Building or constructing a house, bridge, road or any structure no matter how small or big involves quite a lot of processes, procedures, people and resources.
Sometimes these processes, procedures, people and resources are required in very small quantities and sometimes very extremely large quantities.
Never the less all those involved in the AEC (Architectural, Engineering and Construction) industries must all find, allocate and use all these processes, procedures, people and resources and most importantly combine them and other factors such as risk, management, safety etc. so as to realize what they actually want to construct and see it through till the construction process is completed.
Doing all these is quite an arduous task and this used to be a very tiring process when technology was no more than a paper, pencil and the materials, equipment used for construction and management and meetings had to be face to face.
Thanks to major advances in technological innovations players in the AEC industries can now be able to simplify these processes, procedures and combine them so as to achieve their objectives in a quicker more effective way.
One such innovation is BIM. Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been around since the 1980s and it has greatly affected the way the AEC industries operate nowadays. It is simply a software deployed to handle all the resources, people, processes and procedures and any other factor involved in the construction process.
It integrates all these factors onto one platform and enables all the people involved to have access to this software edit it, make notes, have meetings, initiate strategies, design and most importantly streamline the whole construction or building process to all involved.
OpenStudio is one of the many types of BIM software available out there in the market. This article will show why OpenStudio is the only option that players in the AEC industries should consider as their BIM platform by outlining what the users will derive in terms of its benefits, features, deployment, and support.
What is OpenStudio?
OpenStudio is a free and open platform software product developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the U.S Department of Energy.
It was first deployed in 2008 and since then has steadily reported an average of about 700 downloads per month. In the U.S.A buildings consume approximately 40% of energy. OpenStudio helps players in the construction or building industry to design buildings which are energy efficient.
It is a software application which is used to assist in building energy analysis commonly known as BEM (Building Energy Modeling).
The OpenStudio software also runs on various platforms such as Linux, Macintosh (MAC) and Microsoft Windows. OpenStudio works very brilliantly as a plug-in for the SketchUp application.
This is an advantage to most designers considering that most of them use SketchUp in designing buildings and this allows them to evaluate the performance of a building’s energy design even before the construction process starts. It also permits its users primarily engineers to view, edit models in 3D for the simulation software EnergyPlus.
It also has a parametric analysis tool, results viewer, graphic model edit tool etc. and all these can be integrated into a project and also used separately on their own as applications by the users.
Speed up application development
By using OpenStudio users are guaranteed that application development will be easy and also speeded up. This is achieved by the showing of outputs and inputs of the EnergyPlus software as dynamic and also as a data model which is object oriented with API (Application Programming Interface).
Easy integration with applications
OpenStudio has also proven to be a platform that works easily with other applications.
OpenStudio also provides its users with commonly high level abstractions such as spaces, space types etc. This is not forgetting that OpenStudio also gives its users result access and low level model.
Standard HVAC systems configuration and instantiation are some of the functionalities that OpenStudio users benefit from.
OpenStudio also allows 3rd parties to focus on the addition of separate differentiating values. It also allows them to serve their clients by providing them with a common core infrastructure. EnergyPlus, one of the few BEM engines will also work with applications via static, large and bulky files most of the times.
Users of the OpenStudio software are also able to transfer import results and inputs from other engines such as CONTAM airflow and Radiance lighting engines.
By being able to transfer import results and inputs OpenStudio is able to support a single model which is comprised of numerous analyses.
An improved version of OpenStudio was launched in 2016 December by its developers and this new version showed OpenStudio’s continued commitment to supporting developers all over the globe.
Easy and productive
OpenStudio’s latest and improved version was developed with the aim of making BEM services and applications creation and integration very easy and also increasing their productivity.
Large scale analysis support
OpenStudio has also focussed very closely on supporting large scale analysis comprising of e.g. building stock analysis, optimizing design, model input calibration etc. This in turn helps in the deciding of buildings that are able to achieve the criteria set out of specific programs hence creating savings values.
OpenStudio can be used by anyone who is involved in the design, construction and even management of a completely built facility. This means that one does not require to have a lot of expertise in using OpenStudio and a lay man is able to use it easily. Also the documentation provided by OpenStudio enables users to learn about it and it also assists them when it comes to using the platform.
OpenStudio is divided into two sectors i.e. the software development platform and the application suite. This is very helpful because it means that researchers and developers can continue working on improving the software while normal users can also continue using it for their day to day operations without any of the two affecting each other. This means that both components can be used simultaneously and this will not affect the performance of OpenStudio in any way. This is also an added benefit to the users of the program because it means that they receive any upgrades to the system as they are made available and this will also help them to improve or upgrade on their day to day operations.
OpenStudio provides its users with an interactive flow process during the design phase. It allows users to create designs and also be able to simulate these designs and be able to analyse how well the designs operate. This provides very quick feedback to the team on whether what they are creating is actually achieving its goal and if not then the team is able to use this to analyse what it can do better and hence keep on improving on the design until the ultimate goal is realised. This is very crucial because the faster this flow operates the quicker feedback is received and strategies made or amended to coincide with the received feedback.
Development in several languages
By using OpenStudio developers are able to write code in various programming languages such as C++, C# and Ruby. OpenStudio also allows developers to use an Operating System (O.S) of their choice. This means that developers are not limited in how to use OpenStudio and this means that they are not forced to deal with Operating Systems they are not familiar with rather they are allowed to operate from their strengths.
OpenStudio allows users or in this case building owners to save on the amount of energy used to power the operations of their buildings. By reducing on energy consumed within and on a building the owner is able to save on running costs and this in turn allows them the opportunity to attract customers because their rents are lower than what is offered in the marketplace and this in turn assures them of nearly full occupancy and this is allows for steady cashflows.
Cost reduction is a surety when using OpenStudio in the construction of a building and most importantly in the constant maintenance of the building.
Reduces carbon footprint
OpenStudio enables its users to reduce the carbon footprint on a personal level and also on a global scale which is in line with the new objectives in the marketplace to make the planet more favorable for living and in the process reduce the effects of global warming.
OpenStudio enables its users to build loads easily, quickly and effectively.
OpenStudio has readily available documentation which is open to anyone interested in knowing more about OpenStudio. This documentation is also very helpful when it comes to learning how to use OpenStudio.
It also supports cloud computing which in today’s world is essential for any business operating in the marketplace.
OpenStudio allows for various economic processes or procedures to be conducted via its platform.
Building 3D CAD/Geometry
With OpenStudio users are able to design and create models in 3D.
Reporting is also a key feature of OpenStudio which allows its users to keep up to date with all happening within the system.
Import and export
OpenStudio also supports the import and export from various applications and within a cloud infrastructure.
Users are also allowed to customize their controls so as to fit their needs.
OpenStudio also enables its users to have a grid view of all that happens within its infrastructure.
Sharing best practices in modeling
Users can rely on OpenStudio’s best practices and can also share these with other users. OpenStudio allows users to be able to share best practices of modeling and also to be able to access best practises from other sources.
Building constructions and materials
It is able to analyse construction sites and materials needed for construction to take place.
OpenStudio also allows users to practise daylighting. This is simply placing of windows, reflective surfaces and other openings for sunlight to support internal lighting hence assist in the reduction of energy use. All this can be achieved during the design phase. Daylighting is a key feature of OpenStudio.
Users can access other libraries which can assist them in their day to day activities.
Because OpenStudio’s main function is to assist in utilising energy effectively in a building, it also has a very important feature of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning) technology. This enables a building to have ample cooling and heating within the building and OpenStudio can help incorporate this within a building during its design stage and help owners to save on costs of installing and maintaining air conditioning equipment.
OpenStudio also guarantees its users quality assurance or quality control while working on any project.
OpenStudio equips its users with the ability to be able to analyse different parameters depending on what users are trying to ascertain. It allows parameters to be analysed in different ways and against each other or other different variables.
Location specific information
Users are able to locate and retrieve specific information so long as they are provided with the log in credentials to OpenStudio.
Analyzing existing buildings
OpenStudio is not restricted only to providing services before a building is constructed. It can also analyse the energy use of existing buildings and come up with cost saving ways of using energy within the already completed building. This usually proves to be very helpful especially when it comes to reviewing a building’s performance and also where renovation is to come into play.
OpenStudio is readily available on the company’s website for download.
Devices: Mac, Linux and Windows.
Pricing model: Free
Customer types: Small and medium businesses, freelancers and; large enterprises.
Deployment: On Premise
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