The VI-Suite is an addon for the Blender 3D content creation application that functions as a pre/post processor for the Radiance and EnergyPlus building simulation tools as well as offering various building context analyses. The VI-Suite, like Blender, Radiance, EnergyPlus and OpenFOAM, is free, open-source and multi-platform. The VI-Suite is deeply integrated with Blender and this offers a number of integrated capabilities:
- Blender’s node system is used to offer a flexible and user-friendly interface,
- Blender’s advanced material and geometry specification tools are used to define building geometry
- Blender’s animation system is used to offer parametric as well as static analyses.
- Blender’s text editor is used to manually edit simulation input files and write custom functions.
- Blender’s video sequence editor is used to create animations of parametric analyses.
- Blender’s material system is used to create scene based visualisation of results.
- Blender’s OpenGL interface is used to create heads-up-displays of information.
In addition the VI-Suite uses matplotlib for 2D result plotting and Kivy for simulation monitoring.
As of version 0.6 the VI-Suite offers:
- 2D plotting of weather data from EnergyPlus weather files.
- Dynamic sun path creation with real-time shading and physically based lighting based on date and time.
- Wind rose creation and 2D plotting of wind data.
- Shadow study analysis on any geometry within the scene with scene based visualisation and 2D plotting of results.
- Static and parametric Radiance analyses for the simulation and visualisation of:
- Daylight factor, illuminance and irradiance.
- Compliance testing against BREEAM, RIBA 2030 and LEEDv4 standards.
- Climate Based Daylight Modelling metrics such as daylight availability, useful daylight illuminance and annual sunlight exposure.
- Luxhour and kiloWatthour exposure.
- Glare using evalglare.
- Artificial lighting based on IES files.
- Creation and visualisation of Radiance BSDFs.
- Photon maps using Radiance’s photon mapping capability.
- Static and parametric EnergyPlus analyses for the simulation and visualisation of:
- Building temperatures and heating/cooling consumption.
- Node-based complex natural ventilation networks.
- Internal air quality
- An experimental node interface to EnergyPlus’ EMS program infrastructure.
- Static mesh generation (with Netgen) and an interface to OpenFOAM for detailed airflow analysis (Linux only).
- Most types of result data can be visualised within the Blender scene, plotted or exported to CSV file for subsequent visualisation.
Future blog posts on this site will contain tutorial videos covering various aspects and capabilities of the VI-Suite. All the tutorial videos for the v0.6 release of the VI-Suite will be placed in a YouTube playlist as time goes on.
The Download page of this blog contains download links for the latest version and user-manual. Links to the github code repository can also be found there where bug reports should be posted. The VI-Suite is released under a GPL version 2 license.
Support requests should be posted to the VI-Suite Google Group. Comments can also be left here or on the relevant blog post.
An article describing the VI-Suite has been published in ‘Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards’. As the article is open-access a link to the full text can be downloaded here. The article reference can be used to cite the VI-Suite in research work.
The bibtex formatted reference can be downloaded here
Although every attempt is made to make the VI-Suite as stable as possible the current version (0.6) should be considered beta software and bugs do still exist. Bug reports are however most welcome. As such the VI-Suite comes with no warranty and the accuracy of the results generated are the responsibility of the user.
Having said that the VI-Suite does strive to create a flexible, powerful, comprehensive and user-friendly set of tools for the performance analysis of buildings, and I hope you find it useful.
The creation of the VI-Suite would not be possible without the work of the Blender Foundation, and many thanks go to them for creating and distributing Blender.
Thanks also go to:
- The University of Brighton for part funding this work with a sabbatical award.
- The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory for creating Radiance.
- The US Department of Energy for creating EnergyPlus
- OpenCFD Ltd for releasing OpenFOAM as open-source software.
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory for providing Radiance and EnergyPlus binaries
- The Matplotlib team, and John Hunter in particular, for creating and releasing matplotlib.
- The Kivy Organization for releasing the UI framework Kivy.