DOE Updates EnergyPlus Program for Building Energy Design

April 18, 2007

DOE issued a new version of its award-winning EnergyPlus program on April 12th. The EnergyPlus program allows architects, building engineers, and others to model the energy flow within a building, examining the effects of the building's heating, cooling, ventilating, and lighting systems. The software allows users to simulate the performance of a building at intervals of less than an hour, studying the energy and thermal comfort effects of a variety of energy strategies, including natural ventilation, dividing homes into multiple heating and cooling zones, and adding solar photovoltaic panels. Version 2.0, released on April 12th, allows users to include green roofs, phase-change materials, and advanced building controls in their building designs. Hourly weather data from around the world is also available for use with the program. The free EnergyPlus Version 2.0 for Windows and Linux is available on the EnergyPlus Web site.

Although EnergyPlus is a widely used program for simulating building energy use, hundreds of such programs have been developed over the past 50 years. How do building designers know which tool to use? A report published in 2005 examined 20 such programs to compare and contrast their capabilities. The report found that each tool has its strengths and concluded that building designers should employ a suite of tools in their work, rather than relying on a single all-purpose tool. DOE contributed significantly to the report (PDF 585 KB). Download Adobe Reader.