Building Energy Software Tools
Formerly hosted by US Dept. of Energy    

OpenStudio

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OpenStudio is an open-source SDK (software development kit) for building energy simulation. OpenStudio greatly reduces the cost of developing end-use applications and services that exploit energy simulation by providing a large library of common helper functions for creating, querying, and transforming energy models, running simulations, and working with results. OpenStudio updates are released quarterly—the most recent version update, 1.9.0, was released 9/30/2015.

A significant—and thus far unique—feature of OpenStudio is that its API (application programming interface) is accessible via a variety of scripting languages including Ruby and Python and OpenStudio itself can execute scripts written in these languages. The scripting facility allows OpenStudio to be customized and extended in a flexible way. The most common use of scripting is to automate energy conservation measures that can be applied to existing models, and as a result scripts are commonly referred to as "measures". However, scripts/measures can be—and are being—used to do a variety of things. OpenStudio measures—as well as static simulation content like HVAC component descriptions, construction descriptions, weather files, standard schedules, etc.—are stored in the open, dynamic BCL (Building Component Library) database (http://bcl.nrel.gov/). The BCL allows measures and content to be vetted by and shared with a group or with the larger community.

OpenStudio also includes a suite of graphical applications that demonstrate the power of the SDK. These include a plug-in for Trimble SketchUp for creating 3D geometry; a companion graphical application for creating other aspects of an energy model such as constructions, schedules, and HVAC systems; and a parametric analysis tool for applying measures to models. The OpenStudio SDK is also available as an AMI (Amazon Machine Image) which allows users to run large simulation studies on Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) service. Simulation studies are specified using an easy-to-use Excel interface and extensively use the concept of measures.

Originally developed for EnergyPlus, OpenStudio now also supports the energy simulation engine ESP-r, CEN/ISO 13790 annual and hourly energy calculations, the lighting engine Radiance, the airflow engine CONTAM, and the code compliance engine CBECC-Com.

Learn more at http://openstudio.net.

What is OpenStudio

Expertise Required: 

As with all energy simulation programs, building physics and or a mechanical engineering background is helpful.

Audience: 

Mechanical, architectural, and energy engineers; energy-efficiency program administrators; energy-efficiency policy analysts; researchers; students and educators; software application developers.

Strengths: 

From a technical standpoint, OpenStudio has several main strengths:

  • It is structured as a non-graphical software development kit (SDK) and a separate graphical application that access the SDK via an application programming interface (API). The SDK can be reused by other graphical applications, with the OpenStudio graphical application serving as a template for doing so.
  • The OpenStudio API can be scripted using languages like Ruby, Python, C#, and JavaScript and OpenStudio can interpret these scripts at runtime. The result is a dynamic extension, customization, and automation facility similar to Microsoft Excel's Visual Basic macros. A large library of OpenStudio scripts—commonly called OpenStudio measures—has been developed. Many of these apply model transformations in ways that correspond to energy conservation measures—hence the name measures—but others do custom reporting or visualization or import from and export to other analysis tools.
  • OpenStudio measures as well as all OpenStudio component content (e.g., construction assembly specifications, equipment specifications, weather files, standard schedule specifications, etc.) exists outside of OpenStudio in the public Building Component Library (BCL) database. This content is crowd-sourced and vetted and the most recent versions are always available to OpenStudio or any client application. The content is also available to other applications.

Other strengths of the platform include an open-source license and committed support from DOE, utilities, and other organizations.

Country: 
United States
Major Capabilities: 
Whole-building Energy Simulation
Energy Conservation Measures
Lighting Simulation
Building Type: 
Commercial
Residential
Keywords: 
EnergyPlus
Radiance
GLHEPro
Language: 
English
Platform: 
Linux
Windows
Mac OS X
Web/Saas
Pricing: 
Free
Open Source
Help and Support: 
Free Email Support
Peer Support Forum
Last Software Update: 
30 September 2015
Last Entry Update: 
18 July 2018
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