Development of a Lab Prototype Building Model as a Resource for Design of Energy-Efficient Labs

Amy Allen, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy, in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest National Lab, has developed energy models of standardized commercial buildings for use in evaluation of building energy codes, known as prototype models. The inputs in the prototype models are thoroughly evaluated and documented, making the models useful starting points for research efforts, and for early-stage modeling for design of real buildings.

Prototype models exist for sixteen different building types, but laboratories are not currently represented. Resources that can guide energy modeling of new lab buildings are critically important for practitioners to be able to evaluate the effects of proposed efficiency features. Two national laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab, have worked on the development of a lab prototype building model.

This presentation will address the documentation of inputs for the lab prototype model, and the development of the building model itself. The lab prototype building model will be implemented as part of the OpenStudio Standard gem using the OpenStudio software development kit (SDK), which facilitates applying the model's configuration for envelope, HVAC systems and internal loads to an existing model of building geometry. The OpenStudio Standard gem (a Ruby library) is an extension of the OpenStudio SDK for creating the DOE prototype building models in OpenStudio format. The presentation will also address the role of the prototype model in the design of energy efficient labs, discussing how practitioners can use prototype building models, the interpretation of the 2016 ASHRAE 90.1 standard in the context of laboratory buildings, and benchmarks for evaluating modeled lab building energy usage.

Learning Objectives

  • know what the DOE prototype building models are, and be able to use them;
  • understand the implications of 2016 ASHRAE 90.1 for lab design;
  • understand important parameters in energy modeling of lab buildings, and resources for defining them; and
  • be able to apply key metrics for evaluating lab energy use.


Amy Allen is a researcher in the Commercial Buildings Group at NREL, and a graduate student in architectural engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a licensed mechanical engineer in the state of California.


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