Model Types

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Different model types can be useful at different stages of a project, and depending on the analysis use case. This page provides an overview of several model types. The Learn by Design Task section provides further guidance on when and how to apply them.

Prototype models

Prototype models are valuable for providing a quick understanding of typical performance and for establishing benchmarks. Models of prototype buildings are available for some simulation programs, and they typically represent different building types and vintages.

Example Prototype Models—High-rise Apartment, Restaurant and Secondary School

Simple box models

Simple box models are a type of whole building energy model used to inform early design. A simplified model is used to test the impact of fundamental design decisions on energy consumption and peak heating and cooling loads. The appropriate level of detail in the model depends on the state of the design. During pre-design, the model may look like a simple box. During conceptual design, the model will typically represent a simplified version of one or more design concepts.

Example Simple Box Models—Pre-design (left) and Conceptual Design Massing (right)

Shoebox models

Shoebox models represent an isolated portion of a building, such as a single representative zone. They can be useful at any stage of design to inform specific design decisions.

Example Shoebox Models—Fenestration Analysis for a Typical Space

Detailed models

Detailed models represent later stages of design. They are often used for refining or optimizing specific design strategies.

Compliance models

Compliance models are another type of detailed model. While they may be used to analyze the design, compliance models are usually used to document the design performance for code compliance and/or above-code programs.

Example Compliance Models—comparing proposed design to a baseline
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