Interactive 3D Visualization of Building Envelope Systems Using Infrared Thermography and SketchUp

Introduction

Original IR image from FLIR camera
Original IR image from FLIR camera

Proper insulation, durability, air and moisture tightness are key elements for a comfortable and energy efficient building. As a result, it is important to have a continuous, stable, and integral boundary between the conditioned interior spaces and the unconditioned outdoors spaces. It is common today for many professional home inspectors and energy auditors to use infrared imaging technology to evaluate the performance of this “thermal envelope” in the process of conducting energy auditing of homes and buildings.

Common drawbacks of the current application of infrared thermography are that while it provides usable temperature data and renders false-color images, these images are only two-dimensional and in most cases of a very low resolution. In presenting the thermography images to a client, they can be confusing to an untrained eye. Also, the three-dimensionality of a building cannot fully be captured by individual images.

This project discusses the application of the visualization capabilities of IR in conjunction with three-dimensional models of buildings. Three-dimensional modeling is a powerful tool for visualizing and representing building conditions that is used by architects, builders, and contractors. Also, a three-dimensional model is better understandable than a more abstract two-dimensional representation (like a floor plan or an image).

A method will be presented (see paper below) to apply IR images to simplified exterior and interior digital models of a building using the freely available 3D modeler Google SketchUp. A variety of common application scenarios will be presented and examples for these will be shown. In addition, the viability of exploring the 3D model interactively and on the web will be discussed.

Documents

Videos

VRML Viewer

If you have a VRML viewer installed (like Cortona), then you can visit a 3D model of the residential house using the link below. Use the viewer’s controls to spin the model around and examine it.

Link to VRML model

Update: A better way to view this is using WebGL, as described here.

Links