Question-and-Answer Resource for the Building Energy Modeling Community
Get started with the Help page
Ask Your Question

how to design the columns and beams?

asked 2014-11-18 14:37:04 -0500

Stephanie12 gravatar image

updated 2015-07-26 18:12:49 -0500

Hello, The subject of my thesis has to do with this program. I started designing the building in the google sketchup and my question is how to design the columns and beams? all the videos I've seen there are no columns and beams, only walls. If I design the building with only the walls will affect the results in terms of energy?

I hope I was clear. for any clarification on my question, let me know

Thanks in advance.

edit retag flag offensive close merge delete


From an energy modeling standpoint the structural members of the building (beams and columns) matter if they create thermal bridges through the building envelope. Search for "thermal bridges" in the context of energy modeling.

Also, please move the question about constructions in OpenStudio into a separate question (this site does 1 question per...question).

aparker gravatar imageaparker ( 2014-11-18 15:41:02 -0500 )edit

@Stephanie12 if you move the construction portion to a new question, I'll move the answer there as well.

David Goldwasser gravatar imageDavid Goldwasser ( 2014-11-18 15:43:12 -0500 )edit

I just want to know if the different in the results, it will be huge without columns and beams?

Stephanie12 gravatar imageStephanie12 ( 2014-11-18 15:58:42 -0500 )edit

@Stephanie12, the answer, as ever, is "it depends".

rpg777 gravatar imagerpg777 ( 2014-11-18 16:02:43 -0500 )edit

I am not an architect and Ι trying to learn the google sketchup on my own. If I want to design the columns and beams, how can this be done? And if this will be, how I will design the walls with the correct thickness;

Stephanie12 gravatar imageStephanie12 ( 2014-11-18 16:10:09 -0500 )edit

4 Answers

Sort by » oldest newest most voted

answered 2014-11-18 19:31:53 -0500

updated 2014-11-19 10:31:51 -0500

If I understand your question correctly you're interested in investigating the energy effects of different structural components of a building's construction. With that in mind here's some information that might be helpful:

As you may know the OpenStudio SketchUp Plugin is primarily used to create geometry for a building energy model. EnergyPlus, the simulation engine that OpenStudio uses, doesn't require the user to explicitly define 3D surfaces. Instead, 2D surfaces are assigned constructions which are made up of layers of materials. The properties of these individual materials, including thickness, are what determines the the energy performance of the building envelope.

In other words, it's not necessary to create beams and columns in the OpenStudio SketchUp Plugin to simulate the energy performance - all that's required is a 2D OpenStudio surface created in SketchUp. Once you migrate to the OpenStudio Application to finish the model you can define the properties of your beam and column construction(s).

Note that this will require an understanding of conduction heat transfer in order to properly define the overall thermal properties of the beam and column ceiling, floor, and/or wall construction (including air gaps, insulation, etc.). Here are some previous questions that might help:

edit flag offensive delete link more


Hi, I don't exactly understand when you say "You need a 2D Surface created in Sketchup", I mean, you must create a surface in another surface representing the beam? Otherwise, I don't know how can you define the construction of the beam if you don't represent de 2D surface in Sketchup.

nernevera gravatar imagenernevera ( 2017-12-11 13:12:04 -0500 )edit

answered 2014-11-21 09:31:09 -0500

BC Hydro has a published the Building Envelope Thermal Bridging Guide that is a very comprehensive guide to modeling thermal bridging in buildings.

edit flag offensive delete link more

answered 2014-11-18 16:01:57 -0500

Another consideration regarding beams, columns, and other interior geometry is how all of those elements affect the penetration and distribution of the daylighting.(!) OpenStudio provides a few objects to facilitate this simulation, namely the "Air Wall" OpenStudio construction, and interior partition surface objects. When these objects are used, and Radiance is the chosen daylight simulation engine, the model will more accurately reflect the actual building geometry.

edit flag offensive delete link more

answered 2014-12-09 19:26:32 -0500

marika gravatar image

Going back to the answer above.. "Once you migrate to the OpenStudio Application to finish the model you can define the properties of your beam and column construction(s)".

Clearly it's not necessary to create beams and columns in the OpenStudio SketchUp Plugin to simulate the energy performance... but I don't understand how to include heat losses due to thermal bridges in OpenStudio because in my case they are significant.. it's a single family apartment alterning a concrete frame of beams and coloumns withouth insulation with (no-structural) insulated bricks wall .. do you think that a good way is modelling walls accounting of overall U-Value (U-Walls * area fraction + U-FrameStructure * area fraction) or is there another way that I'm missing, for example adding thermal bridge coefficient (Ψ-value) in some way ? thanks in advance for your help

edit flag offensive delete link more


This is a question, not an answer. You're more likely to get an answer if you open a new question.

Jamie Bull gravatar imageJamie Bull ( 2014-12-11 07:23:44 -0500 )edit

Your Answer

Please start posting anonymously - your entry will be published after you log in or create a new account.

Add Answer


Question Tools



Asked: 2014-11-18 14:37:04 -0500

Seen: 802 times

Last updated: Dec 09 '14