return to the Australian HVAC system design data website

NOTICE of software available for building thermal performance assessment (TPA):

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has licenced UQ to deliver training in the OpenStudio modelling ecosystem, for commercial thermal performance assessment (TPA - Part A). Sustainability Victoria (SV) has licenced UQ to deliver training in the NatHERS house energy rating tool FirstRate5, for residential thermal performance assessment (TPA - Part B).

Register here for NREL OpenStudio - Part A of Building Thermal Performance (Section J of Australian Building Code) after a venue is advised.

University of Queensland School of Civil Engineering - Sustainable Built Environment - Thermal Performance Assessment (TPA)

Part A - NREL OpenStudio

Australian building energy modeling with NREL’s OpenStudio - the open-source gateway to EnergyPlus

Successful consultants use the internationally recognised building energy simulation engine developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, EnergyPlus, but some subscribe to expensive commercial frontends for EnergyPlus while others spend more for fancier graphics with inferior calculation engine at the backend. EnergyPlus is THE building energy modeling simulation engine which can best account for energy AND water use in a whole building. It allows architects, engineers and building designers to optimise and enhance energy efficiency performance of a building to economically achieve the requirements of the Building Code of Australia – or to go all the way to net-zero benchmark of the living building challenge. It is without doubt the most advanced building energy modeling simulation engine available in the world because it explicitly models HVAC and lighting services as well as passive alternatives. The associated parametric analysis tool (PAT) enables launching onto cloud computing services multifarious variations on the deemed-to-satisfy (DtS) base-case. EnergyPlus is recognised in the Building Code of Australia, NABERS and Green Star protocols as an approved building energy modeling program for energy performance estimation of a building.

Many successful consulting services use EnergyPlus to establish reference building and alternative design solutions under National Construction Code (a.k.a. Building Code of Australia) Section J Verification Method JV3. GreenStar Energy Calculators and NABERS Energy Commitment Agreements are other Australian uses of EnergyPlus building energy modelling. A new and developing market for building energy simulation with EnergyPlus is to make the business-case for rooftop and façade-integrated photovoltaic electricity generation. OpenStudio provides a measure to model PV panels as both shading the building from air-conditioning load and in generating on-site power. The hourly balance of feed-in or buy-in from the electricity network allows the building design-team to match east- and west-facing PV to meet the demand-side of the proposition. The new driver is that power networks are resisting feed-in, while building owners can avoid buy-in.


For larger, non-residential, on-site PV installations to pay-back, solar planning at the building design stage is vital to ensure generation is consumed in-house rather than feeding-back to the power network. Recently commissioned "zero-energy" buildings in the United States have been design with OpenStudio by a balanced process of reducing the energy demand 50% below that which is deemed to satify building codes, and providing on-site renewable energy generation for the remainder. Two consecutive days introductory OpenStudio workshop will start from the basics of modelling with the Sketchup plug-in, to using OpenStudio to determine the Building Code of Australia deemed-to-satisfy thermal performance assessment .

A basic level of passive solar design is required in the Energy Efficiency Provisions of the National Construction Code (NCC). Section J of NCC Volume 1 provides for building integrated renewable energy systems to offset excessive demands of lighting, heating, and cooling but do not permit a passive solar performance of building fabric less than deemed-to-satisfy (DtS) benchmarks. Passive solar architecture design can far exceed DtS benchmarks if the appropriate Thermal Performance Assessment (TPA) software is used to confirm alternative solutions. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed the OpenStudio ecosystem of TPA software that is the focus of 10 hours detailed training offered by the School of Civil Engineering 1st and 2nd April 2015.

The aims of this introductory two-day workshop are:

Solar by Design Commercial Solar Installation

Novices are advised to install Sketchup Make 2014 by indicating they are using it for personal purposes at

All users are asked to start with the latest build of OpenStudio (version 1.7.0 released March 2015) by registering and navigating to

All participants should have a Windows 7 - 8.1 or OS X 10.9 - 10.10 laptop with OpenStudio 1.7 installed following instructions by clicking here.

Download this preliminary Australian construction and schedule template.

After loading into Sketchup OpenStudio plug-in use inspector to set the default space type according to BCA class, using default construction set, and default schedule set on the building object

EnergyPlus Weather Data website provides Australian NatHERS2006 RMY climate files.

The Commonwealth of Australia contracted NIWA to develop NatHERS2012 TMY climate files.

The Energy Plus Weather Program converted the "A-weighted" NatHERS2012 file for Brisbane airport to this EPW file.

The EnergyPlus Weather Converter also produced this DDY "design day file" using "Climate Design Data 2009 ASHRAE Handbook".

What is OpenStudio?

Developed by NREL and the US Department of Energy, OpenStudio is a cross-platform (Windows, Mac, and Linux) collection of software tools to support whole building energy modeling using EnergyPlus and advanced daylight analysis using Radiance. OpenStudio is an open source project to facilitate community development, extension, and private sector adoption. OpenStudio includes graphical interfaces along with a Software Development Kit (SDK).


What is SketchUp?

Trimble SketchUp (formerly known as Google SketchUp), is a 3D modeling program used in architectural design, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video game design. A freeware version, Sketchup Make, and a paid version with additional functionality, Sketchup Pro are available. There is an online repository of free-of-charge model assemblies (e.g., windows, doors, automobiles, etc.), 3D Warehouse, to which users may contribute models. The program includes drawing layout functionality, allows surface rendering in variable "styles", supports third-party "plug-in" programs hosted on a site called Extension Warehouse to provide other capabilities (e.g., near photo-realistic rendering), and enables placement of its models within Google Earth.