CBS Newsletter
Winter 1996
pg. 4

PowerDOE: A Visual Energy Analysis Tool

Figure 1: Building zone loads screen with exterior windows screen.

PowerDOE is a new PC-based tool for simulating building energy performance. To be released in April 1996, it combines the full capabilities of the DOE-2.1E building simulation program with an easy-to-use, flexible Windows graphical user interface. PowerDOE's development began in 1992 as a collaborative effort of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute.1 The project's objective is to create a state-of-the-art program that will become a widely used and accepted tool for building simulation, energy analysis and design. PowerDOE is designed to serve a wide range of users, including building performance analysts, HVAC designers, architects, and electric and gas utility personnel and contractors.

PowerDOE Structure

PowerDOE has a modular structure that allows sections of the program to be accessed externally or connected with other analysis tools. For example, its Review Results module can be used as a stand-alone application for post-processing DOE-2 results. The PowerDOE structure allows third party developers to use these modules-including Describe Building, Floor Plan, Zone Loads, Building Equipment, HVAC, and Central Plant-and the PowerDOE simulation engine in their applications. PowerDOE will also be linked to the Building Design Advisor, a multimedia-based, integrated building design support tool being developed separately at LBNL.

Unlike DOE-2's batch-mode operation, PowerDOE provides an interactive connection between the data input phase and the simulation, allowing the user to perform certain calculations prior to running the entire simulation.

For example, the user interface calls the simulation engine to perform the zone-by-zone peak-load calculations necessary for default HVAC equipment sizing. In this way, as the user passes from the architectural input phase to the HVAC description phase, all loads and the resulting default equipment sizing are visible and all are changeable prior to the energy use analysis.

The program requires a 386- or 486-based PC with a math coprocessor, VGA graphics card, color VGA monitor and 12 megabytes of memory. A SuperVGA (800x600) or a VGA (with 256 or more colors) video card and monitor are suggested for optimal display of the application's graphics. Windows version 3.1 or higher is required.

Figure 2: HVAC system screen.

User Interface

The PowerDOE user interface takes a number of unique approaches to describe buildings accurately. PowerDOE organizes architectural and HVAC elements in a hierarchy that is intuitive and familiar to designers and analysts. Building areas are grouped into floor plans, with each floor composed of conditioned and unconditioned zones plus any plenums. HVAC equipment is grouped by air- and water-flow paths that supply the heating, cooling, and ventilation requirements of the building areas. Electricity and fuel supply are grouped into hypothetical meters that both reflect the actual building circuits and submetering, and provide end-use consumption and demand estimates.

PowerDOE Library

PowerDOE includes a library of generic, parameterized prototype buildings and building components that can be altered to create new libraries. The user can select a prototype by building type (e.g., office, residence, hospital), size (large medium, small), vintage (pre 1970s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s), and location. The prototype can then be altered globally to conform to the desired design. Global parameters include building size, area, number of floors, shape, usage breakdown by area percent (entry, office, kitchen), and HVAC configuration.

The initial release of PowerDOE will be available in April 1996. Subsequent releases will include more new features and improvements. Contact the Simulation Research Group for more information on PowerDOE's features and information on obtaining the software.

Info icon

Fred Winkelmann
Kathleen Ellington
Simulation Research Group
Building Technologies Program
(510) 486-5711; (510) 486-4089 fax

1Participants include: J.J. Hirsch (Hirsch & Associates); F.C. Winkelmann, W.F. Buhl, K.L. Ellington (LBNL); J.S. McMenamin, I. Rohmund, S.A. Criswell (Regional Economic Research, Inc.); A. Bhimani, B. Spurlock (Southern Company Services); D.J. Bornstein (D.J. Bornstein & Associates); K.F. Johnson (Electric Power Research Institute).

This work is funded by DOE's Office of Building Technologies, Electric Power Research Institute, Bonneville Power Administration, Duke Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and Southern Company Services.


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