Model Setup - Template Editor

The Template Library Editor is an independent application provided with umi for the creation, management and edition of XML Template Library Files (TLF). TLF files are the open format used by umi to exchange and store information about materials, constructions, schedules, thermal loads, spaces and buildings. This section explains the basic characteristics of the TLF and the basic controls of the editor.

Part 1: The XML Template Library File

The Template Library File (TLF) is an XML type file with a specific structure in which all building and space properties, both thermal and environmental, are stored for multiple building types. It includes both a library of building definitions, and libraries of all their data dependencies which currently include the following:

    - Opaque and Glazing Materials

    - Opaque, Glazing and Structural Constructions

    - Daily, Weekly and Yearly Schedules

Within the file these categories are listed as XML objects, grouped by the previously named types, and can be created and edited both through the use of the template editor, and directly in any text edition software (See Figure below for a diagram of the data structure). To know more about the TLF file format and its importance in building performance simulation in design you can access the academic paper “Towards standardized building properties template files for early design energy model generation”, accessible in the following link. SimBuild2014 Proceedings

Part 2: Opening a TLF file and navigating contents

You can open the Template Library Editor, from the “Site” umi panel by clicking the “Edit” button (See the “Configuring site parameters” section in this User Guide). The application will pop up in a separate window, and immediately open the TLF file currently loaded in your umi file. If you did not change the original file, you will see the default library file opened.

The template editor interface is divided in two main sections: A data tree window (1) and a data form window (2). The first allows for navigating all the elements in the open TLF file. The second contains one tab for each component type in the library (Materials, constructions, buildings, etc.), giving access to all fields in that particular data type.

You can open the data tree for a component data type by clicking its tab. Then you will see all data entries for that component, classified by type. You can access the contents of a particular entry by clicking its name in the data tree.

Additional file management commands are accessible from the “File” menu at the top left. You can open a different TLF by clicking “Open”, and finding the file in the browser window. You can as well save the file with a different name through “Save as”. Finally you can “Save” the file under its current name. Note that all changes you make on the library will be lost if you do not save the file before closing the editor. If the file you modify is the same one you have loaded in umi, changes will be immediately applied to your file, but if you rename the file remember to load it in umi. Soon this menu will also include functionality for merging and importing one library into another.

Part 3: Adding and modifying components in a TLF file

There two main controls in the Template Library Editor to edit components in the file: The “Remove” button (1) and the “Add/Modify” button (2). In order to eliminate an entry in the data tree, highlight its name by clicking on it and then click the “Remove” button, marked with a minus sign.

In order to modify any filed in an existing entry in the data tree, first edit the required fields in the data form window and afterwards click on the “Add/Modify” button. Remember that no changes will be stored in the entry when a different one is selected if the button is not clicked before.

Entries in the file and data tree are identified by their “Name” field. Therefore, if you want to create a new entry and add it to the file, open an existing entry of the same type, modify its name and click the “Add/Modify” button. You will then see the new entry appear in the data tree.

Part 4: Basic content modification

Each component data type in a library file has different data fields accessible within the Template Editor, used in different modules of umi. This section provides general directions about how to manipulate these fields. However, in order to know more about the specific meaning and interpretation of the fields, you can visit the “Embodied Energy” and “Operational Energy” sections of this user guide.

Entry fields are grouped in different areas of information represented in the editor by boxes (e.g. GENERAL, THERMAL, etc.). In each component data type the areas “General” and “Comments” are provided. The first includes the name of the entry defined through a text box and the type of the entry selected through a drop down list. The second includes a field to characterize the source/author of the data and a second one to add any descriptive comments. The file include other sets of fields used for different types of simulation, in which inputs come in the form of text boxes or drop down lists. This is the case of areas such as “Thermal” and “Environmental” in materials and constructions.

In addition to these typical data access types, three other types of inputs are used in the Template Library Editor. The first is layer list object used in constructions to describe the types and thicknesses of component sin an assembly. You can add a new component to the table by clicking in the first empty cell (1). A new window will open with a data tree to select from, and then the thickness can be written in the adjacent cell. The “Up” and “Down” arrows in the top left can be used to change the position in the assembly of the selected layer. The “Trash” icon can be clicked in order to erase the selected layer (2). Note that layers have to be introduced from the outside to the inside of the element.

The second input type is the “Hourly graph” for daily schedules. In this case the each bar represents one hour of the day, and can take a value from 0 to 1 representing the fraction to be applied to a particular load through that schedule. You can modify these values by clicking and pulling the top end of the bars in the graph.

The third additional input type in the Template Library Editor is typically filled in grey and has a label which reads “Click to choose”. You can modify such fields by clicking them. A new window will appear from which you can choose from other component sin your library. Note that if you try to save an element or add it to the library leaving this type of fields empty, the component will not properly work and may crash the editor with the risk of losing non saved changes.

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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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