Weekly Workflow: Converting Units in Power BI

Data in Power BI can be thought of as “Read Only”, meaning that it is not possible to make changes to the values in your data once it is imported. This can cause some confusion regarding unit conversion and other simple calculations among new users, but Power BI provides an easy to use solution: Custom Columns.

Unit conversion is commonly required for Tracer for Revit databases that have been exported from models that are set to metric units. Revit’s underlying units are based on decimal feet (Imperial units) even when a model is set metric-based. These “decimal feet” unit values are harvested by Tracer during the export process, and need to be converted in Power BI in order to display the data in metric units.

To create a custom column, select “New Column” in Power BI, and apply the appropriate multiplication factor in the column definition formula. For example, to convert a field from square feet to square meters, you can divide by 10.764. To provide another example, you can convert linear meters to feet by multiplying by 3.28084. Other conversion values can be readily found online.

Check out the tutorial below for a step-by-step demonstration. Here are a few more Power BI Concepts and Tips that can help you get started!

What now?