IBPSA England Newsletter
View this email in your browser

The electronic Newsletter of IBPSA England (2021 No. 1)

Dear IBPSA England members,
Welcome to the first issue of the year. Last year has been strange and difficult. We hope that you and your families remain well and that things begin to improve soon.

In this issue, we are first sharing research stories from two young members of IBPSA-England - Ehsan Ahmadian (
Item 1) and Dan Wright (Item 2). The issue proceeds with details of a workshop coordinated by our IBPSA-England Co-Secretary Rokia Raslan (Item 3). DesignBuilder v7 is here. Item 4 presents few highlights of v7. To conclude, the usual "Ask a Modeler" column from IBPSA-USA and a calendar of future BPS-related events. 

Happy reading!
Renjith Jayapalan Nair 
IBPSA England eNews Editor

P.S. The IBPSA eNews is published on a quarterly basis, namely at the end of the following months: March, June, September, and December. If you would like to share Building Performance Simulation related information with all IBPSA England delegates, please don't hesitate to send an email to r.jayapalan-nair@lboro.ac.uk

Item 1:  IBPSA-England Young Blood Forum: Research Story - 1

"Impact of Urban Built Form and Urban Density on Building Energy Performance in Different Climates"
Ehsan Ahmadian,
Doctoral Researcher,
University of Lincoln


Cities are recognized as the main consumers of energy on the planet, and to optimize their energy performance, built form and density are considered highly influential factors. Many studies have debated the energy efficiency of compact built forms. Meanwhile, as an attribute of urban form, urban density has yet to be well defined due to the diversity of density indicators used in literature.
This thesis establishes a framework to demonstrate the inter-correlation of urban built form, density and energy, and the impact of climate as an influential parameter is investigated by adopting a mixed-methods research approach. It primarily identifies the simultaneous correlation of two selected density indicators with influential variables developed from the geometry of four selected urban built forms by introducing a novel indicator termed the Form Signature. An urban energy simulation software, CitySim, is adopted to conduct sensitivity analyses. An energy indicator, termed Energy Equity, is also introduced that simultaneously considers the amount of building energy demand and PV energy generation. Cross case study analysis (London, Singapore, Helsinki and Phoenix) is undertaken to examine the impact of climate.
Graphical results of the Form Signature indicator prove that the term ‘high density’ is crucially dependent on the definition of the density indicator. Energy analysis results show that buildings with a greater number of storeys and greater plan depth (equivalent to low values of plot ratio) have lower energy demand. However, when PV generation is also considered, the low number of storeys and great plan depth can improve the energy performance of buildings (equivalent to low plot ratio and high site coverage). Having identical geometric variables, tunnel-court form (that is introduced in this study) provides the greatest density while pavilion form provides the lowest. The energy performance of tunnel-court form is also the highest in all considered climates, while the pavilion form shows the lowest energy performance. Nevertheless, if density remains constant and geometric variables are changed, the opposite becomes true. An important conclusion is that the site plans with similar built forms and densities may have different energy performance since the same value of density can be achieved by different combinations of geometrical variables.
Increasing the cut-off angle reduces building energy demand in cooling-dominated buildings (i.e. in Singapore and Phoenix), while increase building energy demand in heating-dominated buildings (i.e. in London and Helsinki). Therefore, increasing density through cut-off angle is not always energy efficient as it depends on climate. In general, building energy demand in London is the lowest among the case studies, while it is the highest in Singapore (up to 219% higher than London). London also shows the highest value of Energy Equity, and Helsinki shows the lowest (up to 51% lower than London).
Considering future scenarios (i.e. the impact of climate change and penetration of EVs into the transportation sector), the total building energy demand in 2050 will be 48% higher than at present, on average. A recommendation for future urban planning in London is that court and tunnel-court forms will be more energy-efficient, and possessing a lower number of storeys, a small cut-off angle, and greater plan depth will further improve their energy performance.
The holistic outcome of this study provides urban energy planning guidelines that can be used by various stakeholders in the built environment.

Item 2:  IBPSA-England Young Blood Forum: Research Story - 2

"The energy-saving potential of domestic zonal space heating controls: A socio-technical assessment of semi-detached and owner-occupied UK homes"
Dan Wright
Sustainability Lead,
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust


Over the past thirty years, heating in at least 79% of UK homes has involved warming the entire indoor space through the use of a central heating system (Office of National Statistics, 2019), resulting in heating rooms that are used rarely or periodically (e.g. bedrooms) as well as rooms that are used commonly (e.g. living rooms). Zonal heating controls are among the new smart heating technologies on offer and allow occupants to choose which rooms they heat, for how long they are heated and the temperature to which they are heated. This interdisciplinary research aims to evaluate the energy-saving potential of domestic zonal heating controls. A socio-technical research design was used to investigate how the occupants of a set of semi-detached, owner-occupied homes across the Midlands region of the UK (n = 24) interacted with zonal heating controls provided as part of their involvement with a previous research study and how their gas use and indoor air temperature changed following installation. 

A comparison of weather-normalised gas use for twelve months before and twelve months after installation of zonal heating controls showed a change in gas use between a 25% reduction and a 37% increase. A further twelve months of gas use was analysed to assess the consistency of change, highlighting an equally broad variation (range of 37% reduction to 18% increase against the baseline). However, 61% of homes consistently reduced, consistently increased or did not appreciably change their gas use over the 24 months following installation of zonal heating controls. Household interviews were used to identify extraneous variables and revealed that, while zonal heating controls could not be definitively attributed to observed gas use change, they may have been influential. Whilst there were small changes in average indoor air temperature after the installation of zonal controls (range of 1.2°C decreases to 1.4°C increase against the baseline), no relationship was found between change in gas use and change in living room or main bedroom air temperature. 

This research has built on studies that rely on modelling and laboratory experiments by investigating the energy-saving potential of zonal heating controls through a multi-year field study. The mixed-method approach has enabled a holistic consideration of the role that zonal heating controls could play in the future of domestic space heating in the wider market. This meets a critical need to complement the analysis of gas use and air temperature change after installation of zonal heating controls, to evaluate their potential as an energy-saving measure, with an assessment of how and why energy use may have increased or decreased. This research contributes to the evidence base for new policies aimed at reducing domestic space heating demand, bolsters understanding of heating strategies for use in modelling applications and supports the future design of heating controls.

Item 3:  Call for participants to the workshop on Climate Resilience of Micro, Small & Medium Industrial Workplaces in Egypt: A future-fit approach to retrofit

Under the Researcher Links Climate Challenge Workshops scheme funded by the British Council, the University College London and American University in Cairo will be holding a virtual workshop on the above theme from 1st June -3rd June 2021. The workshop is being coordinated by Rokia Raslan (University College London) and Khaled Tarabieh (American University in Cairo), and will have contributions from other leading researchers. There will be a focus on building up links for future collaborations, and participants selected on the basis of their research potential and ability to build longer-term links, will be able to apply for challenge prizes to further their research. 

Early Career Researchers from the UK and Egypt can apply to attend this workshop. To apply, please use the online application form, which can be accessed at https://forms.gle/RDDqQeWWvByRVFEE9 before the deadline of 25th April 2021. For more details on the initiative, including on the workshop structureeligibility and requirements see https://cresmi.org/

Item 4:  Software News: DesignBuilder v7 Is Here!

DesignBuilder is a GUI that makes using the best available open-source engines (EnergyPlus, Radiance, and soon OpenFOAM) as fast, easy, and productive as possible. 
DesignBuilder’s flexibility enables early-stage models to be developed seamlessly into detailed design, including LEED, BREEAM, EPC and Building Regulations compliance across the UK and Ireland. The ability to create bespoke detailed HVAC systems, and connect HVAC plant to a wide variety of distribution and terminal system combinations, is likely to become increasingly important with the proposed new “Design for Performance” national performance-based policy framework in England and Wales. 
DesignBuilder v7 will add powerful new features that extend DesignBuilder’s capabilities and improve modelling workflow and productivity. Here are just a few of the v7 highlights:
  • Latest EnergyPlus v9.4.
  • Quickly edit, review, import and export Detailed HVAC and other model data in grid form.
  • New “Follow Path” tool builds on existing best-in-class geometry editing capabilities.
  • Accurate modelling of the 3D ground domain heat transfer via Kiva.
  • IDF import and direct export to MagiCAD are added to the existing IDF export, gbXML and spreadsheet import/export to maximise interoperability between DesignBuilder and other BIM and simulation tools.
  • Python scripting access to our API to enable plugins and scripts for an unlimited range of custom calculations, reports, and model processing by users and 3rd party developers.
  • Using the scripting tools (Python, C#, EnergyPlus EMS), access any EnergyPlus, EMS or custom output as a KPI in optimisation, parametric, and uncertainty analyses.
  • ASHRAE 90.1 App G 2013 and 2016 support.
  • Climate based daylight modelling through Radiance.
  • Full implementation of LM-83-12 Spatial Daylight Autonomy (sDA) and Annual Sunlight Exposure (ASE) with dynamic blinds.
  • Daylight distribution maps displayed in the modeller allowing illuminance levels to be viewed alongside building features such as windows, shades, and light shelves.
  • You can find out more, including how to access the v7 beta version here

If you would like to share Building Performance Simulation related information with all IBPSA England delegates, please don't hesitate to send an email to r.jayapalan-nair@lboro.ac.uk

Ask a Modeler

How Can Energy Modeling be Made More Scalable and More Manageable for Retrofit Projects?

- Big Apple Energy Modeler

Zoltan Nagy,
Assistant Professor,
The University of Texas at Austin

Answer on the IBPSA-USA website:

We want to hear your interesting, entertaining, or just plain odd questions about life and building performance simulation. Submit your questions to be answered by prominent building performance simulation experts. Note that questions requiring an immediate response should be submitted to the community of experts at unmethours.com. If you are interested in replying to a question as a featured expert or have any other feedback about Ask a Modeler please email askamodeler@ibpsa.us.

  • CIBSE Technical Symposium, 13-14 July 2021 – cibse.org
  • Building Simulation 2021 conference, 1-3 September 2021 [Bruges, Belgium] – bs2021.org
A calendar with events organised by other regional affiliates of IBPSA can be found in the bi-annual IBPSA World newsletter: www.ibpsa.org/ibpsa-newsletter/
IBPSA England official website
IBPSA England Twitter account
IBPSA University YouTube Channel
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.