BERKELEY, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) EnergyPlus building energy simulation software has helped in designing more efficient buildings for more than a decade. However, because it could take a great deal of effort to input information and analyze the output, DOE said that many avoided using the program. Now, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has announced the development of a graphical user interface (GUI) for EnergyPlus to make the program much easier to use.

To address the need for a more usable interface, the Simulation Research Group at LBNL worked with a public/private team to develop Simergy — a free GUI for EnergyPlus. The beta version has been released and is currently undergoing testing.

“The focus was on the end-user from the start of the project,” said Philip Haves of LBNL’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. “Berkeley Lab initiated and participated in a series of workshops where practitioners helped to define features that would enable them to use EnergyPlus effectively. We used their recommendations to develop a product that would meet their specific needs.”

Version 1 of Simergy will address design for new construction and is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2013. Some key features include:

• A drag-and-drop component-level schematic editor for HVAC systems.

• Ability to import building envelope geometry from computer aided design (CAD)/building information modeling (BIM) tools using the industry standard protocols IFC and gbXML, or they can be generated by Simergy.

• Extensive sets of libraries and templates for materials and equipment.

• Summary reports that can be customized to the user’s desired level of detail.

• Interactive detailed results visualization.

Future developments are planned to include:

• Support for early-stage integrated design.

• Automated code compliance.

• For existing buildings, an integrated approach to semi-automated retro-commissioning, retrofit analysis, retrofit commissioning, and performance tracking for fault detection.

For more information and to download the beta version, go to

Publication date: 3/4/2013