EnergyPlus Graphical User Interfaces
Many graphical user interfaces for EnergyPlus are available or under development, including Simergy, CYPE CAD MEP, DesignBuilder, EFEN, AECOsim Energy Simulator, Hevacomp, MC4 Suite, SMART ENERGY, EPlusInterface, COMFEN, Solar Shoe Box, and N++.
Building Services of CYPE is a GUI software created for Engineers and Architects. It is primarily used to design buildings according to the building codes from Spain (CTE), Portugal (RCCTE) and France (RT-2005). It has also been developed to calculate the requirements for the energy performance of buildings using EnergyPlus as a calculation engine for the thermal demand of a building.
CYPE exports the building geometry (walls, roofs, floors, windows, areas, etc.) and thermal bridges, calculated according to building code, to IDF format. After the calculations of EnergyPlus have been carried out, CYPE imports the energy demand results. Since the weather data in the software is fully customizable, Building Services can be used by an engineer or architect anywhere in the world.
While importing, with the 3D View button selected, the designer can visualize the geometry and the characteristics of the building that have been exported to EnergyPlus.
Using a single model, the software generates many results, including the analysis of thermal and acoustic behavior, and the design of building services (HVAC, solar energy, plumbing, gas, electricity, etc.). With the button Results selected, the user can calculate the thermal demand of the building using EnergyPlus. The screen displays the following information:
- Percentage of the heating demand of all air-conditioned precincts of the building for a selected day of the year (day of winter) and cooling demand for another day (day of summer), compared to the day of the year with the most heating or cooling respectively.
- Monthly demand of heating and cooling of all precincts of the building.
Once the calculations of EnergyPlus are complete, Building Services generates the following documents:
- Monthly heating demand of the building and the cells
- Justification of compliance with corresponding thermal code
Demand Response Quick Assessment Tool
The opportunities for demand reduction and cost savings with building demand responsive controls vary tremendously with building type and location. This assessment tool predicts energy and demand savings, economic savings, and thermal comfort impact for various demand responsive strategies. Users enter basic information such as building type, floor area, building envelope, orientation, utility schedule, etc. The assessment tool uses prototypical simulation models to calculate the energy and demand reduction potential under certain demand responsive strategies, such as global temperature reset, chiller cycling, supply air temperature reset, etc. The tool is built on EnergyPlus simulation and includes a separate tool for plotting EnergyPlus results. Users can use the tool to test EnergyPlus models, conduct parametric analysis, or compare multiple EnergyPlus simulation results. For more information contact Peng Xu at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
DesignBuilder (DesignBuilder USA) is a fully featured EnergyPlus user interface suitable for use at any stage of the design process. First released in 2005, DesignBuilder allows a wide range of building types to be simulated using the latest version of EnergyPlus. Advanced design options such as natural ventilation, daylight control, double facades, chilled beams, and heated floors can be assessed for their impact on the building environmental performance, comfort, cost, and daylight availability.
DesignBuilder is widely used in both commercial design and education sectors. Applications include:
- Building design analysis from early architectural stages through to HVAC design
- LEED EA and EQ prerequisite and credit assessment
- BREEAM credit assessment. DesignBuilder complies with the requirements set out in A10 of the BREEAM documentation. It can be used for carbon, comfort and daylighting credits.
- Calculating Commercial Building Tax Deductions under the IRS tax code Section 179D
- Detailed design through CFD with links to load EnergyPlus temperatures and airflow as CFD boundary conditions.
- Assess daylight illuminance effectiveness through Radiance ray tracing simulation.
DesignBuilder also offers a full-featured user interface to EnergyPlus HVAC. Both air and water sides can be treated by placing and connecting components in a graphical environment. The HVAC interface is integrated with the building model and provides access to most HVAC component types. All of the ASHRAE 90.1 baseline system types are included.
BIM models created in Revit, ArchiCAD or Microstation can be loaded into DesignBuilder through a gbXML import process. Revit users can access DesignBuilder while working on their BIM models through a plugin, which allows the model to be checked and analysed without leaving Revit.
Alternatively building models can be assembled quickly and easily within the DesignBuilder modeler by drawing and positioning 3-D blocks. Blocks once drawn can be cut, stretched, merged with other blocks etc then partitioned into zones. Realistic 3-D elements allow correct room areas and volumes to be used in daylighting and CFD simulations and add to realism in rendered views.
EFEN is an energy simulation program designed for analyzing energy impacts and cost effectiveness of fenestration systems in various commercial and high-rise residential buildings. The program incorporates a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) and enables quick and effective parametric analysis of different fenestration systems. EFEN utilizes the EnergyPlus simulation engine to perform building energy consumption analysis. The main feature of the program is that it incorporates several pre-defined default commercial building types with typical construction, interior loads, operating schedules, and HVAC system configurations, such that users can quickly develop an energy models of a building.
The EFEN program has an interface to the WINDOW computer tool to assist in the accurate specification of fenestration systems. Users can simply select from the library of WINDOW products, specify dimensions, shading devices, location within the building and orientation schedule. The inner structure of the program is based on number of predefined EnergyPlus files representing various building types and characteristics, which are accessed by EFEN and utilized to simulate the energy consumption of the building.
Annual energy consumption and cost results are produced by the program and organized in intuitive output tables and graphs enabling users to quickly evaluate comparative results (i.e., parametric runs). EFEN also provides options for customizing report generation. In addition to energy and economic analysis of various fenestration options for non-residential buildings, future version of EFEN program will incorporate module for code compliance and other voluntary criteria, like Energy Star, ASHRAE 90.1, etc. The first version of EFEN was released in November 2007.
Main characteristics of the program
- Simple and intuitive user interface limits the time spent preparing an energy simulation.
- EnergyPlus simulation engine ensures high-level of accuracy and reliability in comparative energy simulation.
- Pre-defined default building types and configurations have already been incorporated using well researched building characteristics.
- Pre-existing database with weather, operating schedules, HVAC system details, and constructions
- Direct link for fenestration input with industry standard WINDOW program.
- Intuitive output tables and graphs so that users can effectively evaluate results.
- Customized versions of program with links to manufacturers' window product database available.
EPlusInterface is an open source initiative to develop a comprehensive interface for EnergyPlus. The code is freely available for anyone to use. The license is GPL. Modules currently under development are listed below; a few are ready to use. For latest downloads and status check the website.
- EPlusTUI: Text based interface tui = text user interface - available now
- EPlusGUI: Graphical interface for Linux, Mac and Windows
- API: A set of well documented API that can be used to develop specialized interfaces
- CAD Interface: Protocol for building 3D models in CAD for EnergyPlus - with conversion routines to generate EnergyPlus files
- Material Library: Develop standard libraries for materials, construction, windows, systems, plants etc.
- Import/Export: Protocol for transferring (import/export) elements between files.
AECOsim Energy Simulator
Bentley Systems released v1.0 of its new building performance simulation product, AECOsim Energy Simulator, in September 2011. Energy Simulator incorporates the EnergyPlus V6.0 simulation engine for building performance calculations, and also includes steady state design methods such as ASHRAE RTS and CIBSE Heat Gain/Heat Loss. Built on top of Bentley's BIM platform, Energy Simulator allows users to work seamlessly between industry CAD, BIM, and AEC applications such as MicroStation, AutoCAD, Revit, and others and supports standard file formats such as gbXML, DXF, DGN, and DWG.
Energy Simulator features comprehensive HVAC systems capabilities — exposing all the inputs for EnergyPlus HVAC components and systems, but also provides more than 17 preconfigured HVAC systems that require few user inputs. The HVAC designer also displays the loops and connections for the systems. Energy Simulator automatically creates the baseline and budget buildings for ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (2004 and 2007) and creates energy performance data for use in AECOsim Compliance Manager for LEED 3.0 documentation.
Check out the EnergySimulator YouTube Channel for video demos of Energy Simulator.
Hevacomp Design Simulation
For more than 28 years Bentley Hevacomp has provided designers, building engineers, and consultants with the tools they need to meet the challenges of creating energy-efficient buildings that are tuned to their environment, perform for their occupants, and provide ROI for their owners.
Bentley Hevacomp offers software for building performance design, simulation, and energy certification based on the EnergyPlus analysis engine. Supporting ISO, IEE, CIBSE, and ASHRAE standards, these industry-leading tools are used around the world to help predict a building's real-world performance as well as quickly analyze design options to see if they pass or fail certification and provide the appropriate documentation, such as those mandated by U.K. Part L, Australia Section J, and the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program.
Bentley Hevacomp is also the leading UK design software â€” used by 70% of the medium to large consulting engineers in the UK, with a user base of 3,000 sites worldwide. Bentley Hevacomp provides a range of building services software, including heating and cooling loads, energy, pipe and duct sizing, lighting and electrical design. Until now, Bentley Hevacomp has produced software based on straightforward steady or quasi-steady state methods; this approach has proved popular with engineers, who appreciate easy-to-use software.
Over the past few years, engineers have been required to carry out more complex analysis, such as overheating frequency, mixed mode ventilation, CFD analysis, etc. To meet this demand, Bentley Hevacomp has developed a Design Simulation package, using EnergyPlus as the calculation engine. An important feature of the design simulation package is that simulation can be carried out using the same project data that was set up using simple load calculations. This enables simulation studies to be carried out without entering additional project data. This is an important feature, to lead engineers easily into simulation
With Bentley Hevacomp software, a building is set up by tracing around the internal perimeter of each room, adjacent surfaces are automatically detected as partitions. Databases of construction elements are used. An extensive roof and floor modeling program is available, which enables simple or complex roofs to be traced from DXF files. Walls and partitions are automatically trimmed vertically to fit the roof, and rooms above and below target rooms are detected. This enables a full 3-D model to be produced for little more effort than a simple 2-D tracing.
Once the building has been set up, building simulation linking to EnergyPlus can be performed to examine room heat losses and gains, summer overheating, peak design months, overheating frequency, and building energy. The package will also produce 3-D external shading graphics and internal solar penetration graphics, showing moving sunshine patches within rooms.
Summer overheating frequency is simulated using CIBSE summer design year data. Weather and hours of overheating can be obtained from cumulative frequency results to check against UK Part L code requirements. Natural infiltration can be examined by defining flow paths and opening windows, this enables complex natural and mixed mode ventilation systems to be examined, including controlled opening of windows.
A large amount of weather data for annual energy simulation is provided; as well as ASHRAE and CIBSE weather data, Hevacomp provides an extensive Meteonorm weather database of over 7000 locations world-wide. A detailed profiling and scheduling module is available so that you can set up any required plant, gains, occupancy and temperature schedules. Typical schedules for a large range of building are provided, compatible with UK Part L requirements.
As well as building simulation, a plant simulation module is available to enable engineers to simply define HVAC systems such as radiators, warm air, constant volume a/c, VAV, fan coils, room a/c units, etc. Central plant items such as boilers, chillers and cooling towers can also be defined. Databases of common plant and equipment are provided. From a brief HVAC set of data, the package will automatically set up all the required HVAC components, water and air networks and central plant. Although simple to set up, complex systems can be defined, which are not limited to Compact HVAC components.
With plant simulation, plant sizing can be carried out, using summer and winter design days, plant and equipment sizing schedules are produced. Annual energy consumption can be computed, together with fuel cost and CO2 consumption.
Hevacomp has an alliance with CHAM (UK) so that results from Design Simulation can automatically be used to carry out CFD analysis, enabling room air movement and temperature studies to be carried out. Hevacomp provides an extensive object library so that you can place items such as furniture and people in rooms to see the effect on air movement.
More information on Bentley Hevacomp's Design Simulation is available from www.hevacomp.com.
MC4 Suite uses an AutoCAD platform offering complete compatibility with .dwg file formats. Import pre-existing architectural plans for a quick start. Graphical interface with EnergyPlus, hydronic and thermal system sizing, plumbing design, layout, snow and ice melting system design, radiant heating and cooling systems, heat loss — cooling loads (based on ASHRAE standards), hydraulic calculation for fire protection systems (based on NFPA standards, and 3-D mechanical room design. Solar BIM, solar water heating system design. Commercial or residential. New or retrofit construction. Produces complete calculation reports on all systems, system simulation and bill of materials. Pre- stocked, customizable library of components included. Can be used for project design of the following systems: fire sprinkler, duct, pipe, boiler room, solar water heating, radiant heat and cooling, energy analysis, and mechanical room design.
SMART ENERGY, developed by the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), helps heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers calculate building loads. This program replaces ISHRAE’s Hourly Load Calculation Program (HLCP).
Based on EnergyPlus, this web-based energy analysis and thermal load simulation program delivers secure, on demand access to graphical reports that help with decision making. Results include design day loads, 288-hour yearly outputs, and 8760-hour hourly outputs though a simplified graphical interface. You can also access weather and design data for most cities of the world.
SMART ENERGY enables users to directly import 2-D CAD drawings, PDFs, or JPEG images of building floor plans. Users can also create their own drawings via an innovative Flash software matrix based interface. Default values for building construction types, activities, schedules, and HVAC and lighting loads help users perform faster simulations with minimal learning curves.
- 100% web based
- User-friendly interface
- Tools to facilitate entering zones
- Weather data
- Predefined inputs
- Graphical reports
- Supports a variety of HVAC systems.