Workflow between Archicad and GH


We have an external library of constructions, composites and materials from archicad and from designbuilder that we would like to import to gh and use in HB energy modeling - does anybody have an idea of how?

I’m currently testing the capabilities of workflow between Archicad and GH, mainly focused on HB energy modeling. It seems that there’s generally a very good potential here, since the AC live connection provides a good connection, so doing a basic energyplus or openstudio calculation based on the internal constructions, materials and programs is quite easy.
But, we need to have full control and therefore cannot used the template values. Ideally we would like to do the modeling as well as setting up all construction and BIM properties in AC and then for GH to be able to read as much information as possible from AC, about construction and other BIM properties, so we have to setup as little as possible in GH.

This is just the challenge we are facing atm, and i’m sure more hickups will appear along the way, so anybody who has tips and tricks about the workflow bt. these software, please feel free to share!
I would also be happy to answer questions and share my experiences, if it has any interest.

@mLyhne, I dont know about archicad but DesignBuilder(DB) and HB use EnergyPlus on backend. You can use HB API in Grasshopper Python to read the library/datasets and plug into the recipe for simulation. But the limitation would be the format of the library/datasets. I don’t know whether the DB material and construction libraries/datasets format are accessible to read from python.

did you save the attributes from AC to an external XML file, or what do you mean by that?

using the openstudio internal presets based on the ASHRAE standards?

because if you meant simulating based on the geometry and material properties defined in AC: I’m actually struggling to get a useful output in the first place. using the .gbxml method using Ecodesigner’s export function is not really working for me with more complex problems. decontructing zones with the GH connection is doable, but then the material property assignment causes me headache.

the materials: the original bMat database can be found here (macOS):
/Applications/GRAPHISOFT/ARCHICAD 24/Add-Ons/EnergyEvaluation/INT/MaterialCatalog.xml

I guess it could be converted to a JSON file, although I don’t yet know how. maybe someone can help here with ideas if it’s doable or worth doing at all. I don’t know the sources or the accuracy of these material properties (I was having a closer look at timber and concrete recently, and it would be really helpful to have a citation for the sources in the file…), but you said you have your own.

there are also some previous attempts to build a seamless workflow:

these are related to gbXML:

also, material setup and modelling techniques are crucial - if you model the walls, slabs, roofs as single composite structures, you are fine, you will get proper material/layer/construction assignment in the gbXML file. if your model is set up in a different way, you will face issues (if you have the load-bearing slab and the flooring as separate elements, etc., or the wall as different layers). I don’t know how to make the gaps between the two sides of the internal walls disappear and have a nice, clean gbXML file (it’s also a problem when using the GH connection tool).

I would be glad to hear your findings as I am also hoping to find a satisfactory way to have a seamless integration with energyplus in the end (albeit burying it two layers deep - honeybee/openstudio then EP is sometimes hard to oversee).

it’s a bit off-topic, but this article has a recent a great overview on the current energy-modelling capabilities (and its reliability) of ARCHICAD:

Ecodesigner is a complete blackbox to me. so is the built-in thermal bridge calculator, it shows zero transparency in its calculation methods.

the best would be to have an exporter from AC that converts the model to the HB schema:)
anyway, as you can see, right now I have more questions than answers to you, unfortunately.

I didn’t succeed to do that - it was meant as a hypothetical possibility.
I did find the MaterialCatalog.xml file the installation folder, but it is formatted very differently. I also tried the export function in the attribute manager, but that also wasn’t the solution.

Yes, that is exactly what I meant. Just like you, I am also struggling to get out anything based on AC
material properties. The gbXML export just seems to be fundamentally flawed and it is not an option for me to assign all materials in GH, cause it is simply too time consuming. And also silly to have to keep both AC and GH materials and construction (composite) library up to date separately.

(read all through this before you attempt) This you can get around by just offsetting the edge of the zone half way through the wall, and then bring the zones to front, inside display order. If you have problems with AC automatically reversing this when you update your zones, go to settings of your zone and set ‘zone polygon’ to manual. If the gap still is there when you export go to your wall settings and under ‘model’ set the ‘relation to zones’ to 'no effect. I can’t remember if all of these steps are necessary, but if you play around with these settings, it will work. Another way of doing it will be to select all your internal walls, go to edit -> ref. line and plane -> modify wall ref. line and set the ref. line to ‘center’. Then repeat the same with all your external walls, only set the external walls to ‘outside face’. Now place your zones, and only after that, set the relation to zones to no effect. I don’t know if you will loose the properties of the materials when the relation is set to no effect, but try it. (Edit: I just tested this out again, and it seems that it is not working. In 2D the zones appear to be to external wall face, but they aren’t in 3D. So i think the only way is to space+click when you create zones, set method to manual and then manually offset…)

The capabilities of this software is unfortunately not enough for us either (also ecodesigner star is not avaible in our country), and we will eventually need our work for governmental approvals, and the engine ecodesigner is based on is not approved, as far as i know. At the moment we use DesignBuilder.

It seems that we both have many questions, so let’s hope someone with react to our call for help :slight_smile:

For anyone who might end up in the same confusion I feel like recapping the issues of the AC/GH workflow in terms of energy evaluation.
The main issues with this workflow are the following:

A. Spacial boundaries of each zone (GH requires no space between zones and the only way to do that in AC so that GH will accept the spacial boundaries is to disconnect each zone from the walls and manually expand them)
B. Information on material- and thermal properties from AC to GH

I contacted the AC team in Hungary and asked for their guidance, and here’s a quote from their reply:

“I have discussed it with our specialists and what I have learned is that although we are so close to be able to support such a workflow, now it is not possible.
The user is right about the Archicad Zones. Unfortunately, they weren’t intended for such workflow (meaning the gaps between the 3D model of the zones) and not being able to calculate with the structures (materials and composites) between the adjacent Zones.
Because of that, we can’t offer any good workaround within Archicad by now. It is much more likely that they get to a more automated solution within Grasshopper.
I just registered the Wishes into our system, under the number #12990. Hopefully, they will be considered for future releases, allowing the wished workflow.”

I hope this workflow will be streamlined in the future. For now, if anyone has some insights on how to solve these issues within GH, please let me know. The zones issues can be resolved with SolveAdjecencies (at least in my testing of fairly simple buildings), but the materials, constructions and composites issues are more challenging.

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