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Energy Modeling in the Design Studio

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The Carbon Neutral Design Project:
Carbon Neutral Teaching: Curriculum Materials Development
Gregory D. Thomson
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Spring 2008 UWM Solar Decathlon Carbon Neutral House Project
- mixed UG/G comprehensive design studio (first semester)

Energy Modeling in the Design Studio

Energy Model

Design Performance Objective

Energy Modeling

Energy modeling in the design studio took several approaches. Most of the effort in the first semester of the Solar Decathlon was to evaluate passive measures of thermal and solar control. Interior ventilation and comfort were studied using computational fluid dynamics. The primary tool for these analyses was IES - Virtual Environment. In addition, energy incident on the building was studied (and related back to the on-site energy production section of the studio), in order to understand the potentials for producing electricity through solar electric systems.

Student: Sally Massman
Software / Tools:

IES - Virtual Environment

Spring 2008 UWM Solar Decathlon Carbon Neutral House Project- mixed UG/G comprehensive design studio (first semester)

Energy Modeling in the Design Studio

Create analytical component to the design studio that can evaluate design intentions and criteria.

• course and project outline

Investigative Strategy

Use parametric models and iterative design steps to set the stage to evaluate relative differences between design choices.

Evaluation Process

Evaluate the results of the parametric analysis. Discuss the implications of design decisions, and evaluate the pros and cons of the iterative steps. Prepare a second set of iterative models and analyze them in the same manner. The UWM Carbon Neutral House project has attempted to introduce leading edge energy modeling software into the design studio in a way that is intended to aid in the design process. It has been a complicated process and not the smoothest transition between design and evaluation. It has been informative to the design in that it has allowed us to see the implications of design decisions, primarily with respect to the location and number of window openings.

This has been true both in the daylighting and heating / cooling realms. The greatest benefit of the use of this software has been the capacity to evaluate design intent with simulated performance. While we don’t know how close our predictions are to real conditions at this point, we have been able to perform a nice variety of parametric studies that show us the relative difference between design choices.

Evaluative Criteria


Cautions - Possible Confusions
Range of Applicability in terms of CLIMATE
Range of Applicability in terms of TYPE
Reference Material

Duration of Exercise

Degree of Difficulty / Previous Knowledge Required



Energy Modeling
Student: Sally Massman


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