ASHRAE has begun a research project to close the “energy efficiency” language gap between engineers who use energy analysis and simulation software and architects who use building information modeling software. The project is one of 13 approved for funding by ASHRAE at its 2009 Annual Conference, totaling some $1.6 million.

ASHRAE Research Project 1468, Development of a Reference Building Information Model (BIM) for Thermal Model Compliance Testing, was awarded to Texas A&M University. The $175,311 project is expected to take 15 months to complete. It is sponsored by ASHRAE’s technical committee (TC) 1.5, Computer Applications.

The project will develop open-source reference models by which developers may test their solutions to interoperability between BIM and energy simulation software. The project will focus on the most common thermal features in buildings assumed to have the greatest impact on energy use, and provide guidelines for describing thermal models extracted from BIM and the rules for extracting those models used in whole building energy analysis applications.

Studies have shown that problems related to exchanging information among various building design software systems causes more than $16 billion per year of unnecessary expense. Given that new computer technologies for representing buildings are expected to transform the processes for architectural engineering design services, it is imperative that standards for data exchange among disparate software systems be established, according to Mark Clayton, Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Housing and Urban Development at Texas A&M.

Other projects approved for funding include:

• Development of Design Tools for Surface Water Heat Pump Systems, RP-1385, Oklahoma State University, two years, $193,132, sponsored by TC 6.8, Geothermal Energy Utilization.

• Establishing Benchmark Levels and Patterns of Commercial Building Hot Water use, RP-1544, Research Quality and Design Engineering, 18 months, $190,000, sponsored by TC 6.6, Service Water Heating.