ATLANTA – Ensuring 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.

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 standard 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.

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Publication date:10/12/2009