The Integration of Architectural Design and Energy Modelling Software

Hetherington, Robina Elizabeth (2013). The Integration of Architectural Design and Energy Modelling Software. PhD thesis The Open University.



Intelligent and integrated architectural design can substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from energy used in buildings. However, architects need new tools to help them to design enjoyable, comfortable, attractive and yet technically rigorous, low energy buildings. This thesis investigates, by means of a Research Through Design approach, how architectural software could be better designed to fulfil this need by the integration of design, energy simulation and decision support systems.

The problem domain of the design of buildings with very low energy requirements was analysed. Two case studies were employed to investigate the limitations with current software. User and domain software requirements were recorded and analysed. Conflicting requirements were noted, in particular, dichotomous views of the building model. An investigation was carried out into the different interoperable standards that result in these views and rules on how to compose the building model as a series of Intelligent Spaces proposed. The Intelligent Spaces would be abstract volumes, enclosed by zero thickness surfaces, which have data and rules attached. Early prototyping of integrated software was carried out by means of a series of sketches and diagrammatic examples.

The novel feature of the proposal is that it maintains both an abstract and detailed version of the building model through all stages of the building design and use. Key features of the proposed software are: 1) the ability to move iteratively between sketch to detailed design to explore different approaches to the building form and construction, 2) the setting and monitoring of relevant energy targets throughout the different building design stages and 3) the integration of an advisory system linked to energy targets to support decision making. This space based approach to the software has the potential to provide a ‘designerly’ front to the sophisticated processes of a Building Information Modelling environment.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions