Shoeboxer: Urban Scale Operational Energy Simulations

The operational energy model simulation uses your umi buildings and building template settings as well as the shading geometry on the umi shading layers. A small input geometry example is shown in Figure 1.

First your building envelope is subdivided into floor volumes according to your floor to floor height settings in the building template. Along the facades of each floor volume a solar insolation analysis is performed using Radiance / GenCumulativeSky. Internally your geometry is meshed and then handed over to radiance. Figure 2 shows a typical result of this insolation simulation.

This radiation data as well as the basic facade surface orientation are then used to cluster facade regions of each building by solar micro climate similarity - see Figure 3 for an example. Each color represents a cluster.

The number of clusters is a user setting and can be specified for each orientation (a typical cluster count per facade is two)

The Shoeboxer then assigns an area weight to each cluster centroid. This centroid is then also the location for a shoebox model that then represent the cluster. See Figure 4.

Each Shoebox or Cluster is written out as IDF file and is simulated with EnergyPlus.

The final simulation step is to gather all shoebox data and aggregate the building result.

For further details regarding the method please refer to the BS2014 paper online

The method is still under active development and a validation study is on the way.

In Short

Umi is a Rhino-based design environment for architects and urban planners interested in modeling the environmental performance of neighborhoods and cities with respect to operational and embodied energy use, walkability and daylighting potential. Since 2012, Umi has been  developed by the Sustainable Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with support from a National Science Foundation EFRI_SEED project, the MIT Energy Initiative, the Kuwait-MIT Center, the Center for Complex Engineering Systems (CCES) at KACST and MIT, Transsolar Climate Engineering and United Technologies Corporation. Further tool developed is now also being conducted at the Environmental Systems Lab at Cornell University.

A first public version of Umi was released during a public symposium on Sustainable Urban Design on May 6th 2013 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Version 2.0, which also includes an embodied energy module, was released on November 7th 2014.

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