last
year and higly recommend these tools depending on the purpose they
serve. As far as I remember I emailed Van Woods (BDA) about their
achievement regarding the tools. I didn't know about Murray's architect
friendly tool, I will download from the link provided. In short, Visual
DOE is a visual interface to the DOE Engine where as BDA can help
someone with formulation of the design in early phases. As explained in
Dr. Papamichael's email it also links to other simulation engines (What
some people call matrix cruncher) like DOE, Delight and ECM. I don't
have any doubt about their contribution towards better design.
1.	All these tools require a great deal of effort to set up and run
the simulation engine. Some can understand or grasp software's
functionality quicker than the others. Running energy simulation or
making a building energy efficient is not the only thing an architect
does. (S)he deals with a lot of complex issues. It is the architect who
sketches the form of the building and tries to explain it to others. It
is nearly impossible to include BSE (Building Services Engineer) in this
stage. Say, when I am sketching a concept, I usually work on the form
(That's 50% of the energy conscious design). Well, I know about the
guidelines available or what can make the building more energy efficient
- but I am never sure of how the building performs (to be precise, its
form). Mr. Calbert, I agree with you, it is always better to have BSE's
in the team from early design stages, but architecture is not only an
engineered product, it also satisfies some aesthetic, philosophical
purposes. Even when some architects work in the team - concept comes
from one person and it's a blackbox/ intuitive thing - matter of complex
cognitive activities of humans. Of course, the design gets refined from
brainstorming activities, but before that most of the decisive decisions
are taken. During early stages ideas, concepts, data and information all
are ill-structured, ill-defined. Apart from aesthetic - engineering
controversy, think from a business point of view - some architectural
firms can't afford to have a separate BSE in the team. Some of the
designs are won through competitions and there's no project management
team to oversee these collaborations. 
2.	It is now easier to define geometry and run a simulation than
say, 5 years ago. But these tools are not integrated with the design
process, rather they force you to get out of drawing program (which is
now ** 3D object based **) and start another simulation software, define
or draw your geometry again, define HVAC system (if required) and run
the simulation. Why do I need to define the geometry whereas I have
already done that in CAD software? You might say, you can draw your
geometry in VISIO or ArchiCAD or ADT (Architectural Desktop) and export
is in .IFC (Industrial Foundation Classes) format and import it to
EnergyPlus. Is it from the CAD software you are doing all these? Nope.
You export your CAD file to .IFC format. Use separate utility to map
.IFC file to .IDF(EnergyPlus input file). Here's the point: What if you
want to change your window and see how the building performs? You will
have to go back to your CAD software and redo the whole thing again and
again until you find something satisfactory.
3.	What I said earlier, we have great analytical simulation tools
like DOE, EnergyPlus, Lightscape as matrix cruncher; We have IFC (though
a prototype) or gbXML or ifcXML as specification to represent building
information; we have some CAD tools with IFC implementation (ArchiCAD,
VISIO, ADT .); we also have BDA as interface to these matrix crunchers -
THE NEED TO CHANGE THE PROCESS? All my geometric information is within
ArchiCAD/ ADT/ VISIO - and I don't want to specify again. The
information is not lines or 3D extrusion from 2D shapes - these are rich
- It contains all the information I need to input into Energy Simulation
Peter DeWilde has rightfully addressed some of the issues describing
IAI-IFC initiative and Fried Augenbroe's DAI initiative. IFC's a mammoth
task as they want to represent the whole industry and every process in
that. To get a matured representation for use in the real-life
scenarios, I believe we will have to wait couple of more years. But I
have reservations about the way Building Simulation industry as a whole
is proceeding. Vendors want to implement their own data standards
without any sympathy to existing process and initiatives. On the other
hand, we are slow to uptake new technologies; e.g. XML came after IFCs.
If the industry took a greater initiative to implement XMLs than IFCs,
probably we wouldn't need to talk about all these now -> without any
disrespect to IFC or ISO-STEP (which is hard for novice software
developer to understand and implement).
Peter also mentioned that for a "blackbox" intuitive simulation tool,
some sacrifices need to be made in terms of efficiency and accuracy of
the result. All the analytical simulation tool (not intuitive ones!)
makes a lot of assumptions and these are also termed as "near accurate".
All an architect needs is a feel for the energy performance of the
proposed solution. Not detailed analysis (CFD) or detailed design (BSE's
are for that). We would be happy with the near accurate (!) things.
Research only shows the way, sometimes it is not directly a marketable
product. Unless and until we have a reliable commercial product,
holistic concept of "Energy Conservation" will be limited to conference
and journal papers, workshops and seminars. Think of DOS and Windows -
if all the computers of the world were run using DOS, would you have
millions of users? 
Monjur M Mourshed
Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Engineering
National University of Ireland Cork. Ireland.
Web:    <http://www.ecaad.com/monjur> http://www.ecaad.com/monjur
Email :  <mailto:m.mourshed at mars.ucc.ie> m.mourshed at mars.ucc.ie
            <mailto:monjur at ecaad.com> monjur at ecaad.com

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