July 05, 2010
Climate and the Built Environment – Bio-Climatic Analysis
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Climate and the Built Environment - Bio-Climatic Analysis

By Susan Smith


The newly released version 6.1 of Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) software suite includes among other features, a new Bio-Climatic feature within VE-Gaia.


Richard Quincey, Technical Director for IES, filled in AECWeekly on the importance of bio-climatic analysis and the features of the Bio-Climatic feature in version 6.1.


AECWeekly: What is Bioclimatic analysis?


In architecture there is a persistent organic theme of using the environment to inform built form, both urban and building; obviously vernacular architecture does this intuitively, but in the latter half of the 20th century people have explored this theme such that cause and effect are explained.




Greatest interest in this has occurred at times of energy crisis. Now with climate change, there is demand for solutions that are climate responsive and climate adaptive. Some of this subject is taught in universities so it has a familiarity and attractiveness, especially to architects; indeed some of our testing was done with students and younger professionals.


The reason why this theme has not been leveraged extensively in the past is that it is very broad and deep and the logic is somewhat fuzzy. Manually doing it properly is complex, difficult and very time consuming. Thus few have been able to master it and turn it to everyday use; however the desire is still there.


IES have researched the subject globally and developed the logic to a level where we can automate it.


AECWeekly: What is the tool?


This release is the first version of this feature:
  • It is one of the tools in the evolving VE Gaia product
  • It is used in conjunction with other Gaia tools to provide a rich source of knowledge about weather / climate data and the built environment
  • It delivers complex knowledge and analysis about what maybe appropriate design strategies by providing a detailed list of suggestions appropriate to the specific climate data chosen (let's be clear as well that this works on any dataset, it is not a static lookup)

  • AECWeekly: What does it do?


    It carries out a number of analyses that are very time consuming and difficult to do manually:
  • ASHRAE climate classification analysis on the dataset
  • Koppen Geiger climate classification analysis on the dataset
  • Mahoney comfort stress analysis (used a lot in hotter countries)
  • Annual hourly weather stat analysis; which month(s) hottest, wettest, coldest, peaks, percentiles, diurnal range, degree data analysis etc
  • It includes over 2000 global locations in a rainfall database
  • It uses approximately 220 separate multi-variable logic tests using these direct and derived metrics

  • AECWeekly: What is it used for?


    We have been using the product to rapidly understand the impact of climate on built form at a very early stage in design - you just need a location! It is simply a matter of a mouse click! It provides a valuable set of ideas or suggestions that one can use as a checklist of ideas.


    It is instructive to look at how we have used it:
  • To get to grips with new global locations / very different climates e.g. London and Bombay;
  • To understand the differences between different locations in a similar climate e.g. London and Manchester;
  • To understand the differences between urban situation or heat island effect e.g. city, suburbs, country, coast, etc.
  • To explore how climate change causes change in built form response. This is important as sustainable designs must last 100 years plus and the basic building form must be appropriate. This is increasingly going to become an issue as sustainable design matures;
  • To explore and understand vernacular clues;
  • As a teaching tool.

  • AECWeekly: What does it report?


    The feature produces a report that works in sections starting from a summary of the climate through headline design priorities, urban design and then built form right down to the level of insulation, thermal mass and window arrangements.


    Obviously it does not know your site or building, but its purpose is to provide a lexicon of ideas and responses - it is up to the user to explore and apply further and to this end references are also given where possible to the best detail knowledge sources.


    It has been tested on many locations in Australia, India, USA, Europe against independent & vernacular advice.


    AECWeekly: How does Bio-Climatic Analysis interface with CAD or BIM programs such as Revit?


    The Bio-Climatic feature is part of VE-Gaia. VE-Gaia users (and in fact users of any of our tools) can interface with CAD or BIM programs such as Revit or SketchUp using our plug-ins, or via our gbXML/DXF import capabilities. For more information visit the
    website . With regards to weather data and the plug-ins, there are a number of weather files linked to the 'set location' function which will be used as default. However, there is the facility to change the file as many times as the user likes once the model has been imported into VE-Gaia.



    Top News of the Week


    Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced the release of StormCAD V8i (SELECTseries 2) United Kingdom, a localized version of the easy-to-use StormCAD software employed by thousands of engineers around the world to analyze and design storm sewer networks. StormCAD helps designers automate the optimization of pipe and inlet sizes and invert elevations, and facilitates calculations for catchments, gutters, inlets, conduit networks, and outfalls. In addition, its intuitive interface simplifies both design and analysis, and its many time-saving features allow project teams to focus more on engineering and decision making. The hydraulics and hydrology in the new release (also
    called StormCAD for U.K.) comply with the stormwater modeling requirements of the United Kingdom.


    Dassault Systemes' free* software and start working with your DWG files. Then start sharing, connecting and interacting with the 3DSwYm DraftSight community members.

    DraftSight is a professional-grade, open 2D CAD product for users who want a better way to read, write and share DWG files. DraftSight is easy to use and is available for professional CAD users, students and educators to download and activate for free.*


    Autodesk, Inc. unveiled a family of software suites for visual, factory and plant design. The new suites will offer increased functionality, interoperability and provide users with a superior user experience through a simpler, more cost-effective purchasing and deployment process.


    The suites for visual, plant and factory design are the first releases of the new family of design suites aimed to address industry workflows. The design suites will provide strong interoperability between the products, and a range of capabilities for design and visualization.


    Autodesk, Inc. announced the availability of Autodesk Topobase 2011 products and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise 2011 software, new tools that help customers manage infrastructure assets more effectively and plan for the future. With these products, infrastructure professionals can get a broader understanding of the location and status of their assets and more easily share information over the web.


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