Validation of dynamic building energy simulation tools based on a real test-box with thermally activated building systems (TABS)

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Empirical validation and code-to-code comparison of more than one building simulation tool has seldom been done in literature. Therefore this paper presents the first detailed comparison of 1D building energy simulation tools with 3D CFD simulation and measurement data from a test bed (Test-Box), exposed to natural environmental conditions. Dymola (library: IDEAS), EnergyPlus, IDA ICE and TRNSYS –four com- monly used tools–were selected for comparison against highly accurate real measurement data and dy- namic CFD results. This paper evaluates the performance of mentioned above 1D simulation tools and in particular their implemented Thermally Activated Building Systems (TABS) models. The mean error, RMSE, standard deviation and maximal error for the room air, the ceiling surface and concrete tempera- ture of the Test-Box model results are acceptable for all tools. The time course of the room air tempera- ture follows the measurement data relatively well for all four tools. However, the negative bias (Dymola -0.92 K, EnergyPlus -2.18 K, IDA ICE -0.37 K and TRNSYS -1.13 K) indicates a general overestimation for all tools. Furthermore, the paper reflects the properties of simulation tools regarding the modelling language, GUIs, co-simulation capabilities and their recommended field of application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-55
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2018



  • TABS
  • building simulation
  • Dymola
  • EnergyPlus
  • CFD
  • equation-based modeling

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