Paper Conference

2020 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild co-organized by ASHRAE and IBPSA-USA


URBANopt: An Open-Source Software Development Kit for Community and Urban District Energy Modeling

Rawad El Kontar, Ben Polly, Tanushree Charan, Katherine Fleming, Nathan Moore, Nicholas Long, David Goldwasser
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO

Abstract: Urban building modeling tools are developing rapidly; these tools use emerging simulation workflows for specific urban environmental design tasks, such as assessing the impacts of energy efficiency technologies at a district scale. However, with the emergence of new environmental design tasks, addressing all possible use cases and tasks is challenging and cannot be covered by a single tool. Urban-scale analysis at this level of complexity often requires linking multiple emerging tools, rather than using a single tool, to adequately evaluate a variety of possible fields in urban environmental design. To achieve this, flexible platforms are needed to support multiple input formats (e.g., geometric and non-geometric building properties), enabling the mapping of such inputs to underlying simulation engines. This paper provides an overview of the open-source URBANopt Software Development Kit (SDK) for modeling high-performance buildings and energy systems at a district scale. URBANopt's flexible SDK is composed of several modules that can be customized to integrate with other tools and generate new workflows to perform urban environmental design tasks, such as capturing interactions between individual buildings, district energy systems, distributed energy resources, and the electric distribution grid. We describe the functionality of the core SDK modules in URBANopt (called Core Gem, GeoJSON Gem, and Scenario Gem) and discuss the flexibility of these modules as a means of integration with a variety of tools. We also document and demonstrate technical details of writing and combining new modules to create customized workflows. Finally, we present a case study that uses the URBANopt SDK to model a hypothetical mixed-use urban project and simulate various scenarios to meet district energy performance goals.
Pages: 293 - 301