Building Energy Modeling (BEM) Software Comparison
Demystifying Building Energy Modeling Software: A Comprehensive Comparison
Building energy modeling (BEM) software provides an invaluable tool for architects, engineers, and building owners, aiming to minimize energy use, reduce carbon footprints, and enhance indoor environmental quality. BEM software ranges from basic tools for preliminary assessments to advanced solutions for detailed design and operational optimization.
- Several popular BEM software:
EnergyPlus, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is a robust and detailed simulation engine known for its accuracy and flexibility. It is best suited for detailed design and simulation.
Developed by DOE, OpenStudio adds a user-friendly graphical interface via a SketchUp plugin. It’s open-source, and its capabilities can be extended through Ruby scripting. It offers a solid choice for detailed design, simulation, and parametric analysis.
eQuest is an easy-to-use tool that offers both detailed and simplified modes, making it ideal for users at different stages of the design process.
DesignBuilder is a commercial tool that provides a user-friendly graphical interface and uses the EnergyPlus simulation engine. It offers detailed outputs and is well-suited for LEED and BREEAM modeling
- IES VE
The IES Virtual Environment (VE) is a comprehensive suite of tools that allows for the whole building design, including architectural design, energy modeling, and daylighting analysis. It provides highly detailed outputs and is well-suited for LEED and BREEAM modeling.
Revit, part of the Autodesk suite, is primarily a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. Its strength lies in its powerful BIM capabilities
- Comparison of several popular BEM software:
|EnergyPlus||Highly accurate, detailed outputs, extensive weather data, freely available||Steep learning curve, requires separate graphical interface||Detailed design and simulation|
|OpenStudio||Free, integrates with EnergyPlus, SketchUp plugin, extensible via Ruby scripts||Slightly complex, not as visually appealing as some commercial tools||Detailed design and simulation, Parametric analysis|
|eQuest||User-friendly, detailed, and simplified modes, free, good for LEED compliance modeling||Less detailed results compared to EnergyPlus||Preliminary and detailed design|
|DesignBuilder||Easy-to-use graphical interface, detailed outputs, EnergyPlus engine, good for LEED and BREEAM modeling||Commercial software, hence comes at a cost||Detailed design, LEED and BREEAM analysis|
|IES VE||Integrated suite for whole building design, detailed outputs, daylighting analysis, good for LEED and BREEAM modeling||Commercial software, more expensive||Whole building design, Daylighting, Detailed design|
|Revit||Powerful BIM capabilities, integration with BEM via plugins, Autodesk ecosystem||Commercial software, BEM capabilities not as extensive as dedicated tools||Architectural design, preliminary energy modeling|
The Quest for the Best Building Energy Modeling Software: An In-Depth Examination
Including criteria ASHRAE Std 140 approval, power, flexibility, feature richness, learning curve, existing user base, reports, customization, and cost-effectiveness.
- Given these parameters, comparison is narrowed down to the following software packages:
- EnergyPlus+OpenStudio+Trimble Sketchup
- TRACE 700
- Carrier HAP
- IES VE
- And some wildcards to consider:
- IDA ICE