ThermalOpt and the Development of Parametric Daylight Modeler

Category: Research
Year: 2010
Status: archive Building Type: NA
Location: ,

This research project was in support of the initial phase of Ben Welle's PhD thesis at Stanford University.  The project involved building a whole building daylighting analysis software (PIDO2Rad) that reads in information from a standard IFC file for both EnergyPlush and Radiance simuations.  The software is setup for parametric analysis, allowing for numerous parallel simulations to be performed on available simulation cores.  A number of algorithms were developed and implemented to automate and improve the efficiency of the daylight simulation.  The published article is available here.


This paper describes ThermalOpt - a methodology for automated BIM-based multidisciplinary thermal simulation intended for use in multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) environments. ThermalOpt mitigates several technical barriers to BIM-based multidisciplinary thermal simulation found in practice today while integrating and automating commercially available technologies into a workflow from a parametric BIM model (Digital Project) to an energy simulation engine (EnergyPlus) and a daylighting simulation engine (Radiance) using a middleware based on the open data model Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). Details are discussed including methods for: automatically converting architectural models into multiple consistent thermal analytical models; integration/coordination of analysis inputs and outputs between multiple thermal analyses; reducing simulation times; and generating consistent annual metrics for energy and daylighting performance. We explain how ThermalOpt can improve design process speed, accuracy, and consistency, and can enable designers to explore orders of magnitude larger design spaces using MDO environments to better understand the complex tradeoffs required to achieve zero energy buildings.