Building Enclosure Modeling: BIM Techniques, Climate, and the Smaller Firm

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Here’s a summary for a seminar I’ve submitted, which I hope to present at the Graphisoft BIM 2017 North America User Conference and the AIA 2017 National Convention. Please let me know your thoughts and follow my blog as the topic develops.


By understanding the basic principles of effective building enclosures and applying BIM techniques smaller firms can improve analysis during design development and more clearly communicate enclosure requirements in their construction documents, thereby improving quality assurance and diminishing their professional risk.

Session Description

Building enclosure failures are common. Moisture problems are more likely to land you in court than structural issues. Mold is gold. What can you do? Understand the principles of effective enclosure design. Model it. Educate the team. This presentation will review the basic principles of building science in relation to thermal and moisture control. It will then explain how to use tools within ARCHICAD to model and illustrate thermal characteristics, drainage planes, air barriers, and vapor retarders within building enclosures. Specific ARCHICAD concepts include Building Materials, Priority Based Connections, Composites, Custom Profiles, Graphical Overrides, Selection Criteria, and Energy Evaluation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the basic principles of effective building enclosures in relation to thermal and moisture control.
  2. Establish priorities for the intersections of materials within the building enclosure.
  3. Identify and model the typical assemblies and intersections within the building enclosure.
  4. Demonstrate proper construction techniques in 3D using whole building models, assembly sequences, and cutaway details.

I’m Back!


Building Enclosure Modeling

I’m back with a new mission: To marry my two biggest technical obsessions—BIM and building enclosure design. Call it building enclosure modeling, which has just begun to emerge as a topic for building science and the AEC industry.

Tempus Fugit

A lot has changed in ARCHICAD. We now capitalize the whole name. There have been 4 upgrades. Some great new functionality has been added—Priority Based Connections, Building Materials, Energy Evaluation Improvements, 3D Documents, Integrated CineRender Engine, Tab-Based Navigation, Graphical Favorites,  and Graphic Overrides. My old favorite the Element ID can now have 2,048 characters, quite an improvement from 15, meaning more descriptive, less cryptic naming. All good.

I’ve been busy, especially with the Building Enclosure Council. I spent two years as Vice Chair and then two more as Chair of the Charleston Chapter, which included a stint on National Building Enclosure Council Board and National Advisory Board Member for BETEC (Building Enclosure Technology & Environment Council a unit the National Institute for Building Sciences).

I’ve met a lot of smart people. I’ve been to numbers of national conferences. Lots of exciting things going on.

I got Jared Banks, whom you ARCHICAD probably know from Shoegnome, to come to Charleston in 2014 as the featured speaker for the BIM Bang! Symposium, co-sponsored by our local Building Enclosure Council and CSI.

I’ve appeared on a panels at Graphisoft BIM 2015 North America User Conference and the AIA 2016 National Convention with Jared and two other ARCHICAD power users: Patrick May and Ken Adler.

What’s Next?

….So, I’m re-engaging my blog with two renewed purposes. First, I’m seeking to develop more rigorous methods of modeling effective building enclosures in general. Second, I’ll be developing content for two seminars I’ve submitted, which I hope to present at the Graphisoft BIM 2017 North America User Conference and the AIA 2017 National Convention. I’ll be blogging on building science as well as BIM, but always with a focus on the building enclosure.