BESTEST Method for Evaluating and Diagnosing Building Energy Software

Ronald Judkoff, J. Neymark

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The increasing power of personal computers has encouraged a proliferation of building energy simulation software packages. The prospective user has no way to quantitatively judge the appropriateness of a given software package for a given design problem. To address this issue, the Building Energy Simulation Test (BESTEST) procedure was developed for systematically testing whole building energysimulation programs and diagnosing sources of predictive disagreement. The BESTEST procedure takes a 'comparative testing' approach where a program is compared to itself or to other programs. It focuses on testing a software package's ability to model thermal processes associated with the building envelope. Field trials of its approach were conducted with a number of a detailed state-of-the-artprograms by researchers from nations participating in International Energy Agency (IEA) Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Programme Task 12 and Annex 21. The approach consists of a number of carefully specified test case buildings that progress systematically from extremely simple to relatively realistic. The outputs fromj tested programs are evaluated according to diagnostic logic to determinethe algorithms responsible for predictive differences. The procedure has proven very effective at revealing bugs, faulty algorithms, and input errors in a variety of detailed and simplified software for commercial and residential buildings. Since it was first published in 1995, BESTEST has been used and/or adopted by a number of nations, states, certifying bodies, and universities. Recently,BESTEST was augmented to better accommodate simplified software and software for buildings in hot humid climates. Current work conducted in collaboration with IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme Task 22, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Standards Project Committee 140 includes development of test for heating, ventilation, andair-conditioning (HVAC) algorithms. This paper describes the BESTEST procedure, recent additions to the procedure, and results obtained by those who have used it to evaluate software.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages171
StatePublished - 1999
Event1999 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings Proceedings -
Duration: 1 Jan 20071 Jan 2007


Conference1999 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings Proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-550-24849


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