Energy Simulator

Year
2010

Environmental form finding 
GXN has developed software which allows designers to estimate energy consumption in early design phases. Today 80% of the energy savings in a building is dictated by the first 20% of the office work which means in the sketching phase. There are currently no tools that provide quick feedback on the energy consequences which means it is taken into account much later in the design stage where it is often too late or very costly to change. The project examines how technologies from the gaming industry can be used to estimate environmental aspects in the early design phase.

Energy simulation today
Today energy simulation is done by using external programs (such as BSIM, Be06, Ecotect and Energy Plus). These programs are complex, data intensive and require the exchange of detailed 3D models. This makes them hard to use in the early design phase which consists of many open questions and the need to quickly make changes in the design. Therefore the use of energy simulations is mostly used very late in the process where the building design is more or less fixed. This usually means that the design cannot benefit from possible energy - form optimizations.

A green game for architects
The project investigates how parametric tools can be used to work with environmental aspects in the early design phase. Through the development we have worked with aspects from the gaming industry, resulting in an interactive three-dimensional game that gives designers immediate energy feedback. The goal for the project has been to create a sketching tool to suit the architectural workflow and which is integrated into the existing drawing applications. The CAD drawing applications are currently used through all the design phases (from competition to the design stage) and therefore it has been important to develop the tool on that platform. The tool has been used by the competition team where it has been used to optimize the overall building design in relation to the solar radiation.

Method
The tool is developed in a parametric freeware Plug-In (Grasshopper) in the 3D drawing application Rhino. Rhino is an integrated tool in most offices, and it is a recognized tool in the architectural industry. The parametric tool makes it possible (through code) to relate the specific energy data to the subscribed geometry in the 3D program. Hereby it gives a quick feedback (in terms of colors / numbers / values) where the geometry can be altered until the desired outcome is achieved. This means that simulation and modification of the basic building geometry can be done simultaneously and not through file exchange between multiple applications.

Project Partners
The project is done in collaboration with Dansk Industri and Alexandra Instituttet under the project title INNOGATE (Innovation Through Gaming Technology) focusing on the potential of integrating gaming technologies into other business communities.

Dansk Industri, www.itek.di.dk
Alexandra Instituttet, www.alexandra.dk
Copenhagen, Denmark
2010

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