New Ways to Use ArchiCAD: e-SPECS and EcoDesigner Star

ArchiCAD is a powerful tool that keeps getting ever more versatile over the years.

From the very beginning in 1984, it was a 3D design tool for architecture. By the late 80’s it was capable of producing full sets of architectural drawings, and the concept of Virtual Building™ started to take shape.

Essentially, Virtual Building is the same idea as Building Information Modeling (BIM), but since Graphisoft trademarked the term it didn’t come into wide use. As I’m sure you know, BIM is now the commonly accepted way to describe the intelligent building model that represents the design in 2D, 3D and for analysis including quantity and performance data calculation.

As a BIM project is developed, certain quantities, schedules and notes can be compiled directly within the software. However, more specialized software tools provide additional capabilities for structural analysis, energy usage calculations, and preparation of specifications documents.

e-SPECS is a tool for creating specifications documents, now compatible with ArchiCAD

e-SPECS for ArchiCAD

A widely used tool for creating specifications documents is e-SPECS. It can derive information from the BIM file and pull specification information from a standard or customized database to develop a standard specifications file.

It can be used stand-alone, meaning that someone can manually compile the specs using its database and reporting tools, but it becomes even more powerful and productive when tied directly into the BIM file. When used in this fashion, the specifications are created based on an analysis of the actual construction elements used in the file, and will automatically update if, for example, a wall assembly, structural column or fixture is replaced or added to the design.

As far as I know, the only BIM applications that e-SPECS supported until recently were AutoCAD, Revit and Bentley Architecture. This meant that ArchiCAD users could not take advantage of this workflow.

Last year, e-SPECS introduced support for ArchiCAD PLN files:
GRAPHISOFT and InterSpec, Inc. Announce ArchiCAD e-Specs Integration

To learn more about how this works and what benefits it may offer for your firm, tune in to the live webinar this Wednesday January 16 at 2 pm EST:


Register for the ArchiCAD EcoDesigner Start webinar

ArchiCAD EcoDesigner Star

For several years now, ArchiCAD has offered EcoDesigner as a tool to do energy analysis of your project. At first, this add-on was sold as an add-on, then in version 16 it was bundled with ArchiCAD at no additional charge.

EcoDesigner is intended to be used as a design aid, allowing comparison of multiple models to optimize energy usage. It uses certain simplifying assumptions to make the setup easy for a designer, and speed up the calculations. Given this approach, it makes it possible for a non-specialist to assess the effect of different design variations, to encourage more efficient site placement and orientation, as well as optimization of the general building envelope.

However, while the calculations were based on a robust and internationally certified energy analysis “engine”, the results and reports were approximations that could not be used for submission to building authorities. They also did not allow some of the more sophisticated passive and active energy strategies to be analyzed and validated for each project.

The next generation of this analysis tool is called EcoDesigner Star, which provides more precise calculations and handles a wider variety of energy-saving design methods. It is certified standard-compliant, which allows for streamlined collaboration between designers and energy consultants. It is my understanding that over time the detailed building performance reports produced by EcoDesigner Star may become accepted for submissions to various regulatory authorities.

For more information about this exciting new technology developed by Graphisoft for ArchiCAD users, you may register for a “Sneak Preview” webinar on January 29:

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 8 comments
Tom Downer - January 14, 2013

Thanks, Eric.
This “new” blog is yet another great resource for keeping up with what’s new and/or interesting in the world of ArchiCAD.

Elibariki Shempemba - January 15, 2013

thanks Eric for continually opening up our eyes.

Oliver Hess - January 15, 2013

Thanks Eric for this!

I´m looking for an similar aplication for a german client. maybee there is later not only an international version, but a translated/german version too?!

Kind Regards Oliver

John Peter Rwothongeyo - January 15, 2013

Like your video and very much willing to enroll on the online course however am from Uganda and credit cards are a rear case so sometimes it makes it difficult to make payment then the other thing is that we so much dependent on modem for easy access of internet and they are pretty slow therefore prom ting one to move to place where he/she can get good network therefore becoming at times costly. I would like to have a full DVD of your tutorial if available and easy way of accessing it. At the moment am doing an online course with CISCO Academy and believe after am done ArchiCAD should be next.

Leka Nderimo - January 15, 2013

Erick you have been inspiration to most of us and whenever we stuck you are there with solutions.
For your information you have a lot of followers in this part of the world who are unregistered.
Keep it up, you rock budy!

Jerald Leimenstoll - January 15, 2013

Thank you for the blog Eric. It is another on your list of services that understand what architects need and how we work.

Nicanor Cardoso - January 15, 2013

Hey Eric! interesting stuff. thanks for the info!

Eric - January 15, 2013

Thanks everyone for your comments – it’s exciting for me to get your feedback!

@Oliver – I don’t know what is available in Germany – I suggest you ask the question on ArchiCAD-Talk, or on the equivalent in Germany (if there is one), or to your local reseller or distributor.

@John Peter – I’m glad to know that you are interested in enrolling in my ArchiCAD training courses. If you don’t have a credit card, we can easily process payment via Western Union money order. My courses are generally delivered through the web browser via broadband, but DVD versions are available for a small additional charge. I’ll send you an email with details.



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