New Knowledge Transfer Partnership aims to correct Building Energy Simulation Systems

New Knowledge Transfer Partnership aims to correct Building Energy Simulation Systems

A new partnership between the ESRU (Energy Systems Research Unit) at the University of Strathclyde and software provider Arbnco has been launched to calculate and investigate why the energy performance of buildings so often falls below design and intended expectations.

Research undertaken by Arbnco has shown that many initiatives investigating gaps in energy performance are now making use of simulation tools to analyse and estimate shortfalls or overshoots, but these are often not as accurate as they could be; and frequently buildings still don’t match up to expectations set during the design and construction processes. This is all too common a problem, and for developers and property owners leads to higher costs, higher energy consumption, unhappy clients and tenants and distrust in sustainability and energy efficiency systems and products.

Such building simulation systems differ from traditional compliance type models and are not the norm currently in estate management. This crown is currently held by SBEM (the Simplified Building Energy Model). However, the increased usage of simulation systems is likely only to growing and so needs to be investigated. It is this, amongst other efficiency methods, that the new knowledge transfer partnership will be looking into.

The current issue with building simulation tools is often the lack of prior calibration to match the tools’ predictions against current performance. To address this, the new partnership will develop a new software tool that will carry out calibrations to better match estimated and actual performance better automatically, without any manual human input. The aim of this software is to promote high-quality and more meticulous building simulation models. The use of these will be posterior, and should in turn result in more accurate energy analysis and easier decision-making for those who need to call the shots in the operation, maintenance and retrofitting of estates.

This software will work differently to existing simulation tools in that it will employ actual performance data from both the energy and indoor environments to routinely calibrate and re-calibrate models before energy analysis is completed. Alongside this, the program will include an element of ‘wellness’, with both the University’s ESRU and Arbnco studying more into the potential uses of such models to evaluate the synergies between thermal comfort, indoor air quality and energy usage.
Long term, Arbnco intends to integrate the new simulation software created into its product suite.

The director of the University’s ESRU, Professor Joe Clarke spoke of his excitement of the new knowledge transfer partnership, saying: “This KTP will contribute towards closing the energy gap and understanding its causes. KTPs are an exceptional knowledge transfer mechanism, allowing academics to convey research outcomes to a business via a recent graduate. In this way the business can accelerate the transformation of research to new commercial products and solutions.”

Similarly, Maureen Eisbrenner, co-founder of Arbnco, explained:

“People’s health and wellbeing should be at the core of everything we do and we need to ensure buildings are not only energy efficient but a positive environment to work in. The KTP aims to highlight poor performing buildings and, more importantly, the reason behind poor performance. With the project now underway, the software will start being developed shortly. Watch this space for more information”

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