What is Mr.Comfy?
The Grasshopper3d plugin Mr.Comfy allows designers to dynamically map EnergyPlus whole-building thermal simulation results as color-coded surfaces (incl. source numeric values) in Rhinoceros3d design models. Users specify which thermal zones of a building model to visualize in which frequency and schedule combination. Several metrics can be shown in parallel by simultaneously using multiple components, and even new metrics created by custom user input expressions or by linking several Mr.Comfy components. However, Mr.Comfy is *not* a thermal simulation tool, only a results visualization and analysis suite. See the links section for openly available simulation tools.
What is the motivation behind the software?
Typical built-in results outputs of thermal simulation software are various charts or spreadsheets. Some tools, e.g. OpenStudio, allow color-coding of geometry based on simulation results, yet are limited in that capability. Mr.Comfy was created based on its author’s teaching experiences in daylighting with DIVA; student designers would typically better understand the space-based display of daylight simulation, as opposed to e.g., line or bar charts. Also, it is relatively difficult to attain a global yet spatially specific overview of what is happening in a model through standard plots; Mr.Comfy, by virtue of directly showing simulation metrics in each space at the same time and in relation to one another, helps to identify specific thermal and daylight events that can then be further investigated through traditional analysis.
What specific types of data display can be accomplished with Mr.Comfy?
As the tool is open in nature, the designers’ creativity in what data to use and map for what analysis purpose is the only limit. However, certain representation are deemed useful and are implicitly introduced in the user guide:
- Static non-animated mapping of report metrics, e.g. for a specific time frame and schedule combination (color gradient bounds fit to data).
- Discovery and mapping of peak minima and maxima, for e.g. a specific season (color gradient bounds fit to data).
- Animated mapping of sums or averages within adaptive color bounds, esp. monthly, and creation of spatio-temporal maps.
- Hybrid climate-based daylight and custom spatial thermal metric combinations, to gain a holistic performance view.
How “accurate” is it?
As data is taken from simulation runs performed in external software by the user, whatever Mr.Comfy displays is only as accurate as the simulation results. For speed, the internal averager uses daily scheduled data sets generated from hourly values, so after more than ten decimal places, a miniscule error in the data display is introduced.
Which additional software & input datasets are required to run the tool?
- Thermal simulation software running EnergyPlus (on-site list)
- EnergyPlus installation (unless already performed by your simulation software)
- Rhinoceros3d 5, Grasshopper3d, Python for Grasshopper3d
- A heavy-duty text file processor, e.g. Notepad++
- Daysim (natively or e.g. integrated into DIVA4Rhino) for daylight results generation
Files needed to create thermal visualizations from simulation runs:
- EnergyPlus standard output file: *.eso
- E+ invariant output file: *.eio
- E+ “rvi” file to specify which report variables to put in a *.csv: *.rvi
- User or software-generated hourly, annual *.csv (comma-separated value) file of results: *.csv
Only full-year, hourly time step *.csv files are supported. The creation of custom *.csv files is covered in the tutorials. Having many report variables in a *.csv file prolongs parsing and custom variable creation, but has otherwise no impact in interactivity.
For climate-based daylight simulation visualizations, you need:
Take into account that Daysim data output files can easily reach 100mb or more, hence interaction with the data in Mr.Comfy is slower than thermal data display. The interface used to run the simulations does not matter as long as both valid *.ill and *.pts files are produced.
Where does the name “Mr.Comfy” come from?
Energy use and daylight provision in buildings is aimed at providing occupant comfort- without that goal, there would no need for space conditioning. Mr.Comfy is not designed to deal with high resolution thermal comfort mapping (there are other more specialized tools for that), yet all energy metrics spatially exposed through this tool occur due to the designers’ global aim to provide comfort. Additionally, in free-running buildings, patterns of solar incidence, air temperature changes and their interplay with occupancy build a much more dynamic picture than in fully conditioned buildings; Mr.Comfy is best used to visualize these patterns. Hence the name. Also: Spaceballs.