An investigation into the methods to facilitate understanding of the use of energy simulation program by architects in the early design stage

Open Access
Bambardekar, Suhas S
Graduate Program:
Master of Architecture
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 11, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Ute Poerschke, Thesis Advisor
  • early design stage
  • energy simulation
  • energy analysis
  • architects
Energy modeling or simulation is the practice of using computerized simulation programs to model the energy and environmental performance of an entire building or the systems within a building. Researchers concur that architects should use the energy simulation programs as a potential design decision support tool, especially in the early design stages, where the time and budgetary constraints often preclude the objective performance feedback from engineers and energy simulation experts who regularly perform energy simulation and where such objective performance feedback can have substantial influence on the overall energy and environmental performance of the final building. However, user surveys assessing simulation uptake by architects have shown that energy simulation is rarely employed by architects in practice. A literature review of these surveys indicated design process related, software related, and user related issues responsible for their limited uptake. Of these, very limited research is focused on the user related issues: enhancing the level of understanding of energy simulation of architects and the ways to facilitate this understanding. The research presented in this thesis proposes the formulation of a simulation tool independent guide to address the user related issue and gives an overview of the topics to be included in this guide. The topics chosen were based on the analysis of the author’s experience of a performed test design and the issues identified through literature review of the user surveys. The topics discussed for inclusion in the guide are: an introduction to simulation; defining the simulation scope; selection of energy simulation programs; defining simulation model and performing simulation; quality assurance and program validation; and data analysis and interpretation. Of these, ‘defining the simulation scope’ was perceived as one of the important topics influencing the modeling and simulation strategy and the selection of energy simulation programs and hence, was further analyzed. A simulation tool independent framework is proposed and developed to facilitate the formulation of the simulation scope. The framework is a visual representation of the inter-relationship between the design inquiries in the early design stage, simulation tasks and the related performance parameters to be simulated by energy simulation programs for deriving decision support for the design inquiries.