[Sbse] Alternative to Safaira

Rysanek, Adam arysanek at sala.ubc.ca
Fri Oct 2 09:55:48 PDT 2020

Hi Stefano,

It depends on the extent to which you want to dive into all the outputs of building energy modelling.
However, for teaching students who do not have experience with 3D modelling and have a steep learning curve to energy models like Sefaira or other plug-ins, I use Design Explorer and similar design space exploration tools.

In the case of Vancouver, we already have a free online Design Explorer-like tool for these explorations of typical residential building types in the city:

For other cities, I have created a Rhino/Grasshopper/ARCHSIM (now ClimateStudio) model that allows me to run exhaustive parametric simulations ex-ante, and load them into a Design Explorer case. This gives a very simple, fast, and effective interface to understand the trade-offs between design interventions and simulated performance without running an energy model itsef. It has a bit of a larger front-end cost (in instructor/TA hours) to prepare these, but I’ve preferred them for giving students a way to run simple evaluations when the course is not in a position to teach how-to-use-an-energy-model.

Overall, hats off to the Solemma team (you know you are!) for building these new Grasshoper plugins that have really been effective for teaching energy modelling to students, including non-architects. I’ve had success teaching undergraduate students how to export their Sketchup models to Rhino simply in order to execute an ARCHSIM/Climate Studio energy model. It does depends on whether you have a Rhino license for your students and an apetite for it. We do here at UBC.


From: SBSE <sbse-bounces at uidaho.edu> on behalf of Stefano Schiavon <schiavon at berkeley.edu>
Date: Friday, 2 October 2020 at 9:27 AM
To: "sbse at uidaho.edu" <sbse at uidaho.edu>
Subject: [Sbse] Alternative to Safaira

[CAUTION: Non-UBC Email]
Hi All,

Gail and I teach an introduction to energy and environment for undergraduate students. It is not a professional architectural program, and ~1/3 of the students do not have 3D software skills. Topics include climate analysis, energy flows in buildings, thermal properties of building materials, thermal comfort, solar shading, daylighting, passive heating and cooling, indoor air quality, acoustics, and mechanical systems.

In the past, we used Safaira during lab time and for the final design project to perform some simple energy estimations. We explored the effects of building rotation, changes in the wall assembly, shading devices, windows property, and infiltration rate). It seems that Safaira is not free anymore. Do you know when this change happened and if exceptions are allowed?

Do you have any suggestions for alternative software?


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