Interoperability is the exchange of information between different computer systems. In relation to energy models, this means the ability to transfer modeling done in one software, to another. Transferring between software helps prevent re-work, enables many unique workflows, and frees the vast amount of data housed in energy models to be used in a wide variety of ways.

Interoperability is a common challenge in the AEC industry as unique software solutions do not always communicate well with each other. Building Information Modeling (BIM) attempts to solve interoperability through various schemas which provide a common language for software to use when sending information back and forth. The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Green Building XML (gbXML) are two common schemas used by an array of BIM and Building Energy Modeling (BEM) software.

cove.tool handles communication into our online modeling platform via the various plug-ins available on the app store. These dedicated tools handle the translation of geometric information into a cove.tool energy model.

With the recent release of the cove.tool Drawing Tool and OpenStudio integration we have new abilities to export energy models into various formats. This provides seamless interoperability into several energy modeling tools, unlocking new workflows to users! Currently, users receive a .osm and a .idf file when exporting from cove.tool. After ensuring the multi-zone model is correct in the Drawing Tool, go to the Baseline Energy page and click the export to OpenStudio button in the top right.

How can a .osm file be used?

.osm is the native file format for OpenStudio and allows users to view, edit, and run a full energy model via the free, opensource OpenStudio Application.

OpenStudio includes functionality to export a gbxml and a sddxml version of the model for further interoperability.

A gbxml file can be imported into many modeling tools including TRACE 3D and IES:VE. A sddxml file is a specific type of gbxml developed for energy code compliance modeling and includes fields for internal loads and mechanical systems. A common use of sddxml is for California Title 24 compliance modeling via CBECC-Com.

How can a .idf file be used?

.idf is the native file format for EnergyPlus and allows users to view, edit and run a full energy model via the free, open-source modeling engine EnergyPlus. The EnergyPlus engine is primarily text-based and geared towards advanced users. There are however several graphical interfaces to utilize EnergyPlus as the engine and can read a .idf for use in modeling. Common applications that can utilize a .idf file for creating an Energy Model are DesignBuilder, EDSL Tas, and TRNSYS; a full list of software utilizing EnergyPlus is hosted by IBPSA US.

We'll be updating this article regularly as cove.tool continues to expand our interoperability features.

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