Energy Simulation

The best intent does not always lead to the best performing design, as intuition and rules of thumb often 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 energy simulation in pursuit of high-performance architectural 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, 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
In this course, students will acquire skills in energy simulation while simultaneously using these skills to explore fundamental design issues such as building massing, daylighting, and envelope design. The course includes a review of energy flows in buildings and 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
– have gained skills applicable to MArch/MDes theses as well as today's design and consulting practices
– understand how to interpret simulation results and be able to engage more effectively with energy consultants
– have increased their understanding of high-performance environmental design strategies in architecture

At a minimum, students will learn to use the DesignBuilder interface for the EnergyPlus energy modeling engine. Students will also have the opportunity to explore Grasshopper-based tools, such as Ladybug/Honeybee and/or ArchSim. Regardless of the software used, students will find the concepts learned applicable to energy simulation (and low-energy design) in general.

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, assignments, and games. They ultimately apply the knowledge in small-group (or individual) design projects.