ATLANTA - Helping ensure that a common language of “energy efficiency” is spoken by both building information modeling (BIM) software used by architects and energy analysis and simulation software used by engineers is the goal of new research funded by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

The project will develop open-source reference models by which developers may test their solutions to interoperability between BIM and energy simulation software. The project will focus on the most common thermal features in buildings assumed to have the greatest impact on energy use, and provide guidelines for describing thermal models extracted from BIM and the rules for extracting those models used in whole building energy analysis applications.

“This research will promote the inclusion of energy efficiency measures in the early design of building model development,” said Mark Clayton, Ph.D., principal investigator for the project. “It is expected to greatly increase the efficiency and accuracy of energy analysis and allow building designs to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency.”

The project is one of 13 approved for funding by ASHRAE at its 2009 Annual Conference, totaling some $1.6 million.

ASHRAE Research Project 1468, Development of a Reference Building Information Model (BIM) for Thermal Model Compliance Testing, was awarded to Texas A&M University. The $175,311 project is expected to take 15 months to complete. It is sponsored by ASHRAE’s technical committee (TC) 1.5, Computer Applications.

ASHRAE said studies have shown that problems related to exchanging information among various building design software systems causes more than $16 billion per year of unnecessary expense. Given that new computer technologies for representing buildings are expected to transform the processes for architectural engineering design services, it is imperative that standards for data exchange among disparate software systems be established, according to Clayton, the associate director of the Center for Housing and Urban Development at Texas A&M.

“Consequently, the research will enable ASHRAE to foster standards for interoperability between various BIM software systems and energy simulation systems and address some of the costs attributable to poor interoperability,” said Clayton. “More significantly, improved interoperability is expected to improve the quality of design and the energy efficiency of buildings.”

Other projects approved for funding are:

• Development of Design Tools for Surface Water Heat Pump Systems, RP-1385, Oklahoma State University, two years, $193,132, sponsored by TC 6.8, Geothermal Energy Utilization

• Measuring, Modeling, Analysis and Reporting Protocols for Short-Term M&V of Whole Building Energy Performance, RP-1404, Milwaukee School of Engineering, two years, $199,512, sponsored by TC 4.7, Energy Calculations

• Stability of Candidate Lubricants for CO2 Refrigeration, RP-1409, Spauschus Associates, one year, $46,200, sponsored by TC 3.2, Refrigerant System Chemistry

• Ventilation Requirements for Refrigerating Machinery Rooms, RP-1448, CPP Inc., 18 months, $93,368, sponsored by TC 4.3, Ventilation Requirements and Infiltration

• Balancing Latent Heat Load Between Display Cases and Store Comfort Cooling, RP-1467, University of Colorado-Boulder, two years, $167,425, sponsored by TC 10.7, Commercial Food and Beverage Cooling Display and Storage. The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is contributing $100,000 toward the project.

• Thermal Comfort in Commercial Kitchens, RP-1469, KEMA Inc., two years, $350,000, sponsored by TC 5.10, Kitchen Ventilation

• Measuring Air-Tightness of Mid- and High-Rise Non-Residential Buildings, RP-1478, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., two years, $150,000, sponsored by TC 4.3, Ventilation Requirements and Infiltration

• Binary Refrigerant Flame Boundary Concentrations, RP-1507, Safety Consulting Engineers Inc., one year, $87,500, sponsored by TC 3.1, Refrigerants and Secondary Coolants

• Establishment of Design Procedures to Predict Room Airflow Requirements in Partially Mixed Room Air Distribution Systems, RP-1522, Building Energy and Environmental Engineering, two years, $104,500, sponsored by TC 5.3, Room Air Distribution

• Establishing Benchmark Levels and Patterns of Commercial Building Hot Water Use, RP-1544, Research Quality and Design Engineering, 18 months, $190,000, sponsored by TC 6.6, Service Water Heating

• Effects of Fin Design on Frost and Defrost Thermal Performance of Micro-Channel Heat Exchangers, RP-1589, Oklahoma State University, 18 months, $137,065, sponsored by TC 8.4, Air-to-Refrigerant Heat Transfer Equipment

• Implementation of Total Cost of Ownership Principles into Higher Education as an Integrated Decision Making Tool, RP-1590, APPA (Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges), one year, $125,000, sponsored b TC 7.8, Owning and Operating Costs

Publication date:08/17/2009