by Dušan Cvetković
Dušan Cvetković
Published January 29, 2021

If you're looking to incorporate environmental analysis with Ladybug into your workflow, you're in the right place. In this post, we're going to talk explain Ladybyg, a free and open-source software which optimizes architectural and urban design projects. 

In particular, we are going to walk you through the process of working with Sun Path Diagrams, temperature diagrams and doing Sunlight Hours analysis.

Introduction to Ladybug Tools

Environmental analysis with Ladybug is done through a collection of tools which are free for use. Ladybug tools allow us to import and analyze EPW (EnergyPlus Weather) Files that help us create energy-efficient spaces. 

It includes applications such as Ladybug, Honeybee, Butterfly and Fragonfly. Each of these has a unique set of capabilities to optimize environmental design. 

Before we dive in, make sure you have Ladybug Tools installed. Download them from the official Ladybug Tools website. In addition to this, you need an EPW map, which has all the weather files necessary for location-specific analysis. 

Environmental analysis with Ladybug - Installation

Creating Sun Path Diagrams

We're going to use Rhino and Grasshopper in order to create a Sun Path Diagram for a a sample building, which is surrounded by several other buildings. 

Firstly, open up Grasshopper and initiate the Ladybug component. Next, import the EPW file using the component "Ladybug_Import EPW". This is a file that contains weather and location data, including latitudes, longitudes, time zones, elevation. All these inputs are necessary to create an accurate environmental diagram. 

To go forward with creating a Sun Path Diagram, we'll use the component "Ladybug_SunPath". This tool determines the position of the Sun at different points in time and year. Analysis Perion is the input we will use to specify the exact timeframe for our study. For example, we will analyze the position of the Sun from noon to 3PM, from January 31st to May.

We will also specify the Center Point of our location, as well as "North Direction". We need to connect the Location input from "ImportEPW to Location input in the SunPath component. With this, we will generate a sun path diagram with will show the sun position over our building in different times of the specific period of analysis.

Creating Sun Path Diagram

The Sun Path Diagram tool helps us understand the exposure of our building to sunlight, an input that is essential for energy efficiency, comfort and daylight availability.

Temperature Diagrams

Apart from what we've mentioned so far, we can use Ladybug tools to create temperature diagrams. This diagram represent different temperatures with different colors, which allows for easier understanding of how the temperature changes. 

Environmental analysis with Ladybug - Temperature Diagram

Sunlight Hours Analysis

This is another crucial tool for architectural professionals. With the component "Ladybug_Sunlight Hours", we can define how many hours of sunlight our building is going to received during a particular time period we pre-defined. 

Before we get started, we need to establish the geometry and context of our analysis. With the Geometry parameter, we will define the area for analysis, and with Context we will include whatever surrounding elements are going to affect the distribution of sunlight. 

To customize the analysis, we will add a couple of other parameters. Grid Size determines the resolution - the smaller the grid size, the more detailed the analysis. 

"Distance from base" parameter establishes the height at which the analysis will be conducted. Furthermore, we can define the sun vector parameter. This parameter gives us the precise sun positions over the period we specified. 

Sunlight Hours Analysis

Sunlight Hours Analysis is particularly useful because it allows us to make informed decisions about our design. That is to say, it allows us to optimize to usage of natural light, an what's more, control the cost of heating and cooling.

Environmental Analysis with Ladybug - Final Thoughts

With the steps we've outlined, you can see the entire process of environmental analysis with Ladybug. From creating Sun Path Diagrams to doing detailed sunlight analysis, we've demonstrated the advantages of the Ladybug Tools. 

With this in mind, don't forget that there are also other amazing possibilities of Ladybug Tools. These include radiation analysis, shadow analysis, view analysis, etc. which you can check out in extended tutorials on our Patreon page

You may want to consider becoming our Patreon, as these features will gain you full control over the environmental design process and presentation techniques.

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About the Author

Dušan Cvetković is a professional architect from Serbia and official Authorized Rhino Trainer 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.