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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Opinion: FormIt + Revit + Insight = Bye Bye SketchUp & Sefaira

From LinkedIn:

Published on April 5, 2017

By Jarod Schultz
B4B/AEC Technologist & Consultant | Workflow/Process Strategist | Software Development & Technical Writer

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 insight360.autodesk.com, 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



There's more information available on LinkedIn.

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