Review of BIM's application in energy simulation: Tools, issues, and solutions

Ehsan Kamel, Ali M. Memari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Building Information Modeling (BIM) initially emerged as a capability to transfer information and allow interaction or interoperability of various software tools used for architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical design, and building construction. Its application from developing 3D models, structural analysis, cost estimation, and mechanical analysis has now expanded to other applications such as energy simulation. Multiple computer-aided design (CAD) tools work as BIM authoring tools to generate BIM files in different formats containing various types of building information. In addition, there are various building energy modeling (BEM) tools capable of importing these BIM files to perform energy simulation. However, such tools have various capabilities and limitations and need to be investigated and categorized in order to facilitate choosing a proper tool for design professionals in different phases of project and purposes. In addition, interoperability and data exchange issues between BIM and BEM tools should be understood in order to find solutions such as developing proper corrective middleware tools to rectify them. This paper reviews the challenges, issues, and shortcomings in BIM-to-BEM interoperability process (BBIP) by proposing a detailed classification for these issues and studying the available solutions. The paper also explains how a corrective middleware, which is developed by the authors using Python, can be utilized to modify a gbXML file prior to adoption in energy simulation to resolve the issues related to building envelope in BBIP. To do so, initially a review is presented on research studies focused on different types of BIM schemas such as IFC and gbXML and energy simulation tools capable of reading these files such as Green Building Studio (GBS), DesignBuilder, Integrated Environmental Solutions-Virtual Environment (IES), and OpenStudio. In addition, some of the challenges in the application of BIM for energy simulation such as interoperability issues, lack of standards, and lack of easy solutions for extending existing BIM schemas and available corresponding solutions are also reviewed. With the focus on building envelope in mind, three case studies are discussed to observe the challenges and issues with respect to BBIP using Revit, GBS, and OpenStudio. Moreover, these case studies provide an opportunity to investigate the application of corrective middleware tools similar to what is developed in the study presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-180
Number of pages17
JournalAutomation in Construction
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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