Energy Efficient Buildings Hub Simulation Platform

web software to support decision making in building retrofit projects

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2013

53 people from 13 organizations

in 12 different U.S. cities

set out to integrate 10+ building energy software packages



into 1 user-friendly interface

with building expert knowledge embedded throughout


on 1 web platform

publicly available to billions of people


built with a cloud infrastructure of
4 Dell Servers, VMware vSphere+vCenter,
& 20 virtual machines

.  .  .  11 months later  .  .  .


4 web tools ‚óŹ 4 levels of complexity


Lite



Partial



Substantial



Comprehensive





1 interface simplifies the best parts of 8 enginesE, 3 mockupsM, 5 external resourcesR, and 1 retrofit gameG, online at:

tools.eebhub.org

My Buildings 
Dashboard

Run Simulations 
in Cloud

Save Inputs & Outputs
in Cloud

User/Company 
Login

Upload Utility Data 
Portfolio Manager / Excel

Data Flow
across Tools

Weather Support
for 18 Cities

Dual Units
English + Metric



all designed to ENGAGE owners & SUPPORT decision making in building retrofit projects

The EEB Hub Simulation Platform features were developed with a focus on (1) user experience, (2) stakeholder engagement, and (3) data accessibility.  Features not shown above include an ASHRAE Accuracy Assessment, Feedback Pop-up, and Visitors Dashboard.

VISITORS

tracked with Google Analytics & Geckoboard from Sept 2013 - Feb 2014

pageviews



visits/month

unique visitors



Top Entrances

1

Direct to tools.eebhub.org

2

Google

3

Weekly Hub-date Emails           

Top Operating Systems

1

Macintosh

2

Windows

3

iOS (iPhone, iPod)

Top Web Browsers

1

Chrome

2

Firefox

3

Safari

COLLABORATIONS

case studies

x 6 Institutions = 18 Energy Models of Building Retrofits

reports to U.S. DOE



team presentations

focus groups

which generated

70+

Functional Ideas

52

Votes


screenshots of inspiration

a Graphical User Interface (GUI) Library of Building Energy Software for us and the world

shared database

SimDB (Simulation Database) supports features such as user login, data flow across tools, my buildings dashboard, & saving inputs in the cloud.  We used a NoSQL, Document Based, Database built with MongoDB.  The documents are made up of JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) files with attributes based off of the DOE's Building Energy Data Exchange Specification (BEDES).  For disk space reference, each complex simulation produces 20MB (for EnergyPlus outputs). As of January 2014, there were:

22

Users / Companies

24

Saved Buildings


lines of code

= 23,229 lines of team created code + 67,202 lines of open source code

includes comments, 4,539 files, 143 images; estimated lines of code per project weekday = 105
all available at github.com/eebhub/platform

built with

software comprised of over 20 million lines of open source code

Ubuntu Linux

Operating System

1M

Node.js

Server Language

1.8M

Bootstrap

Front-End Styling

47K*

Express

Web Framework

7K*

MongoDB

Document Database

0.5M

Linux Kernel

Hardware Management

16M

npm

Package Manager

74K

Github

Software Versioning

0.3M

Apache

Web Server

2.2M

Cloud9 IDE

Online Coding Environment

4K

KEY   |   Number = Lines of Open Source Code in 2013   |   M = Million   |   K = Thousand
The EEB Hub Simulation Platform could not have been built in 11 months without the use of open source software tools.   While all software listed above supported the creation of tools.eebhub.org, only frameworks with an asteriks* were included in the code base.   Honorable mentions of open source software also used include Embedded JavaScript (html templates), Cyberduck (server file transfer), Brackets.io (offline coding environment), & ASHRAE Inverse Modeling Toolkit, and Google's V8 JavaScript Engine (which powers Node.js).  Open source icons are credited to Iconmonstr, Glyphicons, FontAwesome, and TheNounProject

LESSONS LEARNED


1.  To enable effective national collaboration use:

Video Conferencing

to make virtual meetings more natural with Telepresence or Hangouts


Google Apps

to co-create documents in realtime, use a list-serv email address, & generate easy links


2.  To build a web application with a small team of developers as fast as possible use:

Node.js

to speak 1 Language [JavaScript] for coding in the browser, server, & database


Document Database

to allow for a flexible JSON data structure that can be read/critiqued by entire team


3.  To support software integration, standardize an operating system early in project.

We used Ubuntu Linux because it's free, open source, extremely well documented, & proven for live production web apps.  Read full lessons learned deliverable reports here.


to learn even more

check out the 8 news articles published throughout 2013, especially the culminating research digest summary:
The above article highlights the free and user-friendly building energy simulation web tools created throughout 2013 as well as this positive example of collaboration across research universities (PSU, MIT, CMU, UPenn), national labs (NREL, NIST), and industrial firms (IBM, UTRC).