Building America's House Simulation Protocols report is designed to assist researchers in tracking the progress of multiyear, whole-building energy reduction against research goals for new and existing homes. These protocols are preloaded into BEopt and use a consistent approach for defining a reference building, so that all projects can be compared to each other.

The steps involved in conducting performance analysis include:

  1. Defining the appropriate reference building
    Various climate regions, house sizes, and house ages require slightly different reference buildings; this report guides the user through to the most appropriate fit for the project.
  2. Selecting energy upgrades
    With an overwhelming number of options and technologies on the market, it can be difficult to narrow down the best choices for reaching savings goals. BEopt software can easily be used to determine the most cost-effective solutions for each project.
  3. Determining the energy savings
    After a project has been completed, the measures selected can be compared to the appropriate reference building using BEopt and the overall energy savings can be determined.

When BEopt software is not used to model energy use, researchers may want to use the analysis spreadsheets to assist with many of the calculations and tables in the House Simulation Protocols report. Another tool, the Domestic Hot Water (DHW) Event Schedule Generator can be used to generate custom, realistic, year-long hot water event schedules for use in modeling water heaters and DHW distribution systems. The ASHRAE Standard 152 spreadsheet tool, developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, quantifies the delivery efficiency of duct systems, based on factors including location, leakage, and insulation of ductwork.

New Construction

To track progress toward aggressive multiyear, new construction, whole-house energy savings goals of 30% to 50%, Building America developed a Research Benchmark building. This benchmark acts as a reference building for new construction test houses, and has recently been updated to be generally consistent with construction practices from 2010 (including many references from IECC 2009).

Existing Homes

Building America provides a set of guidelines for estimating the energy savings achieved by a package of retrofits or an extensive rehabilitation of an existing home. Several sets of default efficiency values have been developed for certain older appliances that cannot be easily tested, and for which published specifications are not readily available. Note: Before Building America research team members implement retrofit measures on an existing home, health and safety concerns must be addressed in accordance with the Building America Retrofit Participation Requirements and Release document.

Operating Conditions

This portion of the report outlines a set of typical operating conditions that can be referenced for the purpose of using a building simulation model to compare energy use against the benchmark, or before and after a series of retrofits are completed. The operating conditions listed in the report give detailed definitions and use profiles for all end-use categories.