by Dušan Cvetković
Dušan Cvetković
Published January 29, 2021

Environmental analysis is an important part of the architectural design process. It allows architects to simulate how a building will interact with its environment in terms of daylight, energy use, ventilation, and more. Honeybee is one of the most powerful environmental analysis plugins available for Rhino. In this article, we'll take a look at how Honeybee can be used to run annual daylight simulations.

What is Honeybee?

Honeybee is an open-source plugin for Rhino and Grasshopper that allows users to run a variety of environmental analysis simulations. It connects Grasshopper to validated simulation engines like EnergyPlus, Radiance, Daysim, and OpenStudio. The extensive analysis capabilities of Honeybee make it one of the most popular environmental design plugins for architects and designers.

Environmental Analysis with Honeybee - Example

Why Use Honeybee for Daylighting Analysis?

Honeybee enables highly accurate annual daylighting simulations using the Radiance and Daysim engines. Daylighting analysis with Honeybee can help architects optimize the design of their building's fenestration and facades. The annual simulations take into account the sun's changing path and sky conditions throughout the year. This data can be used to identify areas with good daylight access versus areas that will require artificial lighting. Honeybee also generates visualizations that clearly show daylight levels across the building over the course of a year.

Running an Annual Daylight Simulation with Honeybee

In this tutorial, we will run a simple annual daylight analysis on a single-zone building. Here are the key steps:

  • Set up the Honeybee components - The first step is to connect the Honeybee components in Grasshopper, including "Honeybee_Radiance Daylight Simulation", "Honeybee_Generate Test Points" and "Honeybee_Read Annual Result".
  • Create the building geometry - Next, we need to build the zone geometry that will be analyzed. This includes the room itself and any window or opening surfaces. The closed brep geometry gets connected to the "Honeybee_Radiance Daylight Simulation" component.
  • Select the weather file - Honeybee needs a weather file (EPW format) to run the annual simulation. This can be selected from EnergyPlus. The weather file location gets linked to the "Honeybee_Radiance Daylight Simulation" component.
Selecting weather file
  • Generate test points - The "Honeybee_Generate Test Points" component creates a grid of test points within the zone. This defines the points where daylight levels will be calculated.
  • Run the annual daylight simulation - With all the inputs connected, we can now run the annual simulation by setting the "Honeybee_Radiance Daylight Simulation" toggle to "True". Depending on the complexity, it may take a while for the simulation to complete.
  • Visualize the results - The "Honeybee_Read Annual Result" component reads the simulation results and generates a visualization showing the annual daylight levels across the zone geometry.
Environmental Analysis

By following these steps, architects can start to get detailed data on the daylight performance of their building designs in Rhino and Grasshopper. The ability to simulate annual daylight access makes Honeybee an extremely valuable tool for sustainable daylighting design.

More Environmental Analysis with Honeybee

The example above only begins to scratch the surface of the capabilities of environmental analysis with Honeybee. Some other analyses that can be run include:

  • Energy modeling for predicting energy use and costs.
  • Thermal comfort modeling showing humidity and temperature.
  • CFD simulations to analyze ventilation and airflow.
  • Acoustic modeling for predicting sound transmission.
  • Glare analysis for visual comfort.

Honeybee also integrates with other tools like Ladybug and Butterfly for urban scale modeling and analysis. Its open-source nature means it is constantly evolving with new features added over time. Architects interested in performance-driven design should consider adding Honeybee to their environmental analysis toolkit.

Try Environmental Analysis with Honeybee Today

Honeybee is a free, open-source plugin that works with both Rhino and Grasshopper. You can download it from Food4Rhino. To learn more about environmental analysis with Honeybee, check out the Honeybee website. What kind of environmental analysis will you try first with Honeybee?

Grasshopper Complete Course

Grasshopper Complete Course Pacakge

Give your architectural skills a boost with the Grasshopper Complete Course. Get over 50 hours of comprehensive Grasshopper training tailored for architects. Learn to generate and iterate designs faster. Click here for more information and streamline your workflows!

About the Author

Dušan Cvetković is a professional architect from Serbia with international experience in the industry. Collaborated with numerous clients all around the world in the field of architecture design, 3D modeling and software education. He's been teaching Rhinoceros3D to thousands of architects through How to Rhino community and various social media channels.