Get Started

After downloading CEA, users can manage the content of their case studies with the help of a GIS environment such as ArcGIS or a DBf reader. In the following chapters, users will be supplied with the needed information to get started with the
CEA Toolbox.

In this topic:

ArcScene interface

This chapter introduces the ArcScene interface as the base platform for the CEA Toolbox plugin. ArcScene is a 3D visualization application that allows users to view GIS data in three dimensions. ArcScene allows to overlay many layers of data in a 3D environment. It is one of the main components in ArcGIS software, which is Geographic Information System (GIS) for working with maps and geographic information. The version of ArcGIS introduced in this manual is 10.4. 

For more information on ArcScene and ArcGIS, please check this link.

Let's take a look at what ArcScene looks like. As a first step, open ArcScene 10.4, the following screen will appear:

In this tutorial, we will not go into detail about the functionality of ArcScene. Instead, we will introduce the basics needed to be able to work with CEA Toolbox. The main components to focus on are the following:


1. Visualization toolbar: Mainly used for controlling the view of the project, using tools such as "Orbit", "Zoom" or "Pan". It also allows to select various buildings in the scene.

2. Table of Contents: This section allows to control the layers chosen to be visualized, Users are able to change how each layer will look like and which visualization mode to choose. As well as open tables with the properties and data stored in each layer

3. Main Canvas: Here is where users can see the 3D visualization of the different layers

4. Catalog: This section contains the location of the CEA Toolbox and where the reference files (or cases) are located

CEA Toolbox

This chapter represents a walk through the CEA Toolbox. It provides the main information needed to create a quick and successful simulation. However, it does not provide detailed information for creating different scenarios or changing the properties of an existing project. For this level of detail, please refer to the simulation chapter.

Note: scenarios in this manual context refers to the different simulation cases or iterations. The base scenario, which you would download from GitHub, is located in a folder called reference-case. The base scenario in this folder, which we will use in this example, is called baseline.

Connecting to the scenario folder

As a first step, connect your Reference Folder or the Scenario Folder you will be working with. For this exercise, you may use the reference folder provided on GitHub. In order to connect the folder, follow the steps below:

1. Go to "Folder Connections"

2. Rigth-Click and choose "Connect to Folder"

In this case, we created a scenario folder called "reference-case" and placed it in :\C. This folder should contain all the scenarios developed. For now, we have only one scenario, which we called "baseline". Therefore, we will connect to the main folder, i.e. :\C\reference-case, by selecting the folder and then clicking "OK", as follows:

Now we have the reference case ready, you can find it under the "Folder Connections" in the "Catalog" menu.

Scenario folder structure

Let's take a quick look at the components of the featured main reference case (in this case, we named the main case "baseline").

The reference case, or any scenario folder for that matter, is composed of two main folders, i.e. Inputs and Outputs. The Inputs folder contains data related to the buildings geometry, buildings properties and terrain, while the Outputs folder contains the results as raw data and plots. The following image clarifies the folder structure:

The following image shows more in detail the content of the folders and sub-folders of the reference case:

Below is a detailed description of each component:

Inputs (Contains the files which the user needs to acquire before starting the simulation with CEA)

Building geometry

  1. district: For this specific case, this shape file contains the geometric data of 1482 buildings in the city center of Zurich.
  2. zone: The in-focus zone of study, which is composed of 274 buildings.

Building properties

  1. age: This shape file contains information on each buildings age, when it was built, and if any of its component was refurbished and the date of the refurbishment.
  2. occupancy: This shape file contains informaiton on the typology of each building.
  3. supply_systems: This shape file contains properties of the energy supply systems for each building.


  1. terrain: Contains the topogtaphic information stored.

Outputs (Stores all the results from simulations with CEA in the corresponding folders)

  1. data: Contains the raw data of the demand and emissions results, as well as the data of the solar radiation on each building surface.
  2. plots: Contains the simulation results, visualized in graphs, heatmaps or timeseries.

Working with the CEA Toolbox

Go to the "Catalog" Menu, and locate the CEA Toolbox. You will find it under "Toolboxes"--->"My Toolboxes"--->"City Energy Analyst.pyt"

Once you click on the "City Energy Analyst.pyt", a dropdown menu with the CEA Toolbox main components will appear.