Building energy simulation coupled with CFD for indoor environment: A critical review and recent applications

Wei Tian, Xu Han, Wangda Zuo, Michael D. Sohn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


This paper presents a comprehensive review of the open literature on motivations, methods and applications of linking stratified airflow simulation to building energy simulation (BES). First, we reviewed the motivations for coupling prediction models for building energy and indoor environment. This review classified various exchanged data in different applications as interface data and state data, and found that choosing different data sets may lead to varying performance of stability, convergence, and speed for the co-simulation. Second, our review shows that an external coupling scheme is substantially more popular in implementations of co-simulation than an internal coupling scheme. The external coupling is shown to be generally faster in computational speed, as well as easier to implement, maintain and expand than the internal coupling. Third, the external coupling can be carried out in different data synchronization schemes, including static coupling and dynamic coupling. In comparison, the static coupling that performs data exchange only once is computationally faster and more stable than the dynamic coupling. However, concerning accuracy, the dynamic coupling that requires multiple times of data exchange is more accurate than the static coupling. Furthermore, the review identified that the implementation of the external coupling can be achieved through customized interfaces, middleware, and standard interfaces. The customized interface is straightforward but may be limited to a specific coupling application. The middleware is versatile and user-friendly but usually limited in data synchronization schemes. The standard interface is versatile and promising, but may be difficult to implement. Current applications of the co-simulation are mainly energy performance evaluation and control studies. Finally, we discussed the limitations of the current research and provided an overview for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-199
Number of pages16
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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