Revit, EcoTect and Green Building Studio – Just Like Peanut Butter and Salami

Watched Autodesk’s webinar today titled “Sustainable Analysis and Revit Architecture.”  LEED and BIM.  I challenge anyone to find two “hotter” acronyms in the industry right now.  So clearly Autodesk is going to be on top of this and come at us with some amazing software that will blow our socks off, right?  Right?


First, a couple caveats.  I had been keeping an eye on this software for a while now, in fact, I watched a very similar presentation last year.  My expectations weren’t high, but I am always hoping for a miracle.  Secondly, the presenters did a very good job.  They clearly knew their stuff and presented it well. 

But the software.  Oh, man, the software.  It absolutely felt like they were trying to sell us a portable cassette player for me to listen to my songs from iTunes.  Sure, I could convert my songs to analog and find some cable and recorder to put them all on cassette.  But… really?  And the worst part is, the guys selling me the cassette player are the ones who convinced me how awesome iTunes was in the first place.

Here’s Revit.  It’s a bucket for me to put in all this amazing and valuable information about my building.  I love it.  I am not only drinking but I am mixing and serving the Kool-Aid as well.  I also love other software that can look into my bucket and do something with that information.  It doesn’t have to add to the bucket, but if it’s looking at the bucket and I make a change, I know it will see that change.  Or at the very least I can export A LOT of my bucket’s data to another file.  I spent all this time putting info in, I want to be able to get it out.

Neither Ecotect nor Green Building Studio can look into my bucket.  I don’t think Autodesk created these apps originally, but they’ve had them for a while.  And this software cannot read a Revit file.  Just won’t happen.  You have to export your model to GBXML for one and DXF for another (wait, is that right?  DXF?  really?) 

So, with the DXF all you get is geometry.  All of the information (the “I” in “BIM”) is gone.  Poof.  If my model contained that data, I have to re-enter it.  That is so amazingly counterproductive it makes my brain want to bleed.  The GBXML takes my rooms.  Nothing about the fenestration, no material data, just the rooms.  Again, loss of “I”.

Autodesk has been pushing Revit as the cornerstone to the Rainbows and Unicorns world of BIM for some time now.  And it is absolutely a platform that could support it.  It frustrates me that that the two services that the guys who make Revit have for us to analyze and make important decisions about our design are so stone-age when compared to Revit.  I will not ask my production people to input building information and data more than once on such a grand scale.  That is a waste of time and hence money.

I certainly am not privy to the inner decisions at Autodesk, but from what I’ve seen of Ecotect and Green Building Studio, nor am I a software developr, my suggestion would be to scrap them both and start from the ground up with a new service/software that is built on the Revit database model and can talk directly with and pull data from an RVT file.  This shoehorning of the Revit files into anitquated and ineffective software is just going to frustrate people and send them to find another solution in the end.

Now, pass me some of that Grape Kool-Aid.