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A fully-integrated lighting calculation tool for Autodesk® Revit®

Interior and Exterior
The growth of BIM (Building Information Modeling) software is exploding, and in many architectural design and engineering firms, it is almost completely replacing CAD software for the purposes of architectural and building system design. To date, the industry standard illumination design software programs lack the ability to easily exchange information with models in the BIM environment. The reason for this is two-fold; current illumination software utilizes a complete environment approach to the calculation of illuminance which is burdened by the large size of the BIM model, and the complexity of exported geometry from BIM is beyond the needs of practical calculation of workplane or surface illuminance. With today’s illumination design software not getting the job done, there exists a distinct need to quickly compute basic illuminance (fc or lux) from electric and daylight sources within individual environments in a BIM model, and tabulate the results in a way consistent with the behavior of the BIM software.
Introducing ElumTools
ElumTools is a calculation Add-in used to predict the performance of electric lighting systems and daylight for the variety of environments existing within an Autodesk® Revit® project. With ElumTools, the need to utilize external software to compute illuminance from light sources placed in Revit is no longer necessary.
When ElumTools is installed in Revit, it appears with its own tab on the top menu bar. Selecting the ElumTools tab reveals the icons for the various ElumTools commands.
How does ElumTools work?
The entire concept of ElumTools as a Revit Add-in is based around the ability to leverage content that is already present in the Revit model. Utilizing existing content from Revit allows the lighting software functionality to be simplified to only those tasks necessary for the accurate modeling of light.
The accurate calculation of illuminance on a workplane or surface requires the following components: surface geometry, surface reflectance/color, luminaire locations and luminaire photometry. ElumTools is able to extract surface geometry in the form of “Rooms”, “Spaces”, “Areas” and “Filled Regions” defined in Revit.

Surface reflectance and color can be interpreted from the Revit “Graphics Shading” property of the surface and
“mapped” to a more suitable reflectance and/or color as necessary on a material basis, or by entire “Category” such as Ceilings, Walls and Floors.

Luminaire locations already present in Revit are recognized by ElumTools, and photometric file associations are easily created if not already present.
The final step prior to computation is the assignment of calculation points to any surface or workplane to verify illuminance present from the Revit layout of luminaires. This is easily accomplished using ElumTools Calculation Points commands.
With these elements known, ElumTools has the information required to utilize the radiosity process to compute the selected geometry, present an interactive visualization depicting the luminance of all surfaces, and show the illuminance on the selected calculation point locations.
Revit defined boundary representations (Rooms, Spaces, Regions, Areas) can be computed alone or as a group if they contribute light to one another. The computed results are presented in an interactive visualization window. The point-by-point illuminance results can be seen in the visualization as well as directly in the Revit model Views or Sheets of choice. All statistics can be automatically scheduled using an ElumTools command.
Anatomy of a typical workflow
Manage luminaires
This is the process of validating each luminaire family within the Revit model that will be used for lighting calculations. All families must include: a photometric web source type, assignment of a valid photometric file in IES format (IES document LM-63), entry of a light loss factor if other than 1 (initial conditions), and a validity check on lumens, watts and photometric source positioning.
The ElumTools Luminaire Manager provides simple access to most necessary inputs for your luminaire families. The luminaire list can be shortened to show only luminaire families currently in use in the Revit model if desired, and all luminaire instances can be seen from the Instances tab.
Manage materials
In order to perform accurate calculations for the propagation of light within an interior environment it is extremely important to correctly consider the reflectance of the primary surfaces such as ceiling, walls and floors. Transparency is also required to correctly consider light passing through interior or exterior glass for accurate daylight and electric light calculations. ElumTools provides the Material Mapping command to cross reference Revit material properties with ElumTools material properties to ensure surface reflectances and transparencies are set correctly.
The detailed approach is to map all surface properties by material. This is done by setting the dialog in the “View Project Materials” mode. ElumTools has access to the “Graphics Shading” color in Revit for all materials in the model. This provides a starting point for the calculation of surface reflectance from the RGB color.* If the Revit graphics color is not an accurate color from which to calculate reflectance, it is necessary to map that surface to a different and more appropriate color, and hence, a more suitable reflectance. Glass and other translucent or transparent materials must also be mapped to the appropriate surface type in ElumTools for accurate daylighting calculations.
ElumTools also provides the ability to override the materials mapping process and assign reflectances to Revit Categories. This can collectively assign a reflectance to all materials within a category such as “Walls”. Using Category overrides you can easily simplify the task of verifying your surface reflectances. Often it is useful to assign some material properties using the detailed method and others using categories.
Assign calculation areas
ElumTools makes it easy to assign a grid of calculation points to your choice of surfaces and/or work planes in the Revit environment. Simply select the Calculation Points command followed by the Revit boundary representation of interest to place points on a work plane or surface. ElumTools can place points in Revit Rooms, Spaces, Areas and Filled Regions, as well as on Lines. This command will drop an instance of the ElumTools calculation points family within the selected boundary as required. The points will automatically be limited to the Revit boundary. Openings such as windows, doors or holes (Regions) would not be included and could be covered with another instance of the point family if necessary.
ElumTools does more than just calculate illuminance (incident light in fc or lux). You can alternatively compute diffuse luminance, which is reflected light in cd/m2 and is more indicative of what we actually observe. Luminous Exitance can also be selected which, is similar to diffuse luminance but differs in units. Daylight Factor (for overcast skies) and Unified Glare Rating (UGR) are also available.
Calculate selected boundary
Rooms, Spaces, Areas and Filled Regions created by Revit are used as spatial boundaries by ElumTools. If the Revit model does not contain these boundary designations, it is generally only a matter of a few clicks to add them. For exterior site analysis, it will be convenient to use Filled Regions to constrain the calculation points as desired. It is easy to mask areas by creating holes within the region boundary. This technique may also be useful in interiors.
ElumTools calculates boundaries using a single or multiple selection technique. When selecting multiple boundaries, ElumTools allows multiple calculations to be performed simultaneously, yet in separate windows. If environments may exchange light with one another, they can be computed as a single solution including all boundaries. The example shown here is selecting multiple Rooms to be computed individually.
Interactive visualization
ElumTools provides a fully interactive visualization in a pop-up window as a by-product of every calculation. This rendering is designed to allow validation of lighting results (are all my luminaires included?) and a verification of the behavior of light and surface (scalloping from downlights on an adjacent wall). The visualizations are fully navigable and can be reopened when necessary using the Rendering Manager. Lighting designers will appreciate the valuable evaluation tools available such as scaled pseudo-color analysis, radiosity mesh, calculation points visibility and the ability to visualize direct and reflected light separately.
View point-by-point results in Revit
The calculated values for selected metrics (illuminance, luminance, etc.) can be seen directly in Revit. The appearance of the value color can be changed using Revit’s Analysis Visualization Framework (AVF) to scale the gradient of values for improved readability.
ElumTools contains an automated schedule building tool which can build meaningful schedules for your lighting results instantly. Schedules can be easily modified with Revitís scheduling tools.
Emergency lighting calculations
ElumTools supports separate emergency lighting calculations by simply switching the program into “Emergency Mode.” Selected boundaries can be recalculated for only the emergency lighting component. Luminaires can be designated for emergency use by instance parameter and dimmed if necessary, or the luminaire family type can be assigned emergency parameters in Luminaire Manager.
This provides two different workflows for handling the task of emergency calculations. Some will prefer using instance parameters; others will find using designated emergency types to be more efficient. Regardless, it is easy to switch back and forth between Emergency and General Use with a click on the button on the ribbon.

The ElumTools calculation viewer shows an emergency mode calculation in the capture. Switching back to General Use will enable all luminaires, and statistics are tracked and can be scheduled separately.
Layout Assistant
ElumTools can compute luminaire quantity to meet a specific light level (on the floor, workplane or calculation point surface) for any Room, Space, Area or Region using the Layout Assistant. This very handy command in ElumTools will provide a series of estimates and possible luminaire layouts for you to examine and manipulate. Select the layout of choice, compute the actual point-by-point results, AND export the luminaire positions back into Revit. It is a tremendous time saver.

The following steps show the basic Layout Assistant workflow.
  1. Select the boundary (Room or Space in this example).
  2. Select a luminaire instance to be used for the layout, preferrably already hosted in the Room/Space.
  3. Click three corners of a ceiling tile, if present
  4. Click the Layout Assistant button.
  1. Enter the desired illuminance on the floor or workplane, (if calculation points are not already placed in the room, that dialog will appear first to enable points on floor or workplane.)
  2. Layout Assistant generates three estimates, with the current selection highlighted and shown.
  3. If satisfied, run the complete radiosity calculations.
  1. When calculations are complete, the Render tab is enabled with full interactive viewing.
  2. The calculated layout is now the current selection.
  3. New estimates are prepared with more knowledge on how the light and geometry behave. The confidence level is higher.
  4. Adjust the spacing and rows, columns if desired.
  1. Click the OK button to export the luminaire locations and calculations back to the current Revit view.
  1. Here we have new luminaire positions and calculations, all done from the Layout Assistant.
ElumTools is capable of calculating daylight illuminance using the Perez All-Weather Sky model with global weather conditions (TMY2, TMY3) from US-DOE. Daylight can also be combined with electric light to calculate illuminance results due to both sources.
Daylighting is available as a separate mode on the ElumTools ribbon, similar to the Emergency setting. When Daylight mode is selected the Daylight Parameters button becomes visible.
The Daylight Parameters dialog contains all the settings relative to the site location, orientation, date, time and sky conditions. The optional switch to consider electric lighting is also available here.

Current daylight capabilities compute a single date and time when executing the calculate commands.
Additional capabilities
ElumTools can also render the correlated color temperature (CCT) of light sources, accurately simulate colored sources due to filters or otherwise, and ray trace your favorite viewpoints for higher quality visualizations.
ElumTools is exceedingly simple & efficient
The concept of computing the lighting results directly within the Revit environment using a boundary specific methodology fosters a fast and efficient workflow removing the long calculation times associated with the whole-environment approach of external software. Designers can utilize the software as a design tool on an iterative basis as needed. Point-by-point results provide validation of required lighting criteria, and interactive draft visualizations yield an understanding of the lighting system only possible with radiosity rendering.

Unlike many of todayís all-encompassing lighting simulation programs, The ElumTools software is exceptionally intuitive, streamlined and approachable. By design, the software can be productive for any Revit user with basic lighting knowledge, and very little if any training is required.

ElumTools can be licensed on a single user or network basis. An annual subscription plan is available to ensure you receive the next upgrade to the corresponding version of Revit. Licensed users have access to backward releases of ElumTools for use with older Revit projects.
Download a Trial version and take advantage of our learning videos at
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