This tutorial will walk you through the basic workflow for setting up your Blender model with cove.tool's "BlenderBIM add-on" to export geometry to cove.tool for Daylight and Energy analysis.
Exporting your Blender project to cove.tool with the BlenderBIM add-on has been designed to work with the IFC modeling structure and schema (more here). This workflow allows for efficient updating of your project geometry throughout the design phases streamlining the exporting process. These changes also drastically improve the ease at which users can model and export large, complex, or mixed-use projects.
Before We Begin
Make sure to have the latest version of the plugin downloaded, a cove.tool project already created in the online app, and a Blender model ready for export.
To retrieve a copy of the latest plugin, go to the Plugin App Store at cove.tool resource site, or visit the BlenderBIM page.
Install BlenderBIM using the instructions provided here.
Next, make sure to have a cove.tool project created before you begin the export process (walkthrough here).
All cove.tool plugins are BIM extensions that make exporting building geometry, a quick and accurate process. By automating 90% of the workflow, cove.tool gives the time it takes to set up and run multiple types of simulations, back to the designer. Each simulation analysis requires its own set of inputs and standards which are used to output accurate results and diagrams.
Cove.tool has 8 geometry categories, 5 required, and 3 optional:
Required: Roofs, Floors, Exterior Walls, Windows, Building Height
Optional: Skylights, Interior Walls, and Shading Devices.
All essential layers are needed to access the 3D Analysis page. Learn more about geometry inside cove.tool here. This tutorial covers the process of correctly categorizing all building geometry to the proper cove.tool layers using the BlenderBIM add-on and IFC_element assignment. Let's get right to it!
Get started by locating and opening the Scene Properties palette under the Editor Type in the lower right part of the screen. Scroll down the list of BIM properties and locate the cove.tool property. Move the cove.tool tab to the top of your properties list by clicking & holding the multi-dot grip on the right of the tab, then drag it to the top. Open the cove.tool property with the dropdown arrow.
Step 1 – Provide your login, password, and paste the URL from your cove.tool project page in the text panels.
Step 2 – Locate your desired project by scrolling through the project list now populated in the cove.tool property.
Step 3 (Manual Mode) – Users can automatically upload manual area values to cove.tool. Simply input values for the building height and the areas for each associated layer. This is best suited for early pre-design phases when the building shape may still be in the sketch-on-a-napkin stage.
Step 3 (3d Mode) – The export process for three-dimensional geometry is dependent on the IFC data structure and IFC element assignment for each object in your model. You must first organize your model data structure to the IFC structure. In the scene palette, locate the Building Information Modeling property tab and click the Quick Project Setup button. You can change the folder location where this is saved if needed.
Step 4 – Select all of the objects for a particular building layer and assign the appropriate IFC class and type. Assigning the correct IFC element name is critical to ensure objects are assigned to the correct cove.tool layer. We'll use Floor geometry for these steps to demonstrate the process of assigning the IFC properties to the objects that represent our building floors. Repeat the sub-steps A-E below for the object of each building layer.
The IFC assignment process overview.
IFC class and type for each cove.tool layer.
A – First select objects.
B – Navigate to the Products property item in the Building Information Modeling palette under Categorisation. It is IfcElement by default. If it is not, change it to IfcElement.
C – Navigate to the Class property and click on the dropdown arrow to open the class options window. Select the appropriate class for the selected geometry. For our example, Floor geometry belongs to the IfcSlab class.
D – Check the predefined type property if the default option is correct. To assign a different option, click the dropdown arrow to select the correct type option.
E – Once the IFC class and type are chosen, click the Assign IFC Class button to assign the properties to the selected geometry. The object name will change to IFC specific naming convention as a confirmation the assignment was correctly executed.
Step 5 – Once all of the project geometry is properly assigned your project can be exported to cove.tool. Make sure all objects are visible. No hidden geometry will be exported. navigate to the cove.tool property tab and double-check the correct project is selected. When everything is completed and verified, click on the Run Analysis button underneath the cove.tool project list.
Step 6 – Go to the cove.tool app in your browser and refresh the page. The 3d-mode is made available once all geometry is uploaded. Verify that all objects were properly assigned by toggling off all elements in the Element Selection section on the Daylight Page, and then turn on each one at a time. If there are any objects not assigned correctly, go back to Blender and check the object name has been given the correct IFC name. If not, repeat step 4 to correct the IFC class and type the assignment.
Whew! That's was some good work! Now you can get to the good stuff with awesome performance analysis like Shadow, Daylight, Glare, Radiation, Energy, and our favorite Cost v. Energy Optimization with you cove.tool project.
You may also like our case studies and the latest insights from our publications.
A quick note from our team: The power of open-source tools is the support from a crowd of individuals with the passion to produce integrated tools for the benefit of everyone. We are glad to provide support to the Blender community through BlenderBIM, and thankful for those passionate about climate action and open-source digital tools.