An Open-Source Virtual Testbed for a Real Net-Zero Energy Community

Sen Huang, Jing Wang, Yangyang Fu, Wangda Zuo, Kathryn Hinkelman, Raymond M. Kaiser, Dong He, Draguna Vrabie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus Citations


Net-Zero Energy Communities (NZECs) are critical to assuring the sustainability and resilience of modernized power systems. System modeling helps overcome technical challenges in designing and operating NZECs. In this paper, we present an open-source NZEC virtual testbed in Modelica based on a real NZEC in Florida, USA. This testbed consists of two sets of models: (1) higher-fidelity physics-based models that consider the interaction between subsystems of the studied NZEC and capture fast dynamics, and (2) lower-fidelity data-driven models that require fewer resources to establish and/or run. All models are validated against measurements from this real NZEC. In addition, this testbed includes a simulation framework that streamlines the processes for simulation and thus allows the use of developed models to form a virtual testbed. To demonstrate the usage of the virtual testbed, a case study is conducted where a building-to-grid integration control is evaluated via simulation. The evaluation results suggest that the tested control significantly smooths the power draw of the studied community and does not sacrifice thermal comfort to a great extent.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 103255
Number of pages15
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-80960


  • Building-to-Grid Integration
  • Modelica
  • Net-Zero Energy Communities
  • Virtual Testbed


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