One big theme I've got this year in my classes at Autodesk University relates to interoperability between Revit, AutoCAD MEP and other external applications. Autodesk has made some strides in this area, and having tools that help us make better design decisions is always a good thing.
It's not just Autodesk - there's a lot of other vendors that have tools you can leverage with your BIM model - even some that don't need it. I'll start with my old friends at IES - Virtual Environment is still one of the best and most comprehensive building analysis tools that you can import and link your Revit model to, and we're getting ready to start learning more. The ASHRAE and LEED Navigators make studying designs easy, giving you step by step directions to make sure your designs meet their criteria. The lighting and HVAC analysis tools are easy to use, and the graphic outputs are first class. Find out more by visiting their booth at AU 2013 this year, and by visiting http://www.iesve.com/.
Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I've been taking Autodesk's Building Performance Analysis course, at http://sustainabilityworkshop.autodesk.com/bpac. This course runs you through all of science and topics regarding sustainable design practices, and how building analysis tasks such as psychometric charting, building enegy loads, thermal loads, solar radiation and more, are completed. One tool they've included is a little old school, but fairly neat. The Climate Consultant tool, from UCLA (http://www.energy-design-tools.aud.ucla.edu/) uses psychometric chart tools to determine what design strategies, based on local climate data, can give you the best results when designing for human comfort and more.
The BPA course also leverages the latest version of Autodesk's Project Vasari, which is currently in Beta 3 form and available at http://autodeskvasari.com/. This beta only runs through May, 2014 - after that, we'll see what happens next. Vasari uses a Revit style interface to bring in models, from conceptual (where it works best) to detailed building element models. The same energy modeling tools in Revit are also available here - add to it wind tunnel and wind rose tools that make for great air motion study and presentation materials, and a solar analysis tool that helps create data tables that include the tool's results.
Speaking of the energy analysis tools - Revit 2014 allows you to perform energy studies based on conceptual constructions or building elements directly from the program. The Building Elements version leverages the Green Building Studio tools to perform climate and energy costs studies, without having to go and manually define the project. This is a great time saver, and is helping our users use this tool more frequently. gbXML import is still accepted, you just need to follow the same steps that have been there for a while now - allowing you to also leverage your AutoCAD Architecture models as well.
A recent addition to the Autodesk lineup are the Simulation tools, including SIM Pro 360. This tool, which can be locally installed, or cloud-based, allows you to link architectural models directly into a project tool. This tool then allows you to perform CFD studies on the model. While it's better suited to very early conceptual models, you can use Revit models as well - just keep them broken up into chunks, and use the cloud based version as much as possible. Local crunches can get a little slow, so why waste your computer's time? Check out the offerings at http://www.autodesk.com/products/sim-360/overview.
Getting more out of your BIM model is one of the reasons why we've pushed our firm in this direction for the past few years. As the tools get faster and easier to use, they reduce the need to repeat steps during the design process - saving us time and money. Check them out - and for more detail, check out my AU courses, MP1304 - Autodesk Revit in the Process World, MP1523-L, Fast Track for AutoCAD MEP Power Users, and MP1507 - it's a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD Autodesk Revit MEP World.
One other shout out - one class I wish I could attend but can't due to scheduling conflicts is the MP2845 - Virtually Human: Modeling the Human Body Inside and Out Using BIM Platforms. Andrew Duncan and the guys from Arup use Revit tools to model the human body. Man...talk about analysis tools...instead of just structural analysis, can we get Autodesk to add these apps?
- The Carb/Fat balancing tool
- The Alcohol Consumption Stabilization app
- The Decision Making Rectification Analysis Module
- The "What Happened to my Hair" Correction Tool
I'm sure there's more - add your own here...
See you at AU 2013!