FormIt + Revit + Insight = Bye Bye SketchUp + Sefaira

In the past, working in the schematic design phase, there were usually two major tools being used: SketchUp and Sefaira. From the stand point of trying to use Autodesk tools at this stage we just didn’t have the tools to get the job done. Today, time has changed, using FormIt + Revit + Insight = a comprehensive Autodesk solution from schematic design tools that includes an energy model performance life cycle.

The above image shows different phases of work done in FormIt – from simple massing to a conceptual model – from analytical studies to presentation images.

  • On the left – Massing studies with Levels for area analysis and Solar Analysis for quick solar impact studies.
  • In the middle is the traditional realistic materials and entourage which create a compelling presentation image for conceptual design phase – you can even use Dynamo scripts to speed the development of storefront and paneling systems!
  • On the right is a more stylistic rendering that you can achieve with Monotone surfaces, ambient and traditional shadows, extended edges, and lower contrast lines

I’m sure a lot of have been watching from the side lines looking at FormIt along with Insight. I will admit it has taken Autodesk a little bit to catchup but what has recently happened is Autodesk’s design/energy tools have flown on-by and sped away from the competition.

This new approach is going to be quite a change for a lot of my clients but the ones that adapt and take on the new approach are going to reap these new benefits. So, what are these new benefits?

First, no more throw away model, using FormIt we can bring in existing SketchUp entourage like trees, people, etc. to enhance the FormIt model. So, your existing SketchUp content can be reused! What is great is the materials and layers all come across, so all that time that you spent getting those materials to look great will keep looking great in FormIt, and going into Revit! (coming soon, wink, wink)

Second, a true energy model performance life cycle! Insight’s energy analysis and benchmarks are based a tried and true DOE-2, Energy PLUS, gbXML Certified, and ASHRAE 140 Validation engines. As the schematic model gets more defined you will see for the first time an actual “energy performance range”. Confirming your original design charrette at the very start of the design, and as it progresses to design development, and further as needed.

Insight has many unique features that set it apart from other tools that are available. As a whole, it’s more than just energy modeling; Insight provides a guided approach to improving energy and environmental performance, while leveraging architectural geometry.

Energy performance—as a range

  • Accounts for design opportunities & operational uncertainty
  • Get clear direction on the value of design decisions

Geometry is no longer a barrier

  • Leverage existing architectural geometry—complete or in progress. No remodeling, cleaning, or throw away modeling. Insight supports a variety of authoring practices.
  • Accurate and representative results for simple and complex models. It’s okay if the model is not watertight or has imperfections. The energy model created by FormIt or Revit will provide an accurate representation of your model with minimal effort.

Actionable feedback guides design decisions

  • Understand what design factors will impact performance the most
  • Set reasonable and achievable goals

Understand and optimize performance throughout the design process. Get performance feedback when you need it, not when your model is ready. It doesn’t matter where you are in the design process, Insight will get you the information you need, when you need it.

Insight is included in the Building Design Suite, and AEC Collection. It requires Revit 2016 or above, and the Insight plugin for in context visual analyses. Anyone can access sample projects at, no login required. Simply type in their email address, and they will get an invitation to join your project. This is a great way to involve clients, owners, and other stakeholders who might not have access to Revit, but want to be part of the process.

I hope this helps everyone understand that we have a new workflow in schematic design to design development that not only includes the design model but also the energy model. Finally, the paradigm of throw-away models can be sent to the trashcan!

Watch the Video Here: LINK


Posted in Autodesk Revit/BIM, BIM Strategy, Early Design, Sustainability | Leave a comment

New Insight Plugin Features Daylight Autonomy

In my Autodesk University class “Design Strategies with FormIt 360” I showed how to use FormIt 360, Revit, and Insight 360 to understand how efficient your schematic design model was, including your facade design. LINK

When you upgraded to Revit 2017.1, there was a new Energy Optimization panel added that provides access to energy analysis capabilities of Insight. The new plugin will update the Insight panel with EnergyPlus heating and cooling loads, solar analysis, and new lighting analysis options. In addition to previous LEED and custom style lighting and daylighting analyses, you can now study daylight autonomy (specifically LEED v4 EQc7 opt1) and direct solar access.

You can look at the additional workflows here:
Solar Access Workflow LINK

Da & ASE Workflow LINK

The new plug-in can be found here: LINK

Posted in Early Design, Sustainability | Leave a comment

Top Speaker at Autodesk University!

To my surprise I was awarded Top Speaker for Autodesk University this year!

We’ve tallied the results of nearly 10,000 surveys and we’re excited to announce this year’s top rated speakers. But first, we want to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to respond—we really appreciate your input. In addition to deciding who takes home top honors, your answers also help us plan for next year and find new ways to make each AU better than the last, because improvement is our middle name. (No really, our full name is “Autodesk Improvement University.” Ask our mom.)

And of course, an even bigger thank you to all our 2016 speakers—you make AU what it is and we couldn’t do what we do without you. You’re all winners in our books.

AU Las Vegas 2016 Speaker Awards:

Best Hands-on Lab (tie)
Michael Massey
Schedules Can’t Do That in Revit 2017

David Butts
Perfecting the System for Revit

Michael Massey and David Butts tied for Best Hands-on Lab, which isn’t anything like giving away honors just for showing up. Right on their heels were KaDe King (2nd) and Rick Ellis (3rd) who continue to showcase some of AU’s best expertise.

Best Lecturer (Industry Talk or Panel)
Shawnee Finlayson
The Undeniable Benefits of Parametrics: A Stadium-Design Case Study

Shawnee Finlayson edged out fan favorites Robert Green (2nd) and Marcello Sgambelluri (3rd) for Best Lecturer. Not to give it away, but she also took home some valuable recognition as a first-time presenter at AU. We couldn’t be more impressed.

Best Instructional Demo
Jarod Schultz
Design Strategies with FormIt 360

Unseating the champ is no small feat, but that’s just what Jarod Schultz did with his terrific AU session. Marcello Sgambelluri (2nd) and Matthew Stachoni (3rd) both demonstrated excellence in AU Instructional Demos.

Best Roundtable
Curt Moreno
The Keys to Building Better Client Relationships Through Communication

Curt Moreno took relationship building to the next level. When he did that, he showcased something special about AU and all involved. Steven Shell (2nd) and Frank Mayfield (3rd) did the same with their efforts to drive collaborative learning.

Rookie of the Year
Shawnee Finlayson
The Undeniable Benefits of Parametrics: A Stadium-Design Case Study

Rumor has it, Shawnee Finlayson put months into her prep work. It showed. We can only imagine the kinds of contributions she’s making in her daily structural practice, or what she has in store. She’s just 1 of the many new members we added to our AU community of experts this year. We hope she inspires others.

Congratulations to all our winners! We’ll be posting more of the top rated speakers and classes on our social media channels in the coming days and weeks, so stay tuned and keep your learning hats on.

Posted in Autodesk Revit/BIM, Early Design, Software Tips and Tricks | Leave a comment