We’ve reached the end of our Thermal Bridging Simulation Adventure (for now). As a recap here’s post 0, post 1, post 2post 3, and post 4.

Now that we know what we’re doing, let’s go back a few steps and see how everything is easier if we make a few changes to our processes.

EcoDesigner StarThe first thing is that we are all going to start using the Detail Tool to make all our details. I used to not like this method because I spent so much time cleaning up details. But I think we have solutions to that now (I sense I’ll need to record a video on that). I didn’t see the reason to put details in separate 2D windows when I was always working on multiple details at once (and the detail markers could be linked to saved views of the same 2D window). Thermal Bridging Simulation gives us a big reason to separate them out. Also I didn’t like that there was the detail boundary automatically created. I was always deleting that. Well for sometime now we’ve had the ability in the project preferences to turn that detail boundary off, so it isn’t created. HOWEVER, we want that detail boundary because ArchiCAD understands it as the extents of the detail. The simulator wizard recognizes empty spaces within the boundary as clickable areas when designating air and soil. So if you have a detail boundary you don’t need to draw fills for air and soil (Though you’ll probably need to draw the soil so that there is a recognizable boundary between the air and soil). If we don’t have fills drawn for the air, the final thermal images will look prettier since there won’t be fat black outlines around the edges of the image that are just air.

If you don’t want to see the detail boundary in your final details, you can just change it to a hidden layer or make it a white dotted line so that it’s essentially invisible. I’ve used that trick before for other things, like in this video talking about Complex Profiles. The white dotted line appears around the 6:30 mark. Furthermore, note that you can reshape the detail boundary (ei, make it bigger or a weird shape). As long as you don’t delete it, ArchiCAD will still recognize it as the extents of the Thermal Bridging Simulation. That’s another benefit of using the Detail Tool. Anything outside of the detail boundary (the dashed red line in my image) will be ignored, including fills.

I hope I’ve managed to show that the Thermal Bridging Simulation is quite straightforward and easy.

I’m sure you noticed by now that the detail generated from my model is not pretty. One might call it ugly. I would. However at 1/4″ scale, which is what the model is designed to be shown at, it looks much, much better. But that beauty is pretty shallow and designed for only one scale. I now have to think of fills as materials, not just graphics. For instance in my models, I use one fill for interior finishes (so gyp. board, finish floor, and wood trim are all the same fill) and one for exterior sheathing and finishes (which means ArchiCAD reads my sheathing, stucco, and various trims as the same thing). I do this because it creates very clean 1/4″ sections that need little to no clean up. To include energy modeling into my bag of design tricks (which I most certainly want to do), then my old efficiencies are now hindrances. I need to be more deliberate with my fills in composites so that my 2D clean up for details is minimized. I expect this revision to my template to be annoying at first as I figure out how to make sure this change still gives me the prettiness that I want at the scales that matter. But in the end, I’ll have intelligence and beauty. And who doesn’t want that?

Sustainable Design SoftwareAs an aside, perhaps this post on adding legibility to details has the answers we need for updating our template to make EcoDesigner STAR requirements integral to our working methods while also preserving (or enhancing) the beauty of the 2D documents.

Since I’m updating my template to be both functional for energy analysis and pretty for tradition printed drawings, I should spend the time to define default thermal properties for the fills I typically use. Doing it right once means my template is set up and the time it takes to run a basic Thermal Bridging Simulation will approach ZERO. To get the most benefit from EcoDesigner STAR, you need revise how you typically model—and that means updating your template. Yes that’ll mean more work, but the pay-off promises to be HUGE.

I’ll surely tweak this diagram and devote an entire blog post to it later either here or at Shoegnome.


  1. Jeremiah Gammond

    Thanks for the post Jared. As someone who’s in the middle of taking a Certified Passive House Designer course, I can see the real potential in these tools, particularly the built-in thermal bridge analysis. The psi value is critical in determining the effects of thermal bridges in the total energy demand of a building, particularly in very efficient buildings such as Passive Houses. I can now also see the importance of a very thoroughly considered template. Put that on my to-do list!

  2. Jared Banks

    My pleasure. Templates are the key to everything!


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