Spawn: Coupling Modelica Buildings Library and EnergyPlus to Enable New Energy System and Control Applications

Michael Wetter, Kyle Benne, Hubertus Tummescheit, Christian Winther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spawn is DOE's next-generation tool chain for whole building energy control simulation. Spawn couples traditional imperative load-based envelope modelling with new equation-based modelling of HVAC and controls. Spawn uses EnergyPlus for the former and the Modelica Buildings Library for the latter. Because it leverages the Modelica Buildings Library, Spawn can evaluate advanced energy systems at the building and district scale, including new architectures and controls for heat pump systems with storage, and the coupling of such systems to electrical distribution networks. Spawn's Modelica integration likewise enables it to simulate realistic control sequences and therefore to bridge energy simulation and control implementation workflows. From EnergyPlus, Spawn inherits efficient envelope simulation and the ability to use existing envelope model authoring tools. This paper describes the architecture and implementation of Spawn, which automatically couples Modelica and EnergyPlus for run-time data exchange. This paper closes with examples that illustrate Spawn's modelling and simulation processes.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)274-292
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Building Performance Simulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-87984


  • building energy simulation
  • co-simulation
  • controls
  • EnergyPlus
  • Modelica
  • modular modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'Spawn: Coupling Modelica Buildings Library and EnergyPlus to Enable New Energy System and Control Applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this