Nov 15, 2017
Joshua New has an ambitious goal to increase the nation’s efficient use of energy: he wants to create a model of every building in America. All 130 million of them.
For now, New and his colleagues in the Building Envelope and Urban Systems group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are creating virtual models of the buildings in a 535-square-mile service territory for the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee—roughly 170,000 in all. The modeling team has also simulated buildings on the ORNL campus and at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).
The AutoBEM (Automatic Building Energy Model) program they created for the work taps satellite imagery, street views, and other publicly available data and will give insight into a building’s size and energy makeup, everything from the number of windows to heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Using the high-performance computing assets at ORNL, the program gathers those inputs, creates a building energy model, and decides which technologies might best be employed to save energy, whether it’s a smart thermostat, advanced water heater, or other improvements.