Using Revit to Improve Building Design

January 25, 2023

By: Gillian Daley deGroot, C.E.T., LEED® AP

Revit is a Building Information Modelling (BIM) software that designers use to model the physical geometry of a building in 3D, allowing engineers to better coordinate services between disciplines and provide more innovative design solutions. The software can collect essential data, such as airflow rates, to inform decision-making early in the design process. BIM software provides the opportunity to create detailed modelling of various building elements, including mechanical ducts and piping, electrical panels, lighting, and structural components. An integrated model can be used to reduce the number of changes required during construction since architects, designers, and even owners can visualize the building and its services during design.

What is Revit?

BIM software, including Revit, can be used to create detailed visual representations of building geometry and systems. The coordination tools that are available in 3D models allow for better decision-making and provide opportunities to identify cost-saving or sustainable design options early on in a project. The ability to visualize the building and systems at scale in 3D gives engineers and architects a greater understanding of the real-world applications of their designs. The other major benefit of building information modelling lies in the information and data component. Design data that would normally reside in spreadsheets, separate schedules, and specifications can be integrated or even calculated in Revit. This allows all disciplines to access accurate shared data. Equipment information can be pulled directly from the modelled components and displayed in tables, allowing the drawing plans and schedules to always be in sync.

Understanding the differences between AutoCAD vs. Revit

Simply put, AutoCAD is a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software used as a tool to create drawings, while Revit is a software used to create information models. Although often used together, the two have a vastly different range of capabilities in integrating and calculating data. At Williams Engineering (WE), AutoCAD is used primarily with existing infrastructure projects requiring renovation and to convey typical details and schematics. Revit is more commonly used for new construction buildings and is quickly becoming the standard for projects of all sizes. For example, Revit models can ensure  mechanical ductwork will not interfere with the structural or electrical components, offering a much more integrated approach to design development. For certain projects, it is often valuable to use  BIM software alongside  CAD software to double-check conflicts, ensure buildings are optimized for their unique operational requirements and decrease any risk of re-work later in the project. The use of AutoCAD-generated drawings is limited after construction is complete. Models developed in Revit can be passed to building operators after construction and used in facility operations, ensuring the wealth of data gathered in design is not lost.

How REVIT Influences the Design Process

REVIT is extremely collaborative and integrates the design process with all disciplines involved at the  beginning of a project. Higher levels of collaboration allows engineers and architects to solve potential issues quickly, resulting in fewer corrections and revisions. This approach encourages all disciplines to work closely together to achieve a building’s design and performance goals while increasing sustainability and efficiency. Using 3D software ensures a design team can fully comprehend how difficult it may be to fit equipment into a building which may not have been easily discovered using 2D drawings.

A Revit model can showcase how the building systems are integrated with the architecture, allowing clients understand how their building will function and meet its occupants’ needs. Designers at Williams Engineering (WE) use the data gathered from the modelling process to perform early-stage energy analysis and predict building performance during and after construction to promote the most environmentally responsible solution possible. This methodology of engineering design results in cost-effective construction, operation, and maintenance of both new and existing infrastructure.

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