Digital Twin Technology and LIDAR Scanning to Monitor and Manage Energy Usage

From LiDAR Scan to Digital Twin: A Snapshot of the Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace (IW) at Margaret Morrison Hall Model in Revit. Image credit: Tannaz Afshar Bakeshloo.

Two research projects take a closer look at how Digital Twin technology monitors and manages energy usage and assists in facilities management and how iOS devices scan architectural structures and create Revit models for twin creation.

Volpatt Construction, a leading commercial contractor in Western Pennsylvania, today announced the initiation of research in conjunction with UrsaLeo and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Tannaz Afshar Bakeshloo, a PhD student in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Management program at the CMU School of Architecture, is working on two research projects. One focuses on the use of Digital Twin technology from San Francisco-based UrsaLeo. The research takes a closer look at how digital twins can monitor and manage energy usage as well as assist in facilities management.

3D LIDAR scanning technology from OpalAI is also being tested in the research. The project focuses on using a LIDAR enabled iOS device to assist in the creation of a Revit file which is then converted into a Digital Twin. To date, the researcher has scanned multiple spaces throughout the city of Pittsburgh. The scans include a church, now occupied by Abiding Missions in Allentown, that was built in the late 1800s. The Revit file is being used by LGA Partners, an architecture, interiors, and planning firm in Pittsburgh, to help plan for the renovation of the Abiding Missions space.

The technology was also used to scan and create a Revit file for CMUs Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace (IW) and a residential condominium complex.

OpalAI’s Scanto3D app, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), allows anyone with LiDAR-enabled iPhone/iPad Pro devices to generate a floorplan in AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp, and other CAD/BIM formats with a simple walkthrough.

“Decarbonization is becoming more than just a buzzword with organizations taking a closer look at how technology can be used to monitor and manage energy usage,” said Michael Volpatt, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at Volpatt Construction. “Thinking about how we close out construction, hand over a building and all of the documentation related to the structure is also playing a role in the research. We are excited to share what we learn this summer with the industry at large.”

The Digital Twin research takes a closer look at what data/information should be collected, visualized, and used to help monitor and manage energy usage. The IW sits atop Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall and is a living laboratory that is continually updated to feature advanced systems, components and materials for research and exploration purposes.

“We are excited about the application of digital twin technology and its applications in the area of decarbonization, building information and facilities management,” said John Burton, CEO of UrsaLeo. “Much of what we are focusing on this summer will help to further inform our product roadmap for architecture, engineering, and construction as well as facilities management.”