Solar and Energy Analysis

Now that the model has been created we can utilize it to study the solar and energy impact of our design. These features are built into FormIt so your earliest studies can be understood from a building performance perspective. These features are FormIt Pro only, if you are following along on the web app, you may not have access.

If you did not complete the last section, click the File > Open and choose farnsworth08.axm from the FormIt Primer folder.


Before any of these analysis tools can be used, you need to set the location. This gives FormIt access to accurate sun, shadows and climate data

  1. Click on the Sun Icon in the Action Tool Bar and check on Shadows (DS)

  2. Adjust the Day and Time sliders to see how the shadows change

  3. Notice how the covered terrace is shaded during the hottest hours of the summer months – surely not an accident, but a matter of design!

Note: Shadows may cause a decrease in application performance. Two suggestions for mitigating this: turn shadows off if you notice navigation getting slow; or turn layers like furniture off if they aren't necessary for studying shadows

Solar Analysis

Being visual people, designers can learn and communicate an incredible amount of information from heat map diagrams like the one we're about to create

  1. At the bottom of the Sun menu, click the Solar Analysis button

  2. You are put into a special mode where shadows, keyboard shortcuts, and other toolbars are disabled

  3. The selection behavior is modified in Solar Analysis mode. You can select through groups, you don't need to hold down Ctrl or Shift to add to your selection set, and you can unselect items by clicking them again. You can Single click, double click, or window select geometry

  4. Choose the faces you want to study. Single click the top of the roof, and the top of the floors. Avoid selecting small elements like furniture

  5. In the top, left corner of the canvas find the Solar Analysis toolbar. Click Analyze. FormIt will calculate and render the surfaces. The settings here can be adjusted before and after the analysis finishes

  6. The Month Peak setting shows the peak values (in BTU / sq ft) for the specified month. This is intended for shading studies. You can change the month setting and the graphics update instantly. Hover your cursor over an analyzed surface to get a specific value

  7. The Year Cumulative setting shows the cumulative energy for the entire year (in KwH / sq m). This is intended for PV potential studies

  8. These Solar Analysis studies can be exported by clicking File > Export (Ctrl + E) and choosing Image from the list on the left

Energy Analysis with Insight

FormIt has integrated the same Building Performance analysis tools that Revit uses. Insight provides a dashboard of building system parameters that be can be adjusted to reflect potential scenarios without requiring you to re-analyze model geometry. Insight works best with FormIt massing geometry

  1. Make sure you are logged into your Autodesk account. Turn off all of the layers except for the massing layer. Your geometry must have at least one Level applied

  2. FormIt will only send visible geometry to Insight. Note that even a simple mass will yield a trove of data from Insight

  3. Click the Insight > Generate Insight button. The analysis will run in the cloud, so you can continue to model during the computation

  4. Once the analysis is complete, click the View Insight button to see your Energy model and Performance Factors (optionally, you can visit the website directly at

  5. On the Insight dashboard, you can set a value (or a value range) for each Performance Factor widget by clicking the factor and dragging the blue dots. The range is helpful if you don't know the specific system your building will use yet

  6. With each change to a Factor the overall Energy Cost Range (measured in USD / sq m / yr) updates. You can see your design's performance against benchmarks like Ashrae 90.1 and the Architecture 2030 challenge

  7. If your design changes form drastically - then you can re-send the updated mass to the same dashboard. If you want to create a new dashboard for the updated design, then you will need to Save As in FormIt first

  8. If your Energy Analysis is unsuccessful - you may have geometry based Watertight Issues (DW) these can be reviewed and fixed in FormIt

  9. Turn the massing layer off and turn all of the other layers back on