ZEBO is a decision support tool for the study and design of net zero energy buildings (NZEBs) in hot climates during early design phases. The aim of this tool is to facilitate and integrate the use of energy building performance simulation for architects. The tool embraces a graphical user interface for EnergyPlus. It allows for sensitivity analysis of possible variations of NZEB design parameters and elements during the early design phases in hot climates. Its added values reside in its ability to inform the decision before decisions are made about NZEB design. The tool is contextual and is based on an embedded benchmark model and database for Egyptian residential buildings, which includes local materials and construction and allows the generation of code-compliant design alternatives. Screen Shots
design decision support; zero energy building; sensitivity analysis; energy simulation; thermal comfort; hot climate
The tool calls the EnergyPlus simulation engine. Its usability has been tested with a wider user group. Attia, S.; De Herde, A. (2011). “Design Decision Tool for Zero Energy Buildings.” Passive and Low Energy Architecture, July, Louvain La Neuve, Belgium.
Novice users. ZEBO is good at teaching the novice environmental designer many important concepts necessary for efficient building design. Extensive help file and tutorials are provided. A video tutorial is also provided: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJLYzuL7yjg
More than 20 individual users, mainly in Egypt.
The initial target audience of ZEBO is architects and architectural students with little experience in building energy efficiency.
Input categories are divided into eight groups: Weather File, Orientation, Zone Dimensions, North and South Window Width and Type, Shading Devices and Dimensions, Wall Type, Wall Insulation Type and Thickness, and Roof Insulation Type and Thickness. The weather file is selected via a pull-down menu.
ZEBO output screen displays the results in three graphs: the outdoor temperatures graph located in the upper right corner of the screen, the monthly end use graph on the bottom right, and the energy consumption breakdown graph on the bottom left side of the screen.
Visual Basic 2008
The tool allows for sensitivity analysis of possible variations of NZEB design parameters and elements during the early design phases in hot climates. Its added values reside in its ability to inform the decision before decisions are made about NZEB design.
The decision-making support of current prototype can handle energy issues only. Many users expect other environmental and economical indices. One of the main limitations identified during the workshops was the geometry and nongeometric input.