Autodesk Insight 360 – A New Paradigm in Energy Optimization

One of my roles at LHB, which I thoroughly enjoy, is doing research and development (R&D) on new technologies. This ranges from virtual and augmented reality to analysis and simulation. On the analysis front, not only have I been working with some great new tools, I have been in close contact with the software developers, which has provided a deep understanding of the tools and an opportunity to influence future development.

This post highlights the opportunities available with Autodesk Revit® software, Autodesk Insight 360® Cloud Services and LHB’s AIA 2030 Commitment®. Last year I presented on this topic at the Revit Technology Conference (RTC-NA) (now called BILT-NA) earning a top ten speaker award.

Many design firms, including LHB, use Autodesk Revit as their primary software to develop and document a building. Over the past two years Autodesk has made huge strides in the energy modeling, analysis, and optimization tools found directly within Revit and Insight 360.

Without getting into the details, here is a basic overview of the workflow:










The best part is, if a firm has Revit on subscription, all of these features do not have any additional cost.

Below, figure 1 shows the initial view of the project dashboard in Insight 360. Right away, we see the energy cost in the upper left (red circle). This value will change as we adjust inputs. Speaking of inputs, they have all been varied across all possible values. Thus, the Benchmark Comparison tile, shows the highest and lowest possible cost range—this means the best and worst possible scenarios based on energy usage.












Figure 1: Initial View of Insight 360

Highlights from Figure 1:

    1. Saved Scenarios Slide-out Panel
    2. Energy Cost Mean ($/m2/yr or EUI kBtu/ft2/yr)
    3. Geographic Location
    4. Model View Toolbar
    5. Scenario Creation and Comparison
    6. Input Adjustment Tiles

In my experience, the most significant new Autodesk feature is dynamic analysis. It provides insight into your design and the interrelated results based on making various adjustments. Traditional static analysis requires all inputs be selected before running a simulation, dynamic analysis allows you to input adjustments based on data shown in the form of graphs, allowing the designer to make the most effective choice.

To illustrate this point, Figure 2 is a graph of building orientation. We can see that adjusting the orientation of the design would have minimal impact on overall performance. That is, due to the relatively flat graph, changes to building orientation (represented by the graph’s x-axis) will have little effect on energy costs (y-axis).








Figure 2: Insight 360’s Dynamic Analysis of Building Orientation

When we contrast the Building Orientation graph with another metric such as Lighting Efficiency we see a more significant opportunity to affect the overall building performance, as shown in the figure 3.








Figure 3: Insight 360’s Dynamic Analysis of Lighting Efficiency

Autodesk’s Insight 360 allows architects and designers to easily see what choices will have the largest impacts on the building’s performance – all within a modeling software that is already LHB’s primary software. This facility between design and performance is what LHB strives for in our Performance Driven Design.

AIA 2030 Commitment firms can upload directly to DDx

Firms participating in the AIA 2030 Commitment are able to push data from Insight 360 directly into the AIA 2030 Design Data Exchange (DDx). Autodesk won the Architosh Best in Show award for BIM at the AIA Convention last year as mentioned here.

The next few images illustrate the simple upload process from within Insight 360:

Figure 4: Insight 360 Project Dashboard

The following image shows the information that will be sent to the AIA site. Notice the drop-down arrows allow input to be easily edited prior to clicking “send”.











Figure 5: Report interface which can be sent to AIA DDx


















Figure 6: Results shown on AIA DDx Dashboard

Energy modeling is an important part of LHB’s overall goal of high performance design. The AIA 2030 Commitment Progress Report states: “Energy modeling is a must to meet energy targets. This year, 59 percent of the gross square footage in whole building projects—roughly a 15 percent improvement over last year—used energy modeling.” The tools explained in this post are a critical element in transforming the industry’s methodology. The tools allow us to meet and exceed sustainability standards, continuing LHB’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of buildings and adding value to the product we deliver to our clients.

Authored by Dan Stine March 17, 2017


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