Architects Friendly: A Comparison of Ten Different Building Energy Simulation Programs
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A wide range of scientifically validated Building Performance Simulation tools BPS is available internationally. The users of those tools are mainly researchers, physicists and experts who value empirical validation, analytical verification and calibration of uncertainty as defined by e.g. BESTEST. However, literature and comparative surveys indicate that most architects who use BPS tools in design practice are much more concerned with the (1) Usability and Information Management (UIM) of interface and (2) the Integration of Intelligent design Knowledge-Base (IIKB). Those two issues are the main factors for identifying a building simulation program as “Architect Friendly”. Now, with the advancement of BPS tools and the recent announcements of direct links between BIM or non-BIM modeling tools and BPS tools it is important to compare the existing programs. Based on an online survey, this paper presents the results of comparing ten major BPS tools. The following programs are compared: ECOTECT, HEED, Energy 10, Design Builder, eQUEST, DOE-2, Green Building Studio, IES VE, Energy Plus and Energy Plus-SketchUp Plugin (OpenStudio). With 249 valid responses, the survey ranked the tools in three classes and revealed that architects seek the IIKB above the UIM of the interface. Finally, the paper summarizes the key findings and underlines the major requirements for future improvement and development of BPS tools, mainly from an architectural perspective.