City Scale Modeling with OpenStudio

Daniel Macumber, Kenny Gruchalla, Nicholas Brunhart-Lupo, Joseph Robertson, Benjamin Polly, Katherine Fleming, Marjorie Schott, Julian Abbot-Whitley, Michael Gleason

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


Assessing the impact of energy efficiency technologies at a district or city scale is of great interest to local governments, real estate developers, utility companies, and policymakers. This paper describes a flexible framework that can be used to create and run district and city scale building energy simulations. The framework is built around the new OpenStudio City Database (CityDB). Building footprints, building height, building type, and other data can be imported from public records or other sources. Missing data can be inferred or assigned from a statistical sampling of other datasets. Once all required data is available, OpenStudio Measures are used to create starting point energy models and to model energy efficiency measures for each building. Together this framework allows a user to pose several scenarios such as “what if 30% of the commercial retail buildings added rooftop solar” or “what if all elementary schools converted to ground source heat pumps” and then visualize the impacts at a district or city scale. This paper focuses on modeling existing building stock using public records. However, the framework is capable of supporting the evaluation of new construction, district systems, and the use of proprietary data sources.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2016
Event2016 ASHRAE/IBPSA-USA Building Simulation Conference: Building Performance Modeling, SimBuild 2016 - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201612 Aug 2016


Conference2016 ASHRAE/IBPSA-USA Building Simulation Conference: Building Performance Modeling, SimBuild 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City

Bibliographical note

Available online only from IBPSA-USA Publications open access portal:

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-68016


  • building energy simulations
  • CityDB
  • OpenStudio
  • OpenStudio City Database


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