Students develop software tool for assessing building characteristics

Mark Clayton

Mark Clayton

Students developed a software tool that can determine a building’s potential energy use from its design, as well as its rainwater harvesting potential and many other characteristics as part of a fall 2012 graduate architecture class led by Mark Clayton, professor of architecture at Texas A&M.

Students created plugins for Revit API, a leading building information modeling software application, which can extract data and calculate energy-related information from a building's design. Teaching assistant Mohammed Asl, a Ph.D. architecture student, aided the students' effort.

“Asl did an excellent job teaching the students to use Revit API and the students produced excellent projects,” said Clayton. “With further work, skills developed by the students could lead to wonderful research tools addressing healthcare facilities, urban design, construction planning, sustainable design, and even explorations of aesthetics.”

A plugin designed by one of Clayton's students, Chunliu Mao, provides a simulated performance of the energy code compliance of a single-family residential dwelling by exporting data from Revit to the International Code Compliance Calculator, a web-based software tool developed by Texas A&M’s Energy Systems Laboratory.

The plug-in transfers data including a design’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, ceiling area and window size from Revit to the ICC calculator.

A plugin designed by another student, Oleksander Tanskyi, estimates a building's potential electrical production from photovoltaic cells, based on the structure's location and the type and orientation of its solar panels.

Student Xuequio Han created a plugin that estimates a building's construction costs per square foot.

Students Eric Henderson and Kevin Walsh developed a rainwater calculator that estimates how much rainwater can be collected from a building’s roof on an annual or quarterly basis, depending on its size and geographic location.

Student Amger Holden-O’Donnell’s plugin searches a Revit model for points on a structure and compares the points to the golden ratio, a standard proportion for width’s relation to height used in architecture and art for centuries.

A program that analyses the physical relationship of patients’ rooms to nursing stations was developed by student Fang Xu. The information could guide data-informed decisions about nursing station staffing, ultimately improving patient outcomes and staff efficiency.

posted February 4, 2013