Machine Learning Surrogate of Physics-Based Building-Stock Simulator for End-Use Load Forecasting: Article No. 113395

Sujal Bhavsar, Ranga Pitchumani, Matthew Reynolds, Noel Merket, Janet Reyna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Building energy models are used to simulate heat and mass transfer and estimate end-use load in buildings. With the proliferation of solar photovoltaics on residential and commercial buildings, increasingly, buildings are expected to provide grid services, for which accurate and computationally efficient building energy simulations and end-use load prediction are imperative. Existing building energy simulation tools, however, have significant computational overhead that make them less practical in real-time deployment for optimization, design, uncertainty quantification and control in building energy management systems. This article presents a data-driven machine learning model based on light gradient boosting method (LightGBM) as a surrogate for a physics-based simulator for residential buildings to predict end-use load. The machine learning based surrogate model accounts for time-series related variables, seasonality and trend component of end-use load, and history of end-use load. The accuracy of the surrogate model is assessed on the prediction of the load profiles of 100 different houses in Cook County, Illinois, USA. The LightGBM surrogate model is shown to reduce the root-mean-squared error by 53% relative to a reference decision tree (DT) based model reported previously in the literature. Moreover, the model predicts the load spikes and high-ramp rate events throughout the year which are often the Achilles heel of other models in the literature. The machine learning based surrogate model is demonstrated to be computationally efficient, with a ten-fold reduction in the computational time compared to a physics-based building energy simulation, and suitable for uncertainty analysis and real-time control of building characteristics in response to uncertainty.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2C00-83365


  • building energy modeling
  • load forecasting
  • machine learning
  • real-time control
  • uncertainty quantification


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