VBD - Villes et Bâtiments Durables

Methods for exploiting useful resources of a bioclimatic building in its built environment – MERUBBI

A new bioclimatic design platform for optimal integration of a new building in an existing urban block

Energy modelling of the built environment (cities and buildings) reached a crossroads: a low energy building, very sensitive to its environment, can't be designed without taking into account its neighborhood (urban block, local microclimate); urban blocks, districts and cities can't be assessed and renovated without considering the energy balance of each building they're composed of. It all converges towards a common scale for design and modelling: the urban block.

Densifying urban spaces successfully by assessing the mutual impact of new buildings built in an existing urban block

In order to lower the buildings' share in energy consumption in developed countries and their environmental impact, two objectives have been identified: improving building energy performance and densifying urban areas. But these two objectives sometimes turn out to be in conflict: a very efficient building uses a lot of energy resources from its environment, which get less and less accessible when urban density increases in its neighborhood. Thus, there is a real challenge in reconciling a new building's energy performance, and the district's performance after the new building has been built, by taking into account the local climatic context (which is alays different from the meterological data, usually measured far away enough from buildings). <br />Even at this scale, various pieces of software exist to model all these phenomena, and optimization tools are able to deal with design issues. The objective of this project is to assemble all these elements in a research plateform, in order to deal with this building design question with a bioclimatic (maximizing the use of available ressources), economic and regulatory point of view.

The MERUBBI plateform can't be a simple assembly of existing software. Some of them weren't been designed to work with other software: they or their input/ouput files have to be adapted for practical reasons. Moreover, the level of details of each object processed by the platform have to be homogene. Some physical or practical limits (simulation time...) can lead to simplification needs and thus adaptation of existing software/models.
The work will be based on three use cases (3 new buildings to be built in an existing district: detached house, collective housing, office building), to be built in several districts (moderately dense and dense). The real districts are chosen depending on the new building's design and with several climatic contexts. Then, the platform tools will allow to building a 3D scene from the architects plans, identify building parameters, calculate locale micro-climate (shading, local temperature) and perform a dynamic simulation, and also an economic and regulatory analysis. Results of this process will be used to optimize the new building design.

Three real use cases (Paris, Strasbourg, Nantes) have been chosen, with three levels of district density. They are used to test and apply the methodology. The architecture of the buildings to be integrated in the district has been defined during a Master work at the Versailles School of Architecture (ENSAV). Processing of the cadastral plans and topographic data has led to the creation of 3D building and district models. These models are the first exchange format within the project.
An automated workflow has been set-up to go from a 3D model to a detailed building energy simulation. An XML file has been defined to share building and district data, as well as detailed solar radiation values in order to take shading and local micro-climate into account. This file is then parsed to automatically instantiate the Modelica model, ready for simulation. Building regulation calculations is done automatically as well. Economic evaluation of the use cases is done with a specific business software. Design of the MERUBBI simulation platform has been started, by defining input, outputs and functions of each part.
A website has been set up at the beginning of the project. In order to better understand the link of energy use and architectural design, a one-semester Master project has been organized by ENSAV. Energy modelling has to be used upstream in order to help morphological optimization. Students resultats have bee, publicly presented at ENSAV. The consortium's work has also been presented during an IBPSA meeting in May 2015.

A technical solution has been chosen to link 3D building and district models and building energy simulation. The workflow is done with a ««BIM«« (building information modelling««) spirit, allowing to collaborate and share information and data between experts. The necessary data was formatted using usually used tools or formats (SketchUp 3D models, XML exchange files). Integrating the local micro-climate to energy simulation is a step forward local urban energy modelling.
During the May 26 public presentation at the IBPSA meeting, experience of the project partners has been shared with the audience. During the first years of the project, architect students have been able to take energy use better into account during the building design phase.

Results of the project have been presented during several scientific conferences:
* IBPSA (International Building Performance and Simulation Association - May 2015)
* JNES (Journées Nationales de l'Energie Solaire - June 2015)
* ICUC (International Conference on Urban Climatology - July 2015)

The main objective of the MERUBBI project is the development of a methodology for designing new buildings. This methodology must be adapted to the designers’ requirements and takes into account as much as possible the exploitation of the environment’s resources in the design process. An optimal combination of thermal insulation and bioclimatic principles will be searched for, in order to anticipate what future positive energy buildings will be like. The environmental resources which will be considered are solar radiation, sky radiation and outside air. The methodology will take into account the urban context, as the project concerns the integration of a new building into a built area. Its application must allow the evaluation of the impact of existing buildings on the new one, and the evaluation of the new building on existing ones. Based on multi-criteria optimization methods, this methodology accounts for energetic, economic and regulation considerations. Energetic simulations will include the urban micro-climate evaluation and a detailed description of radiative exchanges (in both short and long wave-lengths) between each building and its environment. All these tools will be gathered in a single modeling platform that will be used in the end by a large number of designers (architects, local authorities, developer contractors …). However, the first version of this platform will be a durable and open research tool dedicated to expert users.
The MERUBBI project will contribute to the combination of a couple of current research approaches: one approach coming from building research which states that an accurate energetic evaluation of a building can’t be achieved without an accurate description of the building’s environment; the other approach coming from urban design research which aims at integrating more building physics considerations in their urban energetic models.
The consortium gathers uphill research teams which can adapt or develop all software tools which will be integrated in the platform (EDF R&D, CEA INES, CERMA and CETHIL), architecture schools which can test these developments and evaluate their impact on the design process (ENSAV, ENSAS), an engineering company involved in thermal design of buildings with economic skills (BETEM) and an innovative SME which has already proven its ability to develop accurate, efficient and easy-to-use software tools for building designers (HPC-SA).

Project coordination

Mathieu Schumann (Electricité de France)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


EDF R&D Electricité de France
ENSAV LEAV Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture de Versailles
ENSAS UMR AMUP ENSAS-INSA Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture de Strasbourg
INSA de Lyon - CETHIL Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon - Centre de Thermique de l'INSA de Lyon
CEA/INES Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives/INES

Help of the ANR 905,658 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2014 - 42 Months

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