Revit MEP

Revit MEP

Friday, June 24, 2011

ElumTools - The first fully-integrated Add-in lighting software for Autodesk Revit

ElumTools is from Lighting Analysts, Inc. who produces calculation tools for the architectural lighting marketplace. Today, they author four design tools for the lighting industry: AGi32, Photometric Toolbox, FlashTools, and the newest addition, ElumTools, a fully integrated lighting calculation add-in for Autodesk Revit.

This new tool will be a much more efficeint way of doing point-by-point lighting calculations rather than importing 2D plans into AGI, creating 3D spaces and 3D objects that are representing the rooms in AGI, (which has already been done by the architect in Revit), so why redo that work?  Then as the model updates and changes, you have to redo all that work of reimporting the 2D autocad file, and recreate the 3D spaces and 3D objects.  That takes a lot of time.  Using a software that is an add-on of Revit, you can do the calculations right within Revit, and not have to continuously update separate models.  (Construction document Revit model, and the AGI lighting calculation model.)  Then when you make changes to your light fixtures, you make those changes in the Revit model only, (one place) instead of making the changes in the Revit model and in the AGI model. 

The growth of BIM (Building Information Modeling) software is exploding, and in many architectural design and engineering firms it is almost completely replacing CAD software for the purposes of architectural and building system design. To date, the industry standard illumination design software programs lack the ability to easily exchange information with models in the BIM environment. The reason for this is two-fold: current illumination software utilizes a complete environment approach to the calculation of illuminance, which is burdened by the large size of the BIM model, and the complexity of exported geometry from BIM is beyond the needs of practical calculation of workplane or surface illuminance. With today’s illumination design software not getting the job done, there remains a need to quickly compute basic illuminance from electric sources within individual environments in a BIM model and tabulate the results in a way consistent with the behavior of the BIM software.

What is ElumTools?
ElumTools is a calculation Add-in used to predict the performance of electric lighting systems within the Autodesk® Revit® Architecture or MEP software. With ElumTools the need to utilize external software to compute illuminance from light sources placed in Revit is no longer necessary.
When ElumTools is installed in Revit, it appears with its own tab on the top menu bar. Selecting the ElumTools tab reveals the icons for the various ElumTools commands.
How does ElumTools work?
The entire concept of ElumTools as a Revit Add-in is based around the ability to leverage content that is already present in the Revit model. Utilizing existing content from Revit allows the lighting software functionality to be simplified to only those tasks necessary for the accurate modeling of light.
The accurate calculation of illuminance on a workplane or surface requires the following components: surface geometry, surface reflectance/color, luminaire locations and luminaire photometry. ElumTools is able to extract surface geometry in the form of “Rooms” or “Spaces” as defined in Revit Architecture or MEP, or if necessary, the user can simply select the surfaces to be included in the calculation using Revit commands. Surface reflectance and color can be interpreted from the Revit “Graphics Shading” properties of the surface and “mapped” to more suitable reflectances and/or colors if desired. Luminaire locations already present in Revit can be consumed by
ElumTools and photometric file associations created if not already present.
With these elements known, ElumTools has the information required to utilize a radiosity process to compute the lighting for the selected geometry and present an interactive visualization depicting the luminous exitance of all surfaces. However, there is an additional fundamental need to allow the user to assign calculation sampling points to any surface or workplane to verify illuminance present from the Revit layout of luminaires. This is easily accomplished using ElumTools’ Calculation Points command.
With materials mapped, luminaires defined and sampling points placed, ElumTools calculation commands enable the computation of the selected geometry. Revit-defined Rooms or Spaces can be computed alone or as a group if they contribute light to one another. The computed results can then be examined in an interactive visualization window (a separate window for each Room or Space) and point-by-point results seen directly in the Revit model. Finally, all statistics are available to Revit’s scheduling tools for summary and inclusion in the BIM model.
Anatomy of a typical workflow
Manage luminaires – This is the process of assigning all of the necessary elements to each luminaire family within the Revit model that will be used for lighting calculations. Required input includes: a valid photometric file in IES format (LM-63), assignment of a light loss factor and a validity check on lumens and watts figures as retrieved from the manufacturer’s photometric file.
The ElumTools Luminaire Manager provides simple access to the necessary inputs for all luminaire families. The luminaire list can be shortened to show only luminaire families currently in use in the Revit model, if desired.
Map materialsElumTools has access to the “Graphics Color” in Revit for all materials in the model, allowing the reflectance of the surfaces to be calculated from the RGB color.* If a Revit graphics color is not an accurate color from which to calculate reflectance, it is necessary to map that surface to a different and more appropriate color. Glass and other translucent or transparent materials must also be mapped to the appropriate surface type in ElumTools for accurate lighting calculations.
The Materials Mapping feature in ElumTools is very easy to use. All Revit materials are listed on the left side of the dialog and ElumTools materials on the right. The drop-down selection in the center allows individual materials to be mapped from Revit to ElumTools and vice-versa, or ignored entirely. Additional pull-down menus allow the selection of color, reflectance, surface transparency and more (Advanced Properties button).

*As of the release of Revit 2012, the Revit Application Programmers Interface (API) provided by Autodesk does not provide access to the materials’ “Render Appearance” information. This may change in a future release providing more accurate material color and reducing the need to map some materials.
Locate point-by-point areasElumTools makes it easy to assign a grid of sampling points to your choice of surfaces and workplanes in the Revit environment. Simply select the Calculation Points command and drop an instance of the sampling points family on surfaces as required. The points will automatically attach only to the selected Revit surface. Other surfaces such as windows or doors would not be included and could be covered with another instance of the family, if necessary. Workplane calculations are simply points on the floor with an offset equal to the workplane height.
Calculate Room or Space – Rooms and Spaces are spatial placeholders created by Revit Architecture and MEP. If the Revit model does not have Room or Space designations, it is only a matter of a few clicks to add them.
ElumTools allows the calculation of either Rooms or Spaces using a single or multiple selection technique. When selecting multiple Rooms or Spaces, ElumTools allows multiple calculations to be performed simultaneously on multi-threaded processors. If separate environments may exchange light with one another, they can be computed in a single execution.
Calculate Other Geometry – Occasionally it is necessary to select all the elements to be included in a calculation independently of Revit Rooms or Spaces. ElumTools provides the capability to select all elements to be considered manually using Revit commands and compute the propagation of light within this subset.
Interactive visualizationElumTools provides a fully interactive visualization in a pop-up window as a by-product of every calculation. This rendering is designed to allow validation of lighting results (are all my luminaires included?) and a verification of the behavior of light and surface (scalloping from downlights on an adjacent wall). The visualizations are fully navigable, and additional evaluation tools are available, such as scaled pseudocolor analysis, radiosity mesh display and visibility of sampling points.
View point-by-point results in Revit – The illuminance values at all sampling points placed in the Revit model can be seen directly in Revit. The appearance of the value color can be changed using Revit’s Analysis Visualization Framework (AVF) to scale the gradient of illuminance values for improved readability.
Schedule – All illuminance statistics computed by ElumTools are available to be summarized with Revit’s schedule feature.
Exceedingly simple & efficient
The concept of computing the lighting results directly within the Revit environment using a Space by Space (or Room by Room) methodology fosters a fast and efficient workflow, removing the long calculation times associated with the whole-environment approach of external software. Designers can utilize the software as a design tool on an iterative basis as needed. Point-by-point results provide validation of required lighting criteria, and interactive draft visualizations yield an understanding of the lighting system only possible with radiosity rendering.

Unlike many of today’s all-encompassing lighting simulation programs, the ElumTools software is exceptionally intuitive, streamlined and approachable. By design, the software can be productive for any Revit user with basic lighting knowledge, and very little if any training is required.

ElumTools Licensing
For the initial release ElumTools is available in a single user license configuration only. A single user license can be installed on one computer at a time. Once registered, ElumTools is licensed to that computer only. This is a perpetual license for use with Revit 2012 only.

Subscription Plan
ElumTools is sold initially with a free one-year membership to the subscription plan. This means all product releases are available for download from your account at no charge until one year from your purchase date. At that point you may elect to renew the subscription plan to continue to receive product releases.