Building Energy Optimization Software

Collage of images taken from various BEopt output screens. The top, left image lists building measures and design elements with a base point, current point, and available options for that measure. The top, right image shows a colorful wave spectrum and has no label. In the middle is a 3-D model of a home with an attached chart showing three blocks of color. The bottom, left graph shows spikes along a spectrum with no label. The bottom, right image shows a plotted line graph with source energy savings relative to mortgage and utility costs, a listing of individual measures similar to those shown in the top, left graph, and a segmented vertical bar chart comparing base costs to the model inputted.

BEopt input/output includes multiple modes and level of detail.

To help meet Building America's goal to develop market-ready energy solutions that improve efficiency of new and existing homes, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed the Building Energy Optimization (BEopt) software tool. This one-of-a-kind computer program is designed to identify optimally efficient designs for new and existing homes at the lowest possible cost.

BEopt produces detailed simulation-based analysis and design optimization  based on specific house characteristics, such as size, architecture, occupancy, vintage, location, and utility rates. BEopt can help researchers and energy analysts identify the most cost-effective combinations of efficiency strategies for whole-house energy savings. These savings are calculated relative to a reference building that's either user-defined or an automatically generated Building America Benchmark home. See the House Simulation Protocol report to learn more about the Building America Benchmark home.

Benefits of Building Optimization

Sample BEopt graph displays vertical bar graph with Mortgage and Utility costs in $/year from $0-$2,500 on the vertical axis. The horizontal axis displays energy savings in % from 0-100. There's a curved line representing cash flow with four points along the way - point #1 is at roughly $1,200 per year in cost and at 0% energy savings; point #2 is at roughly 40% energy savings and a little less than $1,000 in annual cost, with about 20% of that cost from added mortgage cost and the remainder from utility bills; point #3 is at about 60% energy savings with a little more than $1,000 in annual cost, half of which is from mortgage costs and half from utility bills; point #4 is at 100% energy savings and about $2,250 in annual cost, all from the increase in mortgage payment.

Conceptual plot of the least cost path for high performance homes.

Building optimization helps to identify designs that minimize total cost of ownership while maximizing energy savings. When building optimization is performed before construction or retrofit begins, the components can be designed concurrently, leading to a more integrated, whole-building approach. Efficiently designed buildings reduce energy use and costs while increasing comfort and quality for the building occupants.

BEopt's sequential search technique provides realistic construction options and design alternatives that represent currently available products and construction techniques. The search optimization technique:

  • Finds minimum-cost building designs at different target energy-savings levels
  • Evaluates discrete building options, reflecting realistic construction options
  • Identifies multiple near-optimal designs along the path, allowing for equivalent solutions based on builder or contractor preference.

Updates on the BEopt Software

Visit the BEopt website to sign up to receive updates about the Building Energy Optimization, or BEopt, software.