ArchiCAD Insights: Energize Your Practice

14 Apr, 2005 By: Viktor Bullain Cadalyst

ArchiCAD offers easy and effective ways to expand your firm’s services and meet new client requirements

In previous columns (click here for archives), we have discussed how the Virtual Building can help you create a better coordinated documentation set faster, allowing the architect to focus on the design rather than the documentation process. In today's highly competitive environment, clients require more than just drawings as deliverables. Many clients demand a full Virtual Building model in order to award a project. Others may demand energy analysis in the conceptual phase, making it nearly impossible to implement in current traditional design methods. ArchiCAD offers an easy and effective way to expand your services and meet these new client requirements.

Focus on Energy Efficiency
Energy consumption is rapidly growing while energy prices are on the rise. The state of the economy is affecting almost every company and family in the United States. The federal government requires LEED silver certification for new structures built by the government. By the end of the year, the State of California will require advanced technologies to reduce energy consumption.

ArchiCAD works with several energy analysis tools. This article highlights how ArchiCAD works directly with Green Building Studio to help improve energy efficiency. The Green Building Studio Web service provides reasonable, highly accurate energy use estimates for your ArchiCAD building designs. Green Building Studio can be applied at the very early stages of design. Applying energy efficiency solutions at the beginning of your design cycle helps save time. Green Building Studio provides an integral part of the design process.

Application in Action
To get started with this free service, log on and register. Create a new project name for your design. Green Building Studio enables you to organize your building energy analysis projects effectively. It also enables other project members to have access to the results from these analyses.

Preparing the Building Model for Energy Analysis
The energy analysis calculations depend on detailed building information, including number of spaces, construction and geometry of the surfaces bounding the spaces and the openings in the surfaces. All this data is automatically extracted from your ArchiCAD project model by the GBS Energy add-on.

Room and Building Zones. The Zone polygons illustrate where the add-on believes the rooms and building perimeter to be. To correct errors you can:

  • Adjust the room perimeters by modifying the Zone polygon
  • Delete zones where rooms do not exist
  • Add new zones where rooms have been missed

The add-on recognizes a zone as a GBS room or building by the stamp. A GBS room will have a zone stamp called GBS Zone and a building will have a stamp called GBS Building Zone.

Energy Analysis with the Virtual Building
To run the Green Building Studio from within ArchiCAD you must enable the Web service and information transfer using green building XML, called gbXML for short. There are gbXML add-ons available for ArchiCAD 8.0, 8.1, and 9.0 on both the Mac and Windows platforms.

Step 1. To get started, select Login from the GBS Energy menu.


Step 2. Enter your GBS User name and password and click the Login button. You can also specify that the add-on remember your login by checking the Remember checkbox.

Getting Energy Results
Step 3. Select the Perform Energy Analysis menu item under the GBS Energy menu.

Step 4. In the Project Details frame select the GBS project you want to associate with this ArchiCAD plan, select the project building type by selecting the best representation in the Type list, enter a unique run name and specify the Zip code of this building's location. The building type and Zip code enables Green Building Studio to select the appropriate standards and information for the engineering analysis.

Step 5. In the Analysis Settings frame you can specify to recalculate the rooms to have the add-on automatically add zones to your plan. If any of your building is under grade, change the Project Zero Elevation and an estimated Average Ground Level value. If you want the add-on to automatically add slabs between floors, check that box. If you also want to save the gbXML file that is created by the add-on, check that box.


Step 6. If you specified the add-on to recalculate zones on the previous screen or selected the Calculate Room Positions menu item, you will see the following window. Ensure that the values entered are realistic. Click OK.


Energy Analysis Results
If everything with your model is correct, a browser window will open that is similar to the one below, presenting you with the status of your Green Building Studio energy analysis.


The Green Building Studio energy engineering results pages provide highly accurate, yet simple summarized information on building energy performance and costs that can be used immediately to compare the relative energy costs of building design scenarios at the early conceptual design stage. The following is a guide to interpreting the results.

General Information. The General Building information section at the top of the page describes the project scenario, building type, geographic location and gross floor area.

Estimated Energy & Cost Summary. Most building energy cost comparisons and early compliance decisions can be made using annualized energy cost and consumption information. Costs are estimated using local utilities rates. The following information is provided:

  • Annual Energy Cost
  • Lifecycle Energy Costs (30 year)
  • Annual Energy Consumption (electric and gas)
  • Peak Electric Energy Demand (kW)
  • Lifecycle Energy Consumption (electric and gas)

Energy End-Use Charts. Further breakdowns of energy use for major electric and gas end uses, such as lighting, HVAC and space heating, are provided in graphical format. Numbers associated with each category can be seen by clicking on the pie charts.

Building Summary. Detailed statistics and information on building constructions are also provided. This information allows the building designer to get an early assessment of code compliance and rough estimates of equipment sizing requirements for heating, cooling and water heating, as well as window, wall and floor area breakdowns.

Happy Client, Repeat Customer
Once your company embraces this change, the process becomes second nature and improves your firm's marketability. The building will be optimized for the best performance possible.

Exceeding your clients' expectations makes them happy and helps build a lasting relationship. It's time to change.

The author would like to acknowledge John F. Kennedy, PE -- president and CTO of Geopraxis, developers of Green Building Studio, for his efforts and contribution to this article.

About the Author: Viktor Bullain

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!