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Energies 2018, 11(10), 2665; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11102665

Exploring the Interplay between CAD and FreeFem++ as an Energy Decision-Making Tool for Architectural Design

1
Department of Building Construction, E.T.S. Arquitectura, Universidad de Sevilla, 41012 Seville, Spain
2
Department of Applied Mathematics, E.T.S. Arquitectura, Universidad de Sevilla, 41012 Seville, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 September 2018 / Revised: 26 September 2018 / Accepted: 3 October 2018 / Published: 7 October 2018
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Abstract

The energy modelling software tools commonly used for architectural purposes do not allow a straightforward real-time implementation within the architectural design programs. In addition, the surrounding exterior spaces of the building, including the inner courtyards, hardly present a specific treatment distinguishing these spaces from the general external temperature in the thermal simulations. This is a clear disadvantage when it comes to streamlining the design process in relation to the whole-building energy optimization. In this context, the present study aims to demonstrate the advantages of the FreeFem++ open source program for performing simulations in architectural environments. These simulations include microclimate tests that describe the interactions between a building architecture and its local exterior. The great potential of this mathematical tool can be realized through its complete system integration within CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software such as SketchUp or AutoCAD. In order to establish the suitability of FreeFem++ for the performance of simulations, the most widely employed energy simulation tools able to consider a proposed architectural geometry in a specific environment are compared. On the basis of this analysis, it can be concluded that FreeFem++ is the only program displaying the best features for the thermal performance simulation of these specific outdoor spaces, excluding the currently unavailable easy interaction with architectural drawing programs. The main contribution of this research is, in fact, the enhancement of FreeFem++ usability by proposing a simple intuitive method for the creation of building geometries and their respective meshing (pre-processing). FreeFem++ is also considered a tool for data analysis (post-processing) able to help engineers and architects with building energy-efficiency-related tasks. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy efficiency; energy modelling software; architectural design tool; outdoor space; courtyard; FreeFem++; Computer-Aided Design (CAD) energy efficiency; energy modelling software; architectural design tool; outdoor space; courtyard; FreeFem++; Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Rojas-Fernández, J.; Galán-Marín, C.; Rivera-Gómez, C.; Fernández-Nieto, E.D. Exploring the Interplay between CAD and FreeFem++ as an Energy Decision-Making Tool for Architectural Design. Energies 2018, 11, 2665.

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