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New Energy Cost Range provides a single, simple indicator of potential building energy use and the key factors that influence it

October 23, 2014

The Autodesk Building Performance Analysis team is very excited to announce new releases of the Energy Cost Range (ECR); a feature first introduced on FormIt for iOS, is now also available Revit , Vasari, and on the web.

These new capabilities build upon, and extend beyond those in FormIt by using the actual Revit or Vasari Building Information Model data and multiple whole building energy simulations run by Green Building Studio and configured by Project Solon, all in the cloud. These features are essentially our response to requests for a more intuitive and interactive way to convey building energy use and the role of key information and consequences of design decisions.

Presenting energy usage as a range of operating costs is a first of its kind. The range shows the mean, minimum, and maximum energy cost from batch runs of whole building energy simulations for a range of typical design and operational factors. The information is presented in a way that encourages interaction to see the cause and effect of each factor in real time so that you can quickly appreciate opportunities for higher performance. The reason for focusing on energy cost is mainly because it can be more easily appreciated by a larger number of people, and speaks more directly to owner value. Furthermore, as a range this better represents more of the reality of building energy simulation and helps mitigate risk and manage client expectations relative to actual building energy use and savings.

The ECR also includes the Architecture 2030 benchmark for your project. This benchmark provides a way to understand the relative performance of your project by comparing to this popular target. The Architecture 2030 benchmark is calculated as a percentage (currently 60%) of real historical building energy use gathered from extensive surveys, and is a target which is aggressive but still achievable. The ECR automatically retrieves the Architecture 2030 Target using ENERGY STAR’s EPA Target Finder calculator, then translates the energy targets to energy cost targets using the project energy cost and fuel type distribution. For more detailed results, you can refer to the ENERGY STAR results and the raw simulation energy results in Green Building Studio.

Of course any result presented as single number, or even as a range, is only as useful as your knowledge of the inputs used in the energy simulation. In that respect the ECR contains, and is ultimately driven by individual ‘factors,’ each of which relate to different aspects of building features that influence building energy use. These factors include a range of lighting efficiencies, roof and wall constructions, widow glass, etc., that you might choose to specify for your building design.

The web ECR, shown above, is based on the same set of pre-computed DOE2 whole building energy simulations as the ECR in FormIt. The Energy Cost Range dynamically updates as you enter more information about your project, such as building type, location, and building features. Click on the image to see a video demonstration.

With the Revit ECR it is possible to customize the values of these factors and the simulations that feed it using the Green Building Studio Project Solon platform. Refer to our previous blog posting for more information, including quick steps to start using Project Solon: Autodesk Green Building Studio’s Latest Release: Project Solon Runsets for Revit and Vasari.


The ECR tool in Revit, shown above, displays total energy costs per area per year in US dollars for your building design. Selecting different ranges of alternatives within the ECR window dynamically changes the estimated costs in real-time. Click on the image to see a video demonstration.

The ECR is currently available from within Revit, Vasari, FormIt, and your web browser – each with slightly different capabilities and purpose.

  • The Revit ECR uses actual Building Information Model data from your model to run multiple parallel (DOE2) whole building energy simulations varying a wide range of key design factors.
  • The FormIt ECR is based on hundreds of thousands of pre-computed DOE2 whole building energy simulations run for climate zones all over the world, a range of different building forms, types and systems. Note that the ECR in FormIt at this time does not simulate the actual FormIt model geometry.
  • The ECR web view is similar to that in FormIt in that it is based on the same set of pre-computed DOE2 whole building energy simulations however its factors extend beyond those in FormIt to include factors similar to those included in the Revit ECR. Note at this stage the web ECR is currently available as a technology demonstration on Autodesk Labs.

We value your feedback: Autodesk is always interested in your feedback in order to guide future development. If you would like to share your thoughts please contact us. The Energy Cost Range tab in the Revit/Vasari Results and Compare window has a Feedback link. We also invite you to post any comments and questions on our Building Performance Analysis Community pages. Our Building Performance Analysis (BPA) team regularly monitors the community forums and will respond to your postings.