Greeting beekeepers and ‘bug farmers! We are happy to announce another stable release of Ladybug + Honeybee (legacy version).
When this project was started over 5 years ago, we had always hoped that we could challenge a trend that we were witnessing across the industry at the time: that separate software packages were being marketed towards architects and engineers. While this tendency may have arisen out of an innocent desire for software companies to increase their marketability, the unforeseen consequence of siloing of knowledge between the two professions was something that we felt needed to be addressed.
Accordingly, this release represents a final “keystone in the arch” that completes some important bridges between common engineering and architectural workflows. The features of this release should open up new modes of collaboration between professions and make it easier for us who enjoy occupying the middle ground between them.
As always you can download the new release from Food4Rhino. Make sure to remove the older version of Ladybug and Honeybee before you do so and update your scripts. So, without further ado, here are the updates!
Clear Sky Radiation Studies for Design Days (HVAC Sizing) - There’s a new component in town that can generate solar radiation values for clear sky conditions at any hour of the year. These ASHRAE Clear Skies are what engineers typically use to find the maximum cooling load of a building and subsequently size the building’s HVAC system. Accordingly, the use of these skies is pivotal for arguing HVAC cost savings produced by exterior shade and for keeping within “radiation budgets” that enable the use of efficient HVAC systems like radiant slabs and chilled beams. The new component produces BOTH the hourly diffuse/direct solar radiation as you might find within a EPW file AND cumulative sky matrices that can be used to run Ladybug Radiation studies. The inputs to generate the clear skies are the latitude/location information (just like the sunpath) and monthly atmosphere aerosol depths, which can be found in the .stat file next to the EPW. To support these new workflows, the Ladybug_Import Stat component has been revised to bring in these values. You can see the full workflow that performs a peak solar study on a summer design day here.
New Surface Hourly Solar Component - There is often a need to get hourly solar radiation data falling on a surface of a given orientation. Previously, the only way to get this data in Ladybug was to run a Ladybug Radiation study for every hour of the year, which is quite time consuming and way more than what is needed if you aren’t worried about context blocking the sun to the surface. The new Ladybug_Surface Hourly Solar component helps avoid this time consuming process by performing a simple trig calculation to give hourly, unobstructed solar falling on a surface of any orientation. The component is useful for a range of applications and you can see here an example using the component to help calculate Annual Sun Exposure (ASE).
Sun Shades Calculator Out of WIP - After the component made its debut under WIP in the last stable release, @AbrahamYezioro ’s and @AntonelloDiNunzio component the Ladybug_Sun Shades Calculator is finally out of WIP. This release includes a few bug fixes that make it stable amidst the truly magical number of shade geometry configurations that it can compute. For a full working example of the component, see Abraham’s example here.
Passive Solar Polygon Available on Psychrometric Chart - After so many people asked for it, I am happy to say that the Ladybug_Psychromtric Chart not supports a polygon showing the potential of passive solar heating whenever surface hourly solar radiation values are connected to annualHourlyData. Enjoy!
Support for OpenStudio Measures - Many of you are aware that EnergyPlus has been around for 27 years and, over that time, it has accumulated many more features than could possibly ever be expressed in Honeybee’s interface for it. For this reason the, OpenStudio development team at NREL began a project that they called “Measures” to give access to the full capabilities of E+ to anyone who knew a bit of computer scripting. These OpenStudio Measures are short scripts written in Ruby and use the OpenStudio Software Development Kit or the EnergyPlus Input Data Dictionary to edit energy models. The uses of these scripts could be anything one desires: from replacing all of the envelope constructions of a model with baseline code compliant ones, to adding an innovative new HVAC system, to processing model outputs into custom reports. Since the launch of measures, there have been more than 250 contributions that scripters have made to a growing measure library on the NREL Building Components Library (BCL). Now we are happy to say that Honeybee can apply these measures to the OpenStudio models that it exports. Specifically, these measures can be input to a new Load Measure component, which allows you to assign any relevant inputs for the measure right within Grasshopper. The measure can then be assigned to your OpenStudio model and it will be run anytime that you simulate the model with Honeybee. You can find an example here that shows the whole Honeybee measure workflow.
This capability opens up new modes of collaboration between measure-writers and Honeybee users. For example, an engineering team can supply an architectural team with a measure that assigns the HVAC system that they intend to implement so architecture teams can run parametric envelope studies that are correctly informed by HVAC parameters. And that’s just the beginning! The sky is the limit!
Peak Loads Visualizations - While the last couple of releases have included a component that extracts the HVAC sizing information from an EnergyPlus run, we have never given any guidance on understanding why this HVAC size number is what it is. A visualization of peak loads over a design day does just this - it breaks down the loads from different sources to show what factors are driving the need for a larger HVAC system.
In truth, these visualizations are not really a new feature however we have added a few adjustments to make this process easier and produced an example file here, which should make this capability much easier for anyone to replicate.
Structured Energy Models that Can be Edited in the OpenStudio Interface - In accordance with the theme mentioned at the top of this release, an important vision of ours has been the ability to have one person create an energy model using Honeybee and then pass that model off to someone else who doesn’t know Rhino/Grasshopper but is a wizard in an energy modeling interface. This type of workflow should be much easier now that a number of adjustments that have been made to the OpenStudio export workflow. OpenStudio models exported through honeybee now have envelope constructions assigned based on construction sets, which makes it easy to change all of the constructions of a certain surface type at once in the OpenStudio interface. Furthermore, zones that have the same loads and schedules are grouped into space types and have these loads/schedules assigned based on this type. So adjusting the properties of a group of zones together is also easier. Lastly, the OpenStudio export component automatically assigns zones to a building story based on their floor level, making it easier to sort through all of the zones of large, full-building models.
Support for Rhino Model Units Other than Meters - We realise that this might not make a big difference to many people outside of the US but, for all of us who pull our hair out on a regular basis because everyone around them uses the Imperial System, this will be a relief. Honeybee now has support for all typical Rhino units systems (feet, inches, millimeters, centimeters and meters). While all of the other inputs to the components are still expected to be in SI units (like temperature, energy, etc), you can at least build your energy model off of the design team’s models that are in feet, inches, or millimeters without having to convert the model.
Custom Radiant Heating/Cooling Systems - One of the reasons why Honeybee uses EnergyPlus as the underlying energy simulation engine is that it performs radiant heat transfer calculations correctly in a way that many other engines oversimplify. For this reason, one of the biggest reasons why many practitioners are switching their workflows over to EnergyPlus is to model radiant HVAC systems, which can be designed to use much less energy than many traditional HVAC. To support this, we have added the ability to customize which surfaces are thermally active such that you can test different configurations of radiant walls, floors, or ceiling panels. You can also customize the type of radiant construction (ie. metal panel radiant, concrete radiant slab, etc.). This example here shows how to set up a model to run these types of systems.
Parallel Processing Added to Re-Run IDF and OSM Components - While there are many calculations throughout Ladybug + Honeybee that run in parallel to reduce simulation time, energy simulation has never had this luxury… until now. All energy simulations run linearly, with each calculation of the simulation depending upon the previous one, making it difficult to divide the calculation up between different processors. However, when you have a parametric run where you are generating several energy models, there is no reason why each model could run on its own processor. Now that we have added a parallel_ option to the ReRun IDF and ReRun OSM components, this workflow is now easy to perform with Honeybee. Simply write out all of the OSM or IDF models that you would normally (but don’t run them), and use a native grasshopper Record component to record the file paths. Connect these file paths up to the right ReRun component and BOOM! You are running energy simulations in parallel.
New Split Building Mass Components Out of WIP - In the last release, we mentioned the debut of two new components that brought unprecedented speed and reliability to the operation of splitting full-building massings into zones. Thanks to the efforts of @SaeranVasanthakumar, these components are now out of WIP and have officially replaced the old building massing splitter. Thanks is also due to @Devang, who contributed code for catching concave building geometries that cannot be easily accommodated by the building mass splitter. Now, your workflows from building massing to Honeybee models will be faster than ever!
New Components to Create Thermally Bridged Constructions for EnergyPlus - One of the reasons why it is helpful to have a THERM workflow integrated in Honeybee is that the results can be used to inform full building energy models. This process of informing energy models should now be easier with a new component to adjust existing E+ constructions to match a certain assembly U-value from a THERM model. This example file shows a full workflow between THERM and EnergyPlus using this new component. There’s also a new component to calculate window assembly U-values from THERM models of window frames and you can see an example using this new window assembly component here.
Support for Latest Engines and Rhino 6 - In the future, most of our release notes for Ladybug + Honeybee Legacy will be just like this: simply a confirmation that the plugin has been updated to work with the most recent versions of the simulation engines it depends on. For this release, we can now say that Honeybee supports OpenStudio 2.4, EnergyPlus 8.8, and THERM 7.6. We are also happy to say that, while there may be some bugs that we have failed to catch, the release of the plugin seems to be working without issues in Rhino 6. So you should feel free to upgrade without concern and, if you encounter anything fishy, just let us know on this forum and we’ll fix it right away!
As always let us know your comments and suggestions.
The Ladybug Tools Development Team