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Clever use of simulation in BIM projects: This makes planning fun!

BIM (Building Information Modeling) raises high expectations for time and cost savings and for improved planning reliability. In a joint project by Amstein + Walthert with Vela Solaris and with the financial support of EnergieSchweiz, it was examined how concrete added value can be created in practice. A decisive success factor is the combination of simulation and BIM. The corresponding use case will be made publicly available through Bauen Digital Schweiz.

The demands on buildings are increasing: With consequences for planning

Today’s buildings must meet increasing requirements: They should offer a high level of comfort, convince with modern architecture and at the same time be energy-efficient and profitable to build and operate. For planning, this means that different disciplines must work closely together to ensure high planning quality. For this to succeed, two things are essential:

  • Define targets at an early stage:  From the client’s point of view, the objectives for the overall project must be available as early as possible and translated for the individual disciplines from architecture to building services engineering.
  • Enabling flexible changes to targets: If the requirements of a project change, the relevant information must be made available to the project team immediately and reliably.

This is the only way to ensure that deviations from targets are recognized by the project team and addressed at the lowest possible cost.

Simulation as a success factor for reliable planning

This is exactly where dynamic simulation of energy consumption and the satisfaction of demand by energy systems comes in. In time steps down to a second basis it is simulated how the planned energy system behaves during operation: From the heat stratification in the storage tank to the use of the solar system’s electricity production.

By means of simulation, it becomes clear at the push of a button whether a changed initial situation – caused by new requirements during the project – will lead to a deviation from the target specifications. If, for example, the usable roof area is reduced or the building use is changed, it can be simulated immediately what this means for energy consumption and energy system technology and whether adjustments are necessary. This increases the planning reliability and thus the confidence of the client in the planning.

But what does this mean in connection with BIM? What are the advantages of linking BIM with simulation? And how can processes and tools support this?

Amstein + Walthert and Vela Solaris are taking the next step. In a joint project, supported by EnergieSchweiz, the planning process was expanded in the area of model-based performance optimization and the Polysun simulation tool for process support was optimized.

Model-based performance optimization (MPO): BIM and simulation cleverly linked

The use case “Model-based Performance Optimization – MPO” from Amstein + Walthert combines the specialist areas of building simulation, energy system simulation and building services engineering planning. The main focus here is on enabling planning adjustments at any time and in frequent iterations – consistently across all specialist areas.

The MPO skilfully combines planning with simulation, taking advantage of the benefits of the BIM methodology: planners, simulation and BIM experts and project managers at Amstein + Walthert as well as experts for energy system simulation from Vela Solaris have contributed their knowledge to the MPO. The most efficient workflows and corresponding interfaces between different departments were jointly defined. This was done with the aim of enabling the seamless exchange of simulation results and thus increasing planning reliability. As a result, the MPO automatically links the required information and simulation results, documents changes and makes planning work in the BIM project more transparent. Frequent iterations of the planning and simulation results are now even easier to perform and facilitate efficient work for all project participants. 

The MPO has been successfully tested on projects currently in planning. The project team is convinced of the gained process efficiency and quality.

The Open-BIM-based use case will be published on Digital Switzerland and buildingSMART Switzerland. The MPO method is thus available to all interested parties, can be continuously improved and is easy to use.

Smart processes need smart tools

The simulation software Polysun from Vela Solaris has been successfully used by Amstein + Walthert for years for the simulation of energy systems for buildings and districts. In the joint project described here, Polysun was made BIM-capable and thus ideally supports the MPO process.

Open-BIM interfaces enable a largely automated data exchange. Simulation results are thus available to the project team at the desired location at any time and are transferred to the BIM model of the building services engineering. As a result, only time for planning has to be spent if deviations from the target values occur – the planning time is significantly reduced. Polysun also provides digital support for the evaluation of the achievement of building services engineering targets.

All simulation results remain transparently documented with Polysun BIM and provide added value right through to the operating phase – for simple quality assurance.

Energy system simulation is easy to use

With the new MPO and Polysun BIM from Vela Solaris, it will be much easier for simulation experts and planners to accurately design systems for today’s buildings. Relevant information is exchanged digitally. Tedious data quality checks are no longer necessary.

System support makes deviations from targets immediately transparent and the expertise can be directed to the essential points – for a high level of planning reliability that is convincing. This makes the use of simulation in planning a pleasure!

We would like to thank Amstein + Walthert for the great cooperation and EnergieSchweiz for the project support!

Would you like to learn more about simulation and BIM?

Start your free trial of the new Polysun BIM add-on now!

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf offers its customers convincing energy solutions. The Polysun software is the tool for designing holistic solutions across sector boundaries.

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf is one of the largest municipal utility companies in Germany. Every day they supply around 600,000 people with electricity, gas, water, district heating and offer related services. Both for new buildings and for refurbishments, customers consult Stadtwerke Düsseldorf at an early stage to receive support in the design of the energy system. In doing so, the company focuses on holistic solutions that cover heating, cooling and electricity requirements. “In order to design energy concepts across all sectors, a dynamic view of the entire system is necessary. We therefore looked around for software that would support us in this process and deliver high-quality results. The Polysun software has clearly convinced us”. Before Polysun could be used at Stadtwerke Düsseldorf, an important requirement had to be met: “The integration of a new software into the overall system of Stadtwerke Düsseldorf must meet our high IT security and compatibility requirements. Polysun meets our expectations”.

Today seven project developers use Polysun for the design of energy systems. It was an easy start: “During the introduction phase we were very well supported by Vela Solaris. We were able to clarify questions directly and immediately. In addition, we also benefited from a comprehensive range of training courses on site.  Mr Gremmer now uses Polysun regularly to develop holistic energy concepts for customers: “I am pleased that customers are convinced by our energy solutions and express their confidence in us for the subsequent phases of planning and implementation. Mr Gremmer also sees a further advantage for the use of Polysun in this respect: “By mapping the energy concepts in Polysun, systems are very well documented and considerations during the further planning steps, construction and operation are comprehensible. This enables simple quality assurance”.

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Angela Krainer is new managing director of Vela Solaris

Since January 2020 Angela Krainer has been responsible for sales and marketing at Vela Solaris AG, now she has been appointed as managing director as of July 1, 2020.

Angela has a proven track record in business development within the energy industry and has held management positions in business consulting, at Axpo and most recently as head of sales at the utility company of the city of Zurich, Switzerland (ewz).

Three questions to Angela:

ongratulations on the new position! What do you say?

Thank you very much – I am very much looking forward to continuing working with a top team in my new position! Vela Solaris is active in a dynamic growth market: The digital simulation of renewable energy systems is a prerequisite for the smart planning of buildings and districts. We see a growing demand for our software solutions and services – a trend that will become even stronger, especially in connection with BIM projects.

BIM is a broad field – where do you see the opportunities for Vela Solaris here?

In BIM projects, the focus is on collaborative work in teams and the seamless exchange of project data. The aim is to increase planning quality and save time in executing the necessary working steps. With the Polysun software, frequent planning loops with constantly changing source data are already possible in a simple manner. Now we are taking the next step and are further developing our software and services for an effective use in BIM projects.

In which direction do you want to further develop Vela Solaris?

I would like to strengthen the focus on customer needs across all activities – starting with the further development of the software, services and after-sales processes. Our solutions are used around the globe for a big variety of projects – from complex district solutions to single-family homes. It is important to understand the different needs precisely to be successful.

The basis for success, however, is clearly the extremely high level of commitment of all Vela Solaris employees. We live by trust and mutual appreciation. We are proud that our solutions are enabling a smart energy future. I see it as my responsibility to take good care of the commitment of all employees!

Die Überseeinsel

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

Thanks to its proven competence in the field of system simulation, the planning office PBS Energiesysteme was commissioned to develop the energy concept for the new harbour neighbourhood in Bremen together with Überseeinsel GmbH. This was made possible by the competent use of Polysun software.

The Überseeinsel (“overseas island”) in Bremen, Germany, is one of the largest urban development projects in Europe. A new city district is being created here on 41 hectares of land, with commercial, residential and hotel properties. Überseeinsel GmbH is to implement an energy concept that is as CO2-neutral as possible with electricity-based heating and cooling on part of the Überseeinsel, the former Kellogg production site.  PBS was commissioned to work out the feasibility of the energy system. It was clear early on that the Weser River was to be integrated as a heat source for thermal supply. The project was planned as heating network 4.0, with correspondingly clear targets set by BAFA (German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control) regarding a high share of grid feed-in from renewable sources.

Initial simulations with Polysun led to the conclusion at an early stage of the project that the Weser would not be sufficient to cover the heat demand. In a further step, PBS integrated an ice storage tank into the overall planning and defined an intelligently controlled six-loop network that includes cooling and heating with low and high temperature applications. A combined heat and power plant and a peak load boiler are planned as a reserve for peak load. The complete energy system, including the intelligent control system, was set up and energetically simulated in Polysun: “Polysun offers the greatest possible flexibility for the reliable planning of energy systems for neighbourhoods and to quickly make model adjustments”. Mr Grabowski obtains technical input from the Vela Solaris experts as required: “The exchange is uncomplicated and has always taken me one step further – that’s great!” 

Project cornerstones

Client

Überseeinsel GmbH

Energy system components for simulation

wind energy, PV, ice storage, heat pumps, Weser river heat exchanger, six-loop network, combined heat and power plant

Vela Solaris’s service

Polysun Designer software and expert advice.

Result

Necessary planning adjustments identified at an early stage to ensure energy requirements are met. Feasibility analysis successfully completed.

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Apparthotel in Bern

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

B-Solartec develops and implements an innovative energy concept and combines ice storage and PVT – a worldwide unique lighthouse project.

On the former site of Gebrüder Mueller AG at Murtenstrasse 147 in Berne, an apartment hotel with 220 apartments, commercial premises and 83 rental apartments will be built by August 2021. The project is a lighthouse project that is unique in the world: an ice storage tank in combination with a PVT system on the roof will cover the entire demand for heating energy, hot water and electricity.  In summer, the ice storage unit ensures pleasantly cool room temperatures.  The building is planned without fossil back-up heating. The project came about thanks to Peter Ösch: As the owner of the company Müller AG, he pursued the clear vision of constructing a sustainable and, at the same time, highly efficient energy-operated building on his land.  The company Marti Gesamtleistungen AG was commissioned as general contractor. The overall energy concept with the combination of PVT and ice storage of the company B-Solartec was able to prevail over well-known competitors. “The PVT technology was absolutely convincing from a technical and economic point of view”, says Michael Geissbühler, B-Solartec AG. 

In the further course of the project, energy system simulations were central: The optimal dimensioning of the ice storage tank, the surface area of the PVT system and the design of a two-stage heat pump storage tank in combination with the ice storage tank were simulated, taking into account various temperature scenarios. “One scenario always includes a significant temperature increase over the next 30 years, with doubled cooling load in summer and 30 percent less heating load in winter,” says Michael Geissbühler.  Using the Polysun simulation software, the desired scenarios were quickly calculated, and variant comparisons drawn. “The energy system simulation has led to a significant optimisation of the overall energy system, with around 10% lower investment costs and 10% higher overall system efficiency. The exchange with the Polysun experts was always competent and collaborative, just as one would wish” says Michael Geissbühler.

Project cornerstones

Client

Überseeinsel GmbH

Energy system components for simulation

wind energy, PV, ice storage, heat pumps, Weser river heat exchanger, six-loop network, combined heat and power plant

Vela Solaris’s service

Polysun Designer software and expert advice.

Result

Necessary planning adjustments identified at an early stage to ensure energy requirements are met. Feasibility analysis successfully completed.

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Meier Tobler

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

Polysun has been successfully used in sales at Meier Tobler for years. Yield calculations for energy systems can be carried out quickly with Polysun and enjoy a high level of confidence in the market.

With 1,200 employees and a broad product range, Meier Tobler is one of the largest Swiss companies in the field of building technology. They are active in wholesale, system engineering and customer service. For around 15 years, Meier Tobler has relied on the Polysun software from Vela Solaris to calculate the yield of its innovative energy systems. “We were looking for a software that supports reliable yield calculations in heat generation and enjoys a high level of confidence in the market – that’s why we chose Polysun”. The products and components traded by Meier Tobler are fully stored in the Polysun database – such as solar collectors, heat pumps, combi-storage tanks and oil and gas boilers.

In close cooperation with Vela Solaris’ technical experts, company schematics were created in Polysun which depict complete energy systems prefabricated and tested. This is an important and easy-to-use working tool in sales: “A sales employee learns in just a few minutes how to obtain high-quality yield calculations using Polysun software”.

What Mr Kriesi particularly appreciates about working with Vela Solaris is that he receives excellent advice on both professional and technical issues: “The cooperation with all Vela Solaris employees is sensational. If I have any questions, I get immediate and extremely professional advice.”

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Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Engineering & Architecture – has been teaching and conducting research for over 60 years. In a course of study in building services engineering that is unique in Switzerland, students learn to implement intelligent and environmentally friendly heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical systems, while the mechanical engineering course teaches the basis for developing new technologies. The Polysun software is used to internalise their theoretical knowledge and successfully apply it in practice.

Thomas Nussbaumer teaches the course on renewable energies at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The course is offered bilingually (German and English) and is attended by prospective mechanical and building services engineers. The focus of the course is on solar energy and bioenergy. In addition to the physical basics, the course deals with the question of how different technologies can be used sensibly from an economic and energy point of view. The knowledge acquired is internalised in a playful manner using the Polysun software: “Students simulate simple tasks in Polysun, for example the influence of location and orientation of the PV modules on the solar yield. By actively applying the knowledge, the learning effect is increased.

For an introduction to the simulation of energy systems with Polysun, I can easily integrate experts from Vela Solaris into the lessons. The cooperation has been working well for 10 years now. As the course progresses, the tasks become more demanding. Students of building services engineering learn to develop comprehensible decision-making bases for the implementation of energy systems in buildings. The Polysun software provides the practical relevance here: “The students greatly appreciate the fact that they can directly apply their acquired knowledge with a software that has been tested in practice”. Polysun is thus also used in the course’s final papers. For example, one thesis investigated the influence of the distances between buildings in a neighbourhood on the solar yield of PV on the south façade.

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Technical University of Dresden

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

The Chair of Building Energy Systems and Heat Supply is dedicated to current research questions concerning the energy and heat supply of buildings, neighbourhoods, and communities. The entire taught range of the technologies can be simulated in a practice-oriented manner using Polysun software. This is very well received by the students. 

Karin Rühling teaches the complete range of heating and cooling supply systems at the Technical University of Dresden. Students are particularly interested in system comparisons of system configurations for room heating and hot water heating: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the combination of PV and heat pump compared to solar thermal or PVT?  The use of the Polysun software is ideal for answering such questions. Ms. Rühling particularly appreciates the large selection of simulation-relevant component data: “Polysun includes all standard system components available on the market, from PVT to boilers, in tested and high quality.

Even your own innovative products can be easily stored. This enables a wide range of variant comparisons to be made”. The cooperation with Vela Solaris has been uncomplicated for many years and is characterized by great professional competence. For this reason, she was happy to conduct seminars for planning offices and scientists together with Vela Solaris. “We were able to use the seminars in Dresden and Berlin on the subject of district heating and solar thermal energy to actively exchange ideas with the participants. The very good feedback motivates us to continue this seminar format”.

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Dalarna University

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

For more than 30 years, the Solar Energy Research Center (SERC) at Dalarna University has stood for outstanding research and training in the field of solar technology. With the Polysun software, prospective engineers find easy access to practical questions and enthusiastically explore the possibilities of using renewable energy systems.  

At the renowned Dalarna University of Applied Sciences (Sweden), prospective engineers are trained in the field of building services engineering. The central question here is how solar energy can be used intelligently for the design of electrical and thermal systems. Klaus Lorenz has been teaching for many years. It is important to him to inspire students with enthusiasm for the subject and to impart practical knowledge: “I myself am active in the field of building services engineering halfway through my professional career as an entrepreneur with my own company. The students appreciate the fact that in my courses they can use the knowledge they have acquired directly in practical applications”.

The Polysun software can be used to answer very specific questions, such as the optimum dimensioning of hydraulic systems and storage tank stratification. Mr. Lorenz also uses Polysun in his lessons to encourage critical thinking. For example, prospective PV installers check the scenario to see which PV design is worthwhile at lower funding rates and how electricity and heat generation can be combined in a sensible way. In Dalarna, both face-to-face and remote classes are applied – Polysun supports both forms of teaching: “The students can learn how to use Polysun independently and make very rapid progress. What is also exciting is that the Polysun software enables them to compare their results directly and thus spur each other on to find the best solution”. 

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BayWa r.e.

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

BayWa r.e. is a leading global provider of energy solutions in the field of renewable energies.  In order to successfully handle its PV solutions from sale to order, BayWa r.e. relies on the in-house developed online application Solar-Planit and on the integration of Polysun energy system simulation in the cloud. 

With the Solar-Planit website application from BayWa r.e., installers can plan complete PV systems quickly and easily. Solar-Planit was developed by the team of Mr. Gauggel. The objective was to increase sales success via the digital channel with a user-friendly solution. The Polysun API solution is easily integrated in the cloud: Installers can select the appropriate modules, inverter design and storage and receive high-quality yield and profitability forecasts from Polysun. BayWa r.e.’s is included in the design of the mounting system and the ordering process.

Solar-Planit is continuously developed further by BayWa r.e. in cooperation with Vela Solaris. Mr Gauggel greatly appreciates the cooperation: “The Vela Solaris experts are actively and competently involved in further developments. This is how the best solutions are created in partnership”. Solar-Planit is actively used by installers – a success story for BayWa r.e. The cooperation is now being expanded: Solar-Planit’s energy system design can be exported to Polysun’s desktop application and installers can further develop the planning of energy systems in Polysun – for example for the integration of heating and cooling systems.

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EKZ

Stadtwerke Düsseldorf

utility company of Düsseldorf, Germany

EKZ (one of the largest Swiss utility companies) is conducting pilot projects for solutions in the fields of smart grid, sector coupling, batteries and electromobility. Polysun software is used to simulate innovative, integrated energy systems.

EKZ, one of the largest Swiss utility companies, supplies electricity to around one million people. In order to be prepared for the future, the 6-member EKZ team of technology management is initiating solutions in the areas of smart grid, sector coupling, batteries and electromobility. The Polysun simulation software is an important tool for testing the possibilities of innovative energy systems and intelligently linking decentralised heat and power generation. For pilot projects, energy systems with heat pumps, batteries and PV were set up and energetically simulated in Polysun. Various variants of an intelligent control system were tested in order to maximise own consumption. Mr. Selviaridis is very satisfied with the results:

“What I find unique about Polysun is that electricity and heat generation in the building can be mapped across sectors and simulated as a whole. This enables important insights to be gained into the optimum dimensioning and intelligent control of the system”. Mr Selviaridis also appreciates the fact that Polysun can be used flexibly. “Model Predictive Control (MPC) is a modern, advanced method that uses predictions to optimise the behaviour of a complex system. The Polysun-Python interface has enabled us to implement such modern control in the field of energy systems and to gain valuable insights”. The cooperation with Vela Solaris always runs smoothly: “The team of Vela Solaris always supports me perfectly and straightforwardly”.

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PVSEC 2017 Publication

Two communication libraries were developed that enable the co-simulation of IEC 61499 control applications with Matlab and the solar simulation software Polysun. With these libraries, control applications can be designed directly in an IEC 61499 IDE, without having to be prototyped and then ported over.

>> Download PDF (Poster PVSEC 2017)