Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Sefaira for Revit offers daylighting visualizations inside Revit
August 15th, 2014 by Susan Smith
Katrina Schoen, product manager for Sefaira for Revit, spoke about the new daylighting visualizations now available for Revit users, accessed inside Revit BIM software.
What is Sefaira for Revit?
Sefaira for Revit delivers real-time building performance feedback inside Revit. Its daylighting visualizations allow designers to create spaces that take advantage of natural daylight while minimizing unwanted glare.
Schoen: The plugin also allows users to upload their Revit models to Sefaira’s online web application for energy analysis.
AECCafe Voice: How does Sefaira integrate with Autodesk Revit?
Schoen: The Sefaira for Revit plugin runs directly inside Revit. There’s no file export or upload required for daylighting visualizations. As a result, architects can investigate daylighting performance for their projects without ever leaving their primary design environment.
AECCafe Voice: Was Sefaira providing daylighting analysis outside Revit before this release?
Schoen: Yes, Sefaira offers daylighting analysis in our Sefaira for SketchUp plugin. Sefaira for SketchUp also includes other real time capabilities, including energy analysis, 2030 Challenge benchmarks, code baselines, and cloud storage for design iterations.
By providing daylighting analysis in both SketchUp and Revit, Sefaira supports one of the most common design workflows. Many architects begin the design process in SketchUp and later move into Revit; Sefaira’s daylighting visualizations can be accomplished at both stages of that process.
AECCafe Voice: Can you describe some of the ways in which architects can make more informed design decisions with this tool?
Schoen: As designers explore major decisions such as orientation, floor plate depth, floor-to-floor height, and other changes in form, Sefaira for Revit helps them to optimize daylight and reduce glare. Since glazing decisions strongly impact daylighting performance, feedback is also crucial when architects change window shape, size, and layout. By visualizing daylight inside the space, the plugin also helps architects to plan interior spaces and place internal partitions.
Instead of depending on rules of thumb, architects can use daylighting visualizations to make informed design choices. As Garrett Ferguson of Parkhill, Smith & Cooper explains, “Real time daylighting analysis allows me to make fast changes and decisions that provide even lighting and quality of light throughout a space. I can change and tweak the envelope from basic rules of thumb to better, more accurate calculations using an intuitive and easy to use software.”
Compared to traditional daylighting analysis, Sefaira for Revit better complements an architect’s workflow and modeling tools. For example, say a designer is trying to find the right shape for a window. In the past, she’d have to move to a different software application, build a new model, complete substantial setup, and wait for the simulations for each variation she wanted to test, and wait for the simulations to complete. This time-consuming activity limited her ability to investigate many options, especially within the past-faced progress of a typical design process. Since the Sefaira plugin runs inside Revit and updates in seconds, she can now obtain quick and accurate feedback on many window variations. Without leaving the design environment, she can rapidly iterate on her design to improve daylighting. Later, if she needs to adjust her glazing based on aesthetic considerations, client input, or budget, she can analyze new scenarios quickly.
AECCafe Voice: How are leading architecture firms seeing differences in their work as a result of the new daylighting analysis?
Schoen: Sefaira for Revit empowers architects to consider daylighting performance early and often, while their design evolves. Projects benefit from this early integration of performance data, because at this stage the better understanding can impact key design decisions while changes are still relatively inexpensive. Having access to performance data throughout the process thus enables architects to more reliably meet daylighting goals. Finally, they can communicate more clearly with their clients and project teams when considering different design options and justifying their final decisions.
Elizabeth Unruh, an associate at Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, summarizes the impact of early daylighting feedback for their designs: “We prioritize quality daylight and minimized glare in our designs to ensure human comfort. Real time daylight and glare analysis within Revit enables us to optimize these variables while the design is still at its most malleable by providing a compelling new layer of information that influences the design’s window to wall ratio, shading strategy, and interior finishes.”
AECCafe Voice: What are the benefits of using Radiance and DAYSIM for daylighting visualization?
Schoen: Radiance is a simulation engine that calculates light path information, and DAYSIM uses data from Radiance to determine daylight levels. By running DAYSIM in the cloud, Sefaira for Revit combines validated daylighting results with quick analysis that completes in seconds.
Sefaira for Revit uses this data to provide three separate daylighting visualizations: Time of Day, Annual Availability, and Daylight Factor. For Time of Day, users select a specific date and hour of the year to visualize natural light levels in the space. By combining hourly data for the entire year, Annual Availability shows designers how often their building achieves minimum daylight levels. This visualization can be especially helpful for getting on track to achieve thresholds required for LEED daylight credits. Additionally, users can study bright spots and glare using the annual simulation tool. Finally, Daylight Factor analysis provides feedback for overcast sky conditions, which is used to meet certain daylighting standards (particularly in Europe).