Multi-scale modelling to evaluate building energy consumption at the neighbourhood scale

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 7;12(9):e0183437. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183437. eCollection 2017.


A new methodology is proposed to couple a meteorological model with a building energy use model. The aim of such a coupling is to improve the boundary conditions of both models with no significant increase in computational time. In the present case, the Canopy Interface Model (CIM) is coupled with CitySim. CitySim provides the geometrical characteristics to CIM, which then calculates a high resolution profile of the meteorological variables. These are in turn used by CitySim to calculate the energy flows in an urban district. We have conducted a series of experiments on the EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, to show the effectiveness of the coupling strategy. First, measured data from the campus for the year 2015 are used to force CIM and to evaluate its aptitude to reproduce high resolution vertical profiles. Second, we compare the use of local climatic data and data from a meteorological station located outside the urban area, in an evaluation of energy use. In both experiments, we demonstrate the importance of using in building energy software, meteorological variables that account for the urban microclimate. Furthermore, we also show that some building and urban forms are more sensitive to the local environment.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Meteorology
  • Microclimate
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Software
  • Switzerland

Grant support

The study was supported by a grant from the CTI for the funding of the SCCER Future Energy Efficient Buildings and Districts – FEEB&D (CTI.2014.0119), the EPFL Middle East and the Swiss International School of Dubai for supporting this research. The research presented in this paper has also been supported in part by funds from CCEM (IDEAS4cities project). The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.