Building Simulations reproduce physical phenomena by utilizing various algorithms to solve for a balance of unknowns based on known boundary conditions, which are provided as input variables. They often include mathematical analysis methods, such as those built on the Finite Difference Method, Finite Element Analysis, or Boundary Element Analysis applications.
We provide a variety of building simulation services for decision-making between different design or retrofit scenarios.
Building performance simulation itself is a field within the wider realm of scientific computing. Wikipedia describes the field of building performance simulation as “the replication of aspects of building performance using a computer-based, mathematical model created on the basis of fundamental physical principles and sound engineering practice.”
Building Simulations support the assessment, diagnosis, and identification of cause and effects of environmental loads on the performance of building systems, which include a building’s enclosure as a subsystem.
The term Performance has a different meaning in the various engineering fields. In the civil engineering domain performance is often connected to structural response characteristics under seismic or other high-load events. In the architectural engineering domain, performance can represent the properties of heat (thermal modeling), moisture (hygro-thermal modeling), light (lighting and day-lighting modeling), or energy (energy assessment modeling).
Thermal bridges in building enclosure systems are highly conductive building components that allow for a significant amount of heat flux between two connected environments of different temperature levels, such as those present between the different exterior and interior boundary conditions.
Thermal bridges are bypassing insulation materials and can occur along linear edges and interfaces, which calls for a 2-D analysis of the thermal performance, or around a singular area of interference (e.g. through metal anchors or other structural elements such columns and beams), which require a 3-D analysis.
A hygrothermal analysis examines the integrated movement of heat and moisture flow through building enclosure assemblies (such as walls, roofs, and below-grade components). The underlying hygrothermal model solves for the physical properties of temperature, and humidity in form of moisture content, and can present results of the same across the involved materials in assemblies and their adjacent interfaces with other assemblies.
A hygrothermal analysis can provide insight into the performance of wall and floor assemblies and allow designers, contractors, and owners to act on any potential problems before they become an issue for the durability and health of a building.
(Day-)Lighting simulations can be conducted for a variety of studies at different times in a building’s design phase. For example, to avoid glare and extensive solar heat gains, a design team may want to avoid the penetration of direct sunlight into the interior spaces.
Other daylight simulations allow for calculating daylighting quantities and quality within spaces of the building that have access to the exterior through windows. Such an analysis calculates the so called Daylight Factor – i.e. the ratio between the interior and exterior illuminance levels of natural lighting. This factor is typically calculated for a overcast sky model and thus represents the worst case scenario. Since this model does not take into account any direct sun light, the orientation of the building does not impact the results of the calculations. Such lighting simulations can provide a preliminary evaluation to support early design decisions.
Building Energy Modeling (BEM) can be used in new building and retrofit design, to demonstrate code compliance, provide performance metrics for different certifications, or possible qualification for tax credits and utility incentives. As such, BEM not only serves the design community but can also inform the decision-making process for owners and developers.
BEM software is based on physics-based simulation algorithms of building energy use, where the description of a buildings geometry, materials, and the various building systems configurations and control strategies serve as inputs.
Operational schedules for occupancy, lighting, electric loads, and control strategies can be explored for a specific location to calculate a resulting annual energy use, along with related metrics like occupant comfort and energy costs.