Energy Simulation for Design

The best intent does not always lead to the best performing design, as intuition and rules of thumb sometimes fail to adequately inform decision making. Therefore, designers of high-performance architecture increasingly turn to analytical tools to eliminate some of the guesswork. This course explores the use of computerized energy simulation in pursuit of high-performance design.

The American Institute of Architects encourages designers to embrace energy simulation starting early in the project. In this course, students will learn to meet that challenge and strive beyond the \”pretty graph\” phase in a path towards producing meaningful and timely results that add value to the early-design process. Both studio-based and research-based students are encouraged to participate.

Learning Objectives
Students acquire skills in energy simulation and, using these skills, explore fundamental design issues such as building massing, natural ventilation, envelope construction, and daylighting. The course presents the benefits as well as the limitations of energy simulation. Topics include fundamentals such as modeling strategies, underlying physical principles, understanding simulation assumptions, and interpreting results with an emphasis on developing the ability to translate the analysis into design decisions. Through practice with the software tools, students develop a better understanding of physics in architecture and hone their own design intuition.

At the end of the course students will…
– be able to perform whole-building energy simulation to support the schematic architectural design process
– understand how to interpret simulation results and be able to engage more effectively with energy consultants
– have increased their understanding of high-performance design strategies

Class Format
The class format consists of lectures, in-class exercises, group discussions, and student presentations. Students learn simulation tools through a series of short tutorials and assignments. They ultimately apply the knowledge in small-group design projects.

Students will learn to use the DesignBuilder interface for the EnergyPlus energy modeling engine. However, students will find the concepts learned applicable to energy simulation in general.