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EnergyPlus Cloud helps Morrison Hershfield consider more design options

June 16, 2015

Morrison Hershfield recently tested the Autodesk EnergyPlus Cloud service on a confidential healthcare project.  Here’s a brief summary of their experience shared by Christian Cianfrone, Principal, Building Energy Specialist. While we are ecstatic that EPC’s speed has helped them consider more options that local runs, we also want to make sure the result reports are providing valuable insights. Thanks for the feedback MH!

Due to the size and complexity of health care projects that we typically work on, run-times in EnergyPlus can reach several hours.  While long run times are not necessarily a barrier to providing final compliance results, much of the effort in the energy modeling process is spent troubleshooting models through our internal quality control processes. Troubleshooting models includes testing numerous methods for non-typical design parameters to assess which object most closely matches the design intent.  This process is iterative and can involve running dozens and dozens of models.  We also run options analysis to inform key design decisions.  This requires running multiple variations on the model, which can be quite time consuming and restrictive depending on project schedule. 


Building Energy Optimization Tool MH uses to read thousands of energy simulation results.

For this project, MH turned to the EnergyPlus Cloud service, where results were provided in as little as 20 minutes compared to 6+ hours on high performance local computers.  In terms of an options analysis, the cloud service was extremely helpful.  It allowed us to consider and run more options that we would have if we were limited to local machines.  However, in terms of troubleshooting the model, the cloud service was somewhat restrictive.  By not being able to extract a detailed summary of monthly and/or hourly reports, it became difficult to scrutinize certain aspects of the results that are integral to our quality control process.  The other limitations we faced were complex utility rates with ratchets and demand charges could not be captured on the cloud service, due to the splitting of the file into many smaller timesteps.

The increase in speed at the expense of detailed reporting is useful for certain parts of MH’s workflows and we will certainly use the service for large projects like this in the future.  However, we would also like to see more detailed reporting, even at the expense of speed, to get a good balance of speed and reports.


Have you tried the EnergyPlus Cloud technology preview yet? Got feedback? Let us know! The technology preview will be available until the end of June.



Efrat Stark is a Product Manager at Autodesk who works on Autodesk's online properties. Her main products are Autodesk University Online and Community which includes blogs, social share, social sign in, comments, reviews, public profiles, and more.