Clever use of simulation in BIM projects: This makes planning fun!

BIM (Building Information Modeling) raises high expectations for time and cost savings and for improved planning reliability. In a joint project by Amstein + Walthert with Vela Solaris and with the financial support of EnergieSchweiz, it was examined how concrete added value can be created in practice. A decisive success factor is the combination of simulation and BIM. The corresponding use case will be made publicly available through Bauen Digital Schweiz.

The demands on buildings are increasing: With consequences for planning

Today’s buildings must meet increasing requirements: They should offer a high level of comfort, convince with modern architecture and at the same time be energy-efficient and profitable to build and operate. For planning, this means that different disciplines must work closely together to ensure high planning quality. For this to succeed, two things are essential:

  • Define targets at an early stage:  From the client’s point of view, the objectives for the overall project must be available as early as possible and translated for the individual disciplines from architecture to building services engineering.
  • Enabling flexible changes to targets: If the requirements of a project change, the relevant information must be made available to the project team immediately and reliably.

This is the only way to ensure that deviations from targets are recognized by the project team and addressed at the lowest possible cost.

Simulation as a success factor for reliable planning

This is exactly where dynamic simulation of energy consumption and the satisfaction of demand by energy systems comes in. In time steps down to a second basis it is simulated how the planned energy system behaves during operation: From the heat stratification in the storage tank to the use of the solar system’s electricity production.

By means of simulation, it becomes clear at the push of a button whether a changed initial situation – caused by new requirements during the project – will lead to a deviation from the target specifications. If, for example, the usable roof area is reduced or the building use is changed, it can be simulated immediately what this means for energy consumption and energy system technology and whether adjustments are necessary. This increases the planning reliability and thus the confidence of the client in the planning.

But what does this mean in connection with BIM? What are the advantages of linking BIM with simulation? And how can processes and tools support this?

Amstein + Walthert and Vela Solaris are taking the next step. In a joint project, supported by EnergieSchweiz, the planning process was expanded in the area of model-based performance optimization and the Polysun simulation tool for process support was optimized.

Model-based performance optimization (MPO): BIM and simulation cleverly linked

The use case “Model-based Performance Optimization – MPO” from Amstein + Walthert combines the specialist areas of building simulation, energy system simulation and building services engineering planning. The main focus here is on enabling planning adjustments at any time and in frequent iterations – consistently across all specialist areas.

The MPO skilfully combines planning with simulation, taking advantage of the benefits of the BIM methodology: planners, simulation and BIM experts and project managers at Amstein + Walthert as well as experts for energy system simulation from Vela Solaris have contributed their knowledge to the MPO. The most efficient workflows and corresponding interfaces between different departments were jointly defined. This was done with the aim of enabling the seamless exchange of simulation results and thus increasing planning reliability. As a result, the MPO automatically links the required information and simulation results, documents changes and makes planning work in the BIM project more transparent. Frequent iterations of the planning and simulation results are now even easier to perform and facilitate efficient work for all project participants. 

The MPO has been successfully tested on projects currently in planning. The project team is convinced of the gained process efficiency and quality.

The Open-BIM-based use case will be published on Digital Switzerland and buildingSMART Switzerland. The MPO method is thus available to all interested parties, can be continuously improved and is easy to use.

Smart processes need smart tools

The simulation software Polysun from Vela Solaris has been successfully used by Amstein + Walthert for years for the simulation of energy systems for buildings and districts. In the joint project described here, Polysun was made BIM-capable and thus ideally supports the MPO process.

Open-BIM interfaces enable a largely automated data exchange. Simulation results are thus available to the project team at the desired location at any time and are transferred to the BIM model of the building services engineering. As a result, only time for planning has to be spent if deviations from the target values occur – the planning time is significantly reduced. Polysun also provides digital support for the evaluation of the achievement of building services engineering targets.

All simulation results remain transparently documented with Polysun BIM and provide added value right through to the operating phase – for simple quality assurance.

Energy system simulation is easy to use

With the new MPO and Polysun BIM from Vela Solaris, it will be much easier for simulation experts and planners to accurately design systems for today’s buildings. Relevant information is exchanged digitally. Tedious data quality checks are no longer necessary.

System support makes deviations from targets immediately transparent and the expertise can be directed to the essential points – for a high level of planning reliability that is convincing. This makes the use of simulation in planning a pleasure!

We would like to thank Amstein + Walthert for the great cooperation and EnergieSchweiz for the project support!

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