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DesignBuilder is built around the EnergyPlus data requirements

EnergyPlus is the U.S. DOE building energy simulation program for modelling building heating, cooling, lighting, ventilating, and other energy flows.

It builds on the most popular features and capabilities of BLAST and DOE-2 but also includes many innovative simulation capabilities such as time steps of less than an hour, modular systems and plant integrated with heat balance-based zone simulation, multizone air flow, thermal comfort, and photovoltaic systems.

EnergyPlus is a stand-alone simulation program without a 'user friendly' graphical interface – which is where DesignBuilder comes in. We have integrated EnergyPlus tightly within the DesignBuilder environment to allow you to carry out simulations without any fuss – just define your building model, request data and let the EnergyPlus simulation engine take care of the details.

DesignBuilder has been specifically developed around EnergyPlus allowing most of the EnergyPlus fabric and glazing data to be input. Databases of building materials, constructions, window panes, window gas, glazing units and blinds are provided.

HVAC is modelled using either the "ideal loads" option or the Compact HVAC (now called "HVAC Template") descriptions provided by EnergyPlus.  These allow a number of predefined HVAC system types to be defined parametrically without the need for complex system layouts.  These compact descriptions are automatically expanded behind-the-scenes into full HVAC simulation data sets prior to simulation.

No experience with EnergyPlus is necessary, but more advanced users have the flexibility to export IDF input files and edit these to model a very wide range of HVAC system types.

There is a range of EnergyPlus simulation engines to choose from including the current DOE executable release, the current DLL release and any interim releases made available by DOE. If you have built your own version of EnergyPlus you can even run this from within DesignBuilder. You can also carry out DesignBuilder simulations via EP-Launch.

DOE EnergyPlus website