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Featured Projects

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Virtual Reality Daylighting

Nathaniel Jones

Researcher: Nathaniel Jones
Institution: MIT

AcceleradRT, the next generation in daylighting simulation, is an interactive interface for real-time daylighting, glare, and visual comfort analysis.It was developed by Nathaniel Jones at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab and modeled after the popular Radiance software suite developed by Greg Ward at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In order to allow for smooth adoption among Radiance users and software developers, Accelerad maintains compatibility with Radiance file formats, materials, and command-line arguments.

AcceleradRT uses progressive path tracing to provide daylighitng simulation results in real time with validated accuracy. It includes AcceleradVR, an immersive visualization interface compatible with most virtual reality headsets.

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Project Website
Thesis Presentation
Source Code Repository

Boston Energy Model

Nathaniel Jones

Researchers: Carlos Cerezo, Jamie Bemis, Tarek Rakha, and Christoph Reinhart 
Institution: MIT

City governments and their partners are increasingly focusing on the development of urban energy efficiency strategies for buildings as a key component to meet policy-driven carbon reduction targets. Similarly, energy utilities and suppliers need to develop long term supply strategies that are cost efficient and resilient against natural and man-made interference. To support these diverse needs, a new generation of urban building energy models (UBEM) is currently being developed for the estimation of citywide hourly energy demand loads down to the individual building level. However, for cities to apply them, effective modeling workflows adapted to their current urban data structures need to be provided.

Within this context, the authors collaborated with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and local building experts to develop a citywide UBEM based on the official GIS dataset of the city. The vision for this work was to produce a long term policy support tool that the city could regularly update going forward, and that provides actionable information for local communities to evaluate energy related decisions. The Boston model was developed with support from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).

The geometric input for Boston’s UBEM tool was extracted from GIS shapefiles, and a total of 76 different building archetypes were then assigned to individual buildings based on land use and building age. Most data manipulation and thermal model generation processes were conducted within the Rhinoceros 3D CAD environment. Individual building models were run using the US Department of Energy’s EnergyPlus energy simulation program. Simulation results were cross checked against reported average energy use from the US Residential and Commercial Building Energy Consumption Surveys (RBECS, CBECS).

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Project Website
Sponsor Website

Chicago Energy Bazaar


Researchers: Christoph Reinhart, Shreshth Nagpal, and Carlos Cerezo Davila
Institution: MIT

The role of utilities is to provide reliable, affordable and clean energy to their clients. To meet this expectation, utilities have long focused on the construction and maintenance of an energy supply system that provides energy services to buildings, street lighting and other elements of the built environments, usually with a mindset that demand will steadily grow over time. Given the proliferation of distributed energy resources along with energy efficiency measures implemented at the building level, we seem to be reaching a turning point at which future energy demand is expected to fall and the grid will increasingly assume the role of a brokering and storage system. To be prepared for these changes, utilities would benefit from developing a better understanding of how building energy demand curves are likely going to change over time. This project accordingly proposes to develop technology that facilitates the design of a building energy infrastructure platform (Energy Bazar) for the City of Chicago.

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Project Website