DesignBuilder v7 is Released

We are delighted to announce that DesignBuilder v7 is now released! The new version comes with a range of powerful new features that extend DesignBuilder’s capabilities and improve modelling workflow and productivity. Features highlights include:

  • Accurate 3D ground modelling using Kiva
  • Import EnergyPlus IDF files.
  • Links to MagiCAD.
  • Major Daylighting tool upgrade.
  • Model data grid tool supports Detailed HVAC data and component blocks.
  • Create custom reports, design variables and KPIs using Python or C# scripting languages.
  • ASHRAE 90.1 App G 2013 and 2016 PRM modelling is supported.
  • LEED V4 MEPC reports can be directly generated by DesignBuilder.
  • As well as improvements to the software, v7 also brings some changes to licencing. More information on these topics can be found below.

DesignBuilder v7 New Features Webinar on 20 May

You can learn more about DesignBuilder v7 in this free webinar to be held on 20 May. The webinar will cover the main software improvements listed above. Register now to attend live, or to access the recording.

EnergyPlus v9.4

DesignBuilder is the most mature and capable user interface to EnergyPlus, our industry's gold-standard Building Energy Simulation engine. DesignBuilder v7 includes the latest EnergyPlus v9.4 engine with various performance and feature enhancements. These include a new pixel counting shading method for faster simulations of large models on machines with dedicated graphics cards.

Extended Interoperability

DesignBuilder provides multiple import and export options in a variety of formats to maximise interoperability with other tools. In additional to the existing gbXML, DXF and spreadsheet import/export capabilities, two new interoperability options have been added in v7:

  • You can now Import EnergyPlus IDF files created in 3rd party tools such as OpenStudio into DesignBuilder. The new IDF Import tool allows the building geometry, construction, glazing, materials and shading data in EnergyPlus IDF model files to be imported into a DesignBuilder model. Zones on the same storey are grouped into a block which makes re-partitioning and data organisation easier. All EnergyPlus versions from 7.2 forwards are supported.
  • A new Link to MagiCAD allows you to export your loads from DesignBuilder to MagiCAD to further develop the heating, cooling and ventilation design. 

Daylighting

  • DesignBuilder v7 includes a major upgrade of our daylighting tools. The most important new features are:
  • Annual Climate Based Daylight Modelling (CBDM) simulations are now run directly in Radiance fully implementing the method specified in LM-83-12, including dynamic blinds for sDA 300/50 calculations.
  • Reports are provided for LEED v4.1 Options 1 and 2 and BREEAM HEA 01 Option b annual daylighting credits.
  • Translucent Component blocks can now be simulated in daylighting simulations making it easier to accurately include objects such as trees in your model.
  • Daylight distribution maps are now displayed in the 3D modeller with options for numeric labels to be displayed in each cell and for colour palettes to be used. The new display helps make the context of the daylighting results clearer and your reports more impactful.

3D Ground Modelling with Kiva

DesignBuilder v7 includes Kiva 3D ground modelling for more accurate building-ground heat transfer calculations. Kiva is a validated state of the art ground modelling component within EnergyPlus to calculate key ground temperature profiles through the 3D ground domain at runtime. These profiles connect with the building ground adjacent surfaces to improve the accuracy of the ground heat transfer calculations.

Only a small amount of extra data is required to drive Kiva and there is little noticeable effect on simulation time. Unlike the constant temperature approach used in most energy models, it is not necessary to enter ground temperature data, which is rarely (if ever) available in practice. Instead, deep ground temperatures calculated from the hourly weather data are used as the lower boundary condition in the simulations.

There is even a “Kiva Basic” option which provides the extra accuracy but with only a few additional input parameters.

Enhanced Extensibility

DesignBuilder has always provided a relatively open platform with full access to simulation inputs, outputs, EMS runtime scripting tools and EnergyPlus source code. In v7 the scripting tools have been updated to enable model inputs and outputs to be processed before and after simulations with a choice of Python and C# languages:

  • Python scripting provides access to the full DesignBuilder API enabling an unlimited range of custom calculations, reports and model processing. 
  • Deeper access is now provided to DesignBuilder's optimisation, parametric and uncertainty and sensitivity analysis engine. New options allow custom design variables to be set up using scripts, and also any EnergyPlus output or custom EMS calculated output can now be used as a KPI.

These improvements to DesignBuilder's scripting tools open up new opportunities for energy modellers to search for the best solutions to project-specific performance targets and compliance requirements.

LEED and ASHRAE 90.1 Appendix G 2013 and 2016

  • DesignBuilder V7 supports ASHRAE 90.1 App G 2013 and 2016 modelling including the latest baseline HVAC systems.
  • Also, you can now automatically generate the LEED v4 Minimum Energy Performance Calculator reports directly from DesignBuilder with all the key data items filled out.

Modeller Updates

The modeller and visualisation tools sit at the heart of the DesignBuilder workflow and v7 sees some significant improvements in this area:

  • The Model data grid tool has been updated to allow HVAC data to be read and edited in a data grid form. The model data grid view data management tool enables you to define your own data views, optionally export the data to spreadsheet, modify it and then import it back to your DesignBuilder model. You can also now read in model data for component blocks and solar collectors, and zone names can now be edited there too!
  • A Follow Path tool has been added to help modellers generate complex block shapes, building on the capabilities provided by the existing block edit tools such as Boolean geometry, Add Surface, Cutting, Drag Face and Stretch. 
  • High temperature radiant heater, ideal for simulating warehouses etc

Customise the UI with Colour Schemes

DesignBuilder v7 allows you to change the appearance of your DesignBuilder working environment by selecting one of our fresh new colour themes… or create your own for something completely different!

Licensing Changes

With the release of v7, we are offering a choice of 1, 2 and 3-year licence options. Perpetual licences will no longer be available. These changes signal a move to a more "Agile" approach to our software development and release processes. And that means no long wait for the next major version to access new features and improvements!

Upgrade to v7 from our website.

For more details on the new features, see our What’s New in v7 webpage.

We hope you enjoy using DesignBuilder v7!

 

Reproduction and publication of this article and its contents in no way implies that IBPSA-USA endorses the products/services mentioned.