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Workflow for schematic models


Insight can also be used to analyze the building performance of detailed building element models that you’ve created in Revit. These building element models can be created by converting the surfaces of a conceptual mass model, placing new Revit elements, or a combination of both of these methods.

As a first step in analyzing building element models, you can use Schematic Types to describe the thermal properties of the building surfaces. Schematic Types specify the constructions to be used for the different categories of elements in your model, overriding the Conceptual Types used to describe the surface properties in conceptual models.


This video shows the workflow for creating a Building Element model and conducting a basic energy analysis using Schematic Types.

Workflow Steps:

Download project

If you already have a developed building element model and would like to work with it, open that Revit model, and skip ahead to the Set Project Location step in this lesson.

Create Building Elements from Conceptual Model Mass Faces

  • If the mass is not visible in the selected view, show the mass form:
  • Click the Massing & Site tab in the ribbon
  • Open the Show Mass by View Settings drop-down menu and choose Show Mass Form and Floors 

You can create wall, floor, or roof elements by modeling them using the create tools on the Architecture tab or by using the Model by Face tool on the Massing & Site tab. 

  • It is typically best to start by converting the mass floors in your conceptual model into Revit building elements.
    • Click the Massing & Site tab and open the Floor by Face tool.
    • Choose a floor type from the Type Selector in the Properties palette.
    • Select one or more mass floors; then click Create Floor.
  • Next, convert the upper surface of the mass to a roof.
    • Click the Massing & Site tab and open the Roof by Face tool.
    • Choose a roof type from the Type Selector in the Properties palette.
    • Select the upper surface in the mass model; then click Create Roof.
  • Next, convert the vertical faces to wall or curtain wall elements.
    • Click the Massing & Site tab and open the Wall by Face tool.
    • Choose a wall type from the Type Selector in the Properties palette.
    • Select the Location Line to be used for placing the new wall element.
    • Select each vertical mass face in the model.

As you click each face that surface will be converted into a wall element. 

  • Finally, add doors, windows, and curtain walls to complete the envelope of the building element model.

Open the Building Element Model

  • Open the Building Model - Simple L Building Revit model. This is a completed example of a building element model that could be developed from the conceptual mass model during the last step.

Set Project Location

  • Go the Analyze tab and open the Location tool.
  • Choose to Define Location by:  Internet Mapping Service.
  • Enter an address; for example, Miami, Florida, and then click Search.
  • Select the Location.

If multiple locations match your search, you may need to select one from the pop-up menu that appears. Also, if a list of weather stations appears, select the closest one or the one with the most similar conditions to the project location. 

  • Click OK to apply settings.

Set Energy Settings

  • On the Analyze tab, open Energy Settings.
  • Select the applicable mode:
    • Use Building Elements.
    • Use Conceptual Masses and Building Elements.
  • Choose Project Phase if one is not already selected.
Note : If Revit reports an error indicating that there are no building elements available in the selected phase, verify that the phase where you have modeled your design is selected. For most new projects, this phase is New Construction.   
  • Open the Advanced Energy Settings, for Other Options, by clicking Edit.
  • In the Advanced Energy Settings dialog, select building type:
    • Choose the building type for this model that matches your assumptions about the building usage and operating schedule.

Select Schematic Types to set Thermal Properties for Building Elements

  • In the Advanced Energy Settings dialog, open Schematic Types to override the Conceptual Types used in conceptual analysis.
    • Select the cell labeled <Building>
    • Then, click the action button (three dots) at the right end of the cell.
  • In the Schematic Types dialog, turn on the Override check box for each category for which the thermal properties will be defined by choosing an analytic construction.  For example, override and change these categories by choosing values from the drop-down list available for each category:
    • Roofs: R-30 over roof deck - cool roof (U=0.0307 BTU/h.ft2.ºF))
    • Exterior Walls: R-19 metal frame wall
    • Slabs: Slab edge R-10 insulation
    • Exterior Windows: Large single glazed windows

 As you view the analytical constructions available, note that the relevant thermal properties – such as U-Values for all surfaces and SHGC for glazed surfaces – are displayed for each of the constructions. 

Note : To select Override for all categories, click All. To unselect all, click None. 
  • Click OK to apply Schematic Types settings.
  • Click OK twice to apply energy settings to the model.

Generate Insight

  • Go to the Analyze tab and click Generate tool located in the Energy Optimization panel.
    • If the energy model has not already been created, accept the prompt to create it now.
    • If the energy model already exists, choose whether to use the existing model or generate a new one.

In Revit, the Generate tool is part of the Insight Revit plugin, which installs in the Analyze tab and can be downloaded from the Insight website

  • Click OK to send the energy model to the cloud for analysis.

If you receive a message indicating the energy model cannot run successfully, try deleting extraneous detail from your model.  Look for elements that add geometric complexity, but will have minimal impact on the energy performance such as:

  • Interior walls or half walls separating spaces that are in the same thermal zone
  • Site surfaces (parking lots, walkways, patios)
  • Stairs and shaft openings

Access Results

  • Go to the Analyze tab and click Optimize to access the results in the Insight interface.

You can also access the Energy Analysis results by logging into the website and selecting INSIGHTS. Logging in to the website does not require you have Revit open.  On the web site, navigate to and open your project.  New projects appear in the All Uncategorized Insight. 

Set Preferences for an Insight

  • Click Back to Insight to exit this specific project.
  • On the right panel, select Settings and change the following:
    • Default units: Imperial.
    • Roll-up: Energy Use Intensity (EUI)
    • Sort the Model widgets by importance: Yes
    • Currency & Utility Rates: select USD ($) from the drop down menu.

When you return to your project, note that the values, ranges, and units will reflect your preferences.

Set the Baseline Assumptions and Save as a Scenario

  • Select the tile for your project to reopen it.
  • Set a range or value for the following Factors:Select the Add Scenario button at the top right of the model viewer.Click the action button (the three dots to the right of the Untitled Scenario name), then choose Rename from the pop-up menu to change the name of this scenario.Set the name of this scenario to Baseline Scenario.
    • Operating Schedule: 12/6
    • Lighting Efficiency: 0.7 – 0.3 W/sf
    • Plug Loads Efficiency: 0.6 W/sf

In the model history, note the large difference in the EUI mean (or Annual Cost mean) created by adjusting these baseline scenario settings to accurately reflect these known values.



In this exercise, you are going to use the workflow that was shown to you in the previous video. You are going to use the mixed-used retail and office center.
We will walk you through changing some of the settings; then, we will ask you some questions as to how you got to your results and what they mean.

Follow the steps outlined below: 

  1. Download Data Sets: Revit Model - Mixed-Use Building_Conceptual.rvt and Revit Model - Mixed-Use Building.rvt
  2. Open the Mixed-Use Building_Conceptual model and set project location.
    • Change Project Address to Minneapolis, MN
    • Select Weather Station 32579
  3. For the first energy simulation, run the baseline settings.
    • Set the Energy Settings to the following:
      • Mode: Use Conceptual Masses and Building Elements
      • Building Type: Retail
    • Generate Insight
  4. Open the second model in Revit.
  5. Open the Location tool and set Project Location
    • Change Project Address to Minneapolis, MN
    • Select Weather Station 32579
  6. For the second energy simulation, run an energy analysis.  
    • Set the Energy Settings to the following:
      • Mode: Use Conceptual Masses and Building Elements
      • Building Type: Retail
  7. Go to Insight
  8. Create Insight to compare models
    • Create a new Insight and add the last two submitted models to this Insight for comparison.
    • Open the Insight you have just created by selecting the tile.
  9. Open one of the models and create the baseline
    • Set a range or value for the following factors:
      • Operating Schedule: 12/7
      • HVAC System: ASHRAE Heat Pump
      • Lighting Efficiency: 0.3 – 0.7 W/sf
      • Plug Load Efficiency: 0.6 W/sf
    • Save this scenario and rename it as Baseline
  10. Select Back to Insight
  11. In the Model Comparison panel, select the baseline scenario and compare the performance of simulation.