FSEC Receives Contract to Expand Building Energy Simulation Program

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has received a $252,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory to expand the modeling capabilities of DOEs EnergyPlusTM building energy simulation program.

The program is being developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a number of other contributors, including FSEC. It lets architects, engineers, building owners and managers assess the impacts of their design choices and operating practices on energy use and operating costs.

EnergyPlus is a building performance simulation program that has innovative simulation capabilities, including simulation time steps of less than one hour, modular systems simulation models that are integrated with the zone heat balance simulation, and input and output structures tailored to facilitate third-party user interface development. The integration of the systems and zone heat balance solution technique allows for evaluation of interactions between various building components and systems, a key deficiency in the earlier programs, but absolutely necessary to enable whole-building evaluation and optimization.

Don Shirey, a Principal Research Engineer at FSEC, explained that the unique capabilities of EnergyPlus have grown significantly over time, but FSEC will now develop additional key features and upgrades that are needed to support research, design and analysis of high-performance and zero-energy buildings. The following new features and enhancements will be implemented, tested and documented by FSEC during this project:

  • A model for packaged terminal heat pumps
  • A model for gas engine-driven air-to-air heat pump waste heat recovery
  • Proper modeling of window screens
  • Modeling energy losses related to commercial building air distribution
  • systems
  • Comfort-based controls for forced-air cooling and heating systems
  • An improved model for microturbine power generation with heat recovery.

For more information on this project, contact Shirey at 321-638-1451.

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, and other energy areas. For more information, call the FSEC Public Information Office at (321) 638-1015 or go to http://www.fsec.ucf.edu.