I am new to umi so I would like to ask you the following.

I need to study some buildings from the energy prospect.

I have some terraced  houses,  buildings with a vertical separation between the dwellings. How can I model this in umi? Should I design boxes atached to each other? 

I want to model also houses that are two floor houses (horizontal separation between the dwellings) and have an attic. Is it possible in umi to design buildings with two floors? Can you assign zones to floors? How can you model a building like this?

Thank you.

Best regards,

Manousos Syngelakis

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Thank you for using UMI. You can model your first scenario with adjacent boxes, as long as you additionally, where each pair of boxes touch, create a surface covering the entire area that touches and place it on the UMI "Boundary objects" layer.

With regard to your second question: UMI does not support multizone models. If you have a small number of models, using Archsim would be more appropriate.


Dear Cody,

thank you for your reply. 

Regarding the 1st question, in case you have a pitched roof for the terraced houses, can you make the surface (Boundary object) in an appropriate shape (not only simple rectangular)?

Regarding the second question, as I understood there is not an option to model f.ex. an attic which as an extra floor on top of the main building area? Your suggestion if I use the umi is to make the assumption to model it as one zone building including the volume of the attic?

Thank you,

Manousos Syngelakis

The boundary surface can be any flat polygon.

To answer your second question: Sort of. You don't really model it as a "one-zone" building, either - UMI handles all the zone definitions for you, behind the scenes, by generating them from the building template information. There's no way to manually intervene in this process.

Regarding the 1st question.

Can you please name the command to create the surface (Boundary object)? Is it the ''SrfPt''?  Do I define by this way an adiabatic surface  between the two attached buildings?  Do the layers like the Boundary objects, Site boundary, Streets etc. influence the calculations (only from the energy prospect)?

Regarding the 2nd question

Is it possible to do the same and make a surface (Boundary object) between the two floors like the surface I have for the attached buildings? 

Another thought I have is to define the roof of the ground floor and the floor of the 1st floor as adiabatic surfaces. Does it make sense to do it like this or you think that umi calculations will be very rough and not close to real consumption?

SrfPt is one way to create surfaces, although Rhino has several others, and yes, you are defining an adiabatic surface between two buildings. The other layer with energy-affecting objects is the Shading layer; no other UMI layers affect the energy calculation.

Placing an adiabatic surface between the ground floor and the first floor makes sense if you want to model them as separate buildings. This might be a good idea if their use is quite different; for example, lower-floor retail and upper-floor residential space. You shouldn't do it just to approximate a multizone model, though.

Dear Cody,

thank you again for the very helpful information.

Just one last question in order to be sure that I understood everything you said. I am not so much inerested in how many zones umi will assign to the building. I would like to  to find the total energy consumption for a two floor residential building.

To make it more clear, I have seen designs like the one that it is in the hompage of umi that have more than one floors.How does umi calculate the total energy consumption in buildings like those? How is the separation of floors designed?

Thank you,

Manousos Syngelakis

UMI generates exemplar zones for the building, simulates them, and scales the results up to the total building floor area. The number of exemplar zones is partially user-controllable as an advanced setting under Project Settings - moving the slider towards "accurate" generates more exemplars, and moving it towards "fast" generates fewer.

Thank you for the reply. Now I have a rough estimate of how umi generates the zones. But this brings me to my next question. If you design a box of 5 m, and then define the height of the floor at 2,5 then you have 2 floors per building. No matter how many zones umi generates you can have the total cosnumption of the building. Is it possible to have a pitched roof in the building? I am not sure that umi understands the geometry of the building with a pitched roof, because I tried it and the cosnumption is a bit higher or the same as the building had a flat roof.

Thank you,


Pitched roofs are not supported at this time. (You can define them, but the results will not be correct.)

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In Short

Umi is a Rhino-based design environment for architects and urban planners interested in modeling the environmental performance of neighborhoods and cities with respect to operational and embodied energy use, walkability and daylighting potential. Since 2012, Umi has been  developed by the Sustainable Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with support from a National Science Foundation EFRI_SEED project, the MIT Energy Initiative, the Kuwait-MIT Center, the Center for Complex Engineering Systems (CCES) at KACST and MIT, Transsolar Climate Engineering and United Technologies Corporation. Further tool developed is now also being conducted at the Environmental Systems Lab at Cornell University.

A first public version of Umi was released during a public symposium on Sustainable Urban Design on May 6th 2013 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Version 2.0, which also includes an embodied energy module, was released on November 7th 2014.

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