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Building energy model software

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Abstract[edit]

This page is intended to be used as a resource for selecting building energy modeling software solutions. Most software packages perform very specific tasks, suggesting that a number of different packages be used to obtain accurate results for a desired project. Not all software packages are free of charge, but often demos may be obtained. Please refer to each package's corresponding link for more information.

Software Comparison[edit]

The following chart compares a number of available software packages. Open source packages are noted under the cost column.

Note: A * means that the program has support for the import of external CAD data. The required file format is also given.

Building Energy Modeling Software
Name Cost/Open Source Basic Description Abilities Outputs LIDAR Integration Potential
1D-HAM[1] $420, cheaper school licences are available 1D-HAM is a piece of software which solves one dimensional coupled heat, air and moisture transport problems in a multi-layered porous wall. The program is based on the finite difference technique and moisture is assumed to be transferred by diffusion and convection in the vapour phase. Furthermore, it is assumed that no liquid water transport occurs and that heat is transferred via conduction, convection and latent heat. Climatic data can be inputted through a data file (maximum resolution of values/hour/year). Surface solar radiation absorption is also accounted for. The program can output user defined charts and text output of temperatures, relative humidities and moisture content. The data can be presented in either SI units or in BTU. Building geometries are constructed internally within the program. It is not possible to directly import geometry data generated by other CAD programs, meaning that LIDAR data would have to be reconstructed within the program.
3E Plus[2] Free of charge 3E Plus is an energy management tool designed to simplify the task of determining how much insulation is necessary to use less energy, reduce plant emissions and improve process efficiency. The software analyzes input data including base metal type, various process and operating temperatures, wind speed, pipe size, surface geometry, fuel type, annual operation hours and the type of insulation. The provided report tells the user how much insulation is necessary in the form of a preformatted report. This report can be exported to a spreadsheet. The output provides valuable information for insulation requirements of pipes, ducts, tanks and boilers. 3E Plus relates specifically to insulation levels. Therefore, LIDAR data is not directly applicable to the program. However, using the data combined with a building blueprint, the required input parameters could be determined.
AAMASKY[3] $50 from the American Architectural Manufactures Association AAMASKY is a software package which analyzes component and total heating, cooling and lighting energy consumption in relation to skylights. It can also provide hourly and monthly pattern of illumination levels for daylighting. By inputting parameters including commercial building design and lighting requirements (including area, skylight area and properties, occupancy schedule, geographical location), the software is able to inform the user of optimal skylight designs. The program provides guidance for optimal skylight selection, annual heating, annual cooling, lighting energy requirements and monthly/hourly plots of daylight levels. AAMASKY only requires basic information about the building structure. Other requirements can be obtained without input from additional LIDAR data.
TREAT[4] $495, with discounts available for government agencies and non-profit organizations TREAT allows users to calculate energy savings for individual improvements or assemble improvements interactively. The software includes a building component library and automatically calculates payback and SIR. The software integrates fuel bill analysis, weather data and building modelling information into a single database. The program includes room-by-room heat loss analysis using an hourly energy consumption model. User may also calculate existing electrical energy consumption resulting from appliances and lighting and select replacements (Energy Star lighting and appliances are included in the component libraries). Lifestyle savings (resulting from recommended changes in occupant behaviour), building energy model, suggested improvements, energy savings from retrofit. TREAT utilizes its own component database in order to construct building geometry, suggesting that LIDAR data would need to be modeled separately, within the program.
AIRWIND Pro[5] $230/year for 1-5 users AIRWIND Pro computes building air conditioning cooling and heating loads (in either Imperial or SI units). Projects may be drawn directly in the program with any number of walls/rooms arranged at any angle, including any mix of construction materials. All required data is included and supplied along with the main program (includes a total of over 650 user accessible and editable databases). Preformatted printed reports (exportable to any word processing software package), computer generate graphical images, drawings and photographs
AGI32[6] $1295 for a single user license AGI32 is a 3D lighting design and rendering software package. It is used for electric and daylight analysis. Complex architectural environments can be created internally or externally (with import support for DWG and DXF files). A comprehensive library of lighting products is included. Basic inputs include project dimensions/design and light fitting data. Advanced analysis requires surface colour, reflectance, texture and 3D models (optional). Numeric results of illuminance, luminance, and exitance. More elaborate outputs include full CAD style drawing.
AIRPAK[7] Contact Fluent for licensing information. AIRPAK is a powerful airflow modeling tool. It allows the user to accurately model airflow, heat transfer, contaminant transport and thermal comfort in a given ventilation system. It is best suited for use in ventilation system redesign situations. Models can be constructed using AIRPAK’s building tools or with imported CAD drawings. Inputs include ventilation system design (types, flowrates, temperatures, locations of air inlet diffusers and exhausts), thermal boundary conditions (from heating loads such as occupants, lighting, equipment, solar loads), humidity and contaminant boundary conditions. Colour animations, pictures, and plots of ventilation airflows depicting airflow patterns, air turbulence, room air distribution, temperature distribution, thermal comfort conditions and contaminant distribution.
Energy AUDIT[8] $495-$795, depending on requirements. A demo is available online. Energy AUDIT is used to show homeowners and business managers how much a new, efficient condensing unit will save them. The software is capable of calculating monthly and annual heating and cooling costs, simulating most types of HVAC systems and analyzing appliances and hot water costs. It is capable of handling both simple and complex utility rate structures. Economic comparisons of various HVAC systems are also possible. System comparisons (HVAC related), appliance analysis reports, loan and lease analysis (for purchasing systems).
Autodesk Green Building Studio[9] Variable/subscription based. Contact AutoDesk for more information (a free trial is available). Green Building Studio is a web-based service which allows the user to link architectural building information models (BIM) and 3D CAD building designs with energy, water and carbon analysis. The program is capable of reading all building geometry produced by a gbXML-enabled BIM or 3D CAD program. With this data it is capable of performing and full thermal situation analysis. The minimum manual inputs required are building type and zip/postal code. Estimated energy and cost summary, annual carbon footprint (specific to region and utility mix), renewable energy potential (photovoltaic and wind), building natural ventilation potential, water and daylighting preliminary analysis (LEED), energy end-use charts
Awnshade[10] Available for download (free of charge) Awnshade calculates the unshaded fraction of a rectangular window for any solar position (with coordinates relative to the window). The program performs calculations for window shading configurations including awnings, side wall/overhangs. It can calculate the unshaded fraction for a sequence of solar positions. Besides the unshaded fraction of a window, the following ouputs can also be obtained:

Effective unshaded fraction of diffuse sky irradiance, illuminance incident on the window, effective ground-reflected unshaded fraction

BASECALC[11] Free of charge BASECALC simulates heat losses from residential foundations. This allows users to access the energy impact of designs as well as insulation strategies. The program performs two steady-state and one transient 2D finite-element calculations and accounts for 3D effects around corners and processes the finite-element results with weather data to predict energy and heat losses. The resulting energy and heat loss data may be represented numerically, in equation form, or graphically. Above-grade and below-grade results are indicate by the program.
BE$T[12] Free of charge BE$T is an energy savings/calculation tool for use with electric motors. This program has the ability to calculate electric motor energy usage and saving potential for a given project. Suggested motor replacements are also provided. The following data can be obtained from BE$T:

Electric motor energy usage, electric motor savings potential. It is also possible to export the data to a spreadsheet.

Be06[13] $415 for initial purchase, then $165 for relicensing each year Be06 calculates the expected energy consumption of the HVAC system of most building types. The software calculates the needed energy supply required for room heating, ventilation, cooling, hot water usage and artificial lighting. These energy requirements can then be compared to the Danish Building Regulations. Basic and complex building energy demand reports, results comparison with Danish Building Regulations (these regulations can be compared with regulations from other countries)

References[edit]

  1. http://www.buildingphysics.com/
  2. http://www.pipeinsulation.org/
  3. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/tools_directory/software.cfm/ID=140/pagename=alpha_list
  4. http://www.psdconsulting.com/software/treat
  5. http://us.mistralassociates.com/
  6. http://www.agi32.com/
  7. http://www.ansys.com/products/airpak/default.asp?name=p1
  8. http://www.elitesoft.com/web/hvacr/elite_auditw_info.html
  9. http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/index?id=11179508&siteID=123112
  10. http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/research/buildings/fenestration/software.htm
  11. http://canmetenergy-canmetenergie.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/eng/software_tools/basecalc.html
  12. http://www.baldor.com/support/software_BEST.asp
  13. http://www.en.sbi.dk/miljo-og-energi/energiberegning/anvisning-213-bygningers-energibehov