DesignBuilder SBEM for Ireland 2017
Posted by Andrew Bairstow on 08-Jul-19 01:20 PM
This article has been produced specifically for SBEM 5.5.h / DesignBuilder 6.1. It may be updated a number of times during 2019 so please check for updates.

Please check our approvals page for BER/BRIRL approval status.

The interface for v6.1 / SBEM v5.5.h is a composite of the v2.3 interface and the current UK interfaces. There are some features in the interface for UK purposes which it is understood are not necessary for Ireland. We welcome feedback on unnecessary, incorrect or missing inputs which we aim to deal with in future releases. Known (or assumed known) features include:
    • Shell and Core
    • Modular and Portable
    • Construction and Glazing databases

V6 DesignBuilder is not fundamentally different to v2. It has evolved, using the core principles it started with. The following is not an exhaustive list of the most common changes you will see. There are many new features which you can discover through tutorials, webinars and the online help. Only matters which have changed are listed here:

    1. Block Geometry
Geometry settings are much more flexible than in v2. Generally, these features are for simulation users as SBEM uses fixed definitions of geometry. When you 'Add Building' you will receive a warning that a fixed

        geometry template is set and you should enter internal dimensions for the block. Block Thickness is no longer a block attribute though old models using these geometry should be seamlessly converted to the new geometry.
    2. Multiple SBEM interfaces
DesignBuilder now supports all the currently active versions of SBEM for EPCs (and BERs) for the UK and Ireland. Generally, building regulation calculations can be produced with the same SBEM version as used at the start of the project and these may only be supported in previous versions. DesignBuilder currently supports v5.5.h for Ireland and this will be selected when you chose Dublin as the location:

In Model Options the version of SBEM will be the key to the choice of regions for which the model can be used.

    3. Process Energy
This is a new input and available on the HVAC tab

    4. Photovoltaics
These are now input by drawing at building level. Perimeter defaults to Rectangle. Locate the surface and click, click.

These are now a physical part of the building model and appear in the navigation panel

note that area and orientation/inclination is taken from this geometry and thus greyed out. There are now two options for input format (generic type and peak power). Please see the v4 Update Tutorial for more info.

    5. Unheated spaces and adjacency
    DesignBuilder determines if a construction between two zones has a conditioned or unheated adjacency by checking if the adjacent zone has an HVAC defined in the zone.   
    SBEM v5.5.h has two types of unheated adjacency (Check with SEAI as to the definition and guidance on where each is to be used):
        1. Unconditioned Adjoining Space
        2. UAS that is partially conditioned by adjoining spaces
    It is not currently possible in DesignBuilder to set or automatically determine if a space is partially conditioned and thus DesignBuilder automatically uses the 'Unconditioned Adjoining Space' for all such adjacencies.
Overriding a specific adjacency is achieved by navigating to surface level and making a manual setting:

    Note that this setting is only used in Irish calculations.

    6. MPRN
SBEM v5.5.h has the facility to enter more than one MPRN. Where this is relevant the 12 digit numbers must be separated by commas.

7. District Heating
There is a new parameter 'renewable primary energy conversion factor' in Model Options (which becomes available when the Heat Source/Fuel of an HVAC System is declared as 'District Heating').

8. Building construction date
Note, this replaces the year of construction required previously. Note that it is interpreted that the month and day of month fields are there simply so that SBEMie uses consistent date formatting and that it is acceptable to set both MM and DD to 01

v2 models can be directly loaded into v6. Note that you will have to make some manual changes to the model. The main changes will be to change the Building Type (Sector) and Activities. Neither of these are automatically updated to the new settings.

Model Options
    Project Details
Sector: clicking on the 3 dots opens the Sector Browser, note the old sector name appears as a valid selection but isn't. Reset to the correct one (A1/A2 Retail and Financial/Professional services in the example case below). If you reclick on the 3 dots the old setting will have disappeared from the valid choices.

    Maximum number of storeys: this will default to 1. It is used for working out bridging (perhaps more?)
Activity tab
        For 2017 NEAP all the activity definitions (which are is based on the new building sector types) are changed however your model will import with the old activities and these will need to be manually replaced. Looking at this model:
Set the predominant activity at Building level. Note the sector displayed initially comes from the sector set in model options. The activity displayed will not be from that sector but from the earlier (SBEM v3) activity

When the activity is reset the Sector displayed will be the sector from which the activity has been selected. Note the folder for the old Sector (Retail Warehouses in this case) disappears once the setting is made.

        If you are still familiar with the building (a good zone naming system is helpful here) it may be quicker to replace the activities by resetting the activities in all blocks and zones to that just set at Building Level using Clear to Default. It will then be easier to select the correct replacement for each zone which has a different activity. However, this will mean that you can't check the activity set originally in the model and that might be important to identify the new setting.
If you decide to go ahead with resetting all the activities (note, this only changes the activity/sector, it will not change other data for the zone) use right click menu when hovering over the activity:

This will make it easier to select the new activity for blocks and zones below as the default Sector is also inherited:

If 'clear data to default' is not used you may need to navigate to the correct Sector folder for each new assignment:

        Some zones may not have an obvious replacement activity (for example 'Meeting Room' and 'Common Room/Staff' are no longer available in many sectors). Please check documentation provided by SEAI as to the process required in setting activities.
        Note: SBEM does not check the Activity IDs as part of its error checking. If you have unchanged activities in your model then this will generate errors. These errors may be generated in the Reference or Notional Building rather than the Actual Building as SBEM may have trouble assigning attributes to an activity type it does not recognise.
        Note that each activity type has an associated identification number. The original activity ids used numbers in the range 1-529. The new ids have values over 1000-1358. If you have not been able to locate zones with an incorrect assignment then you could check the SBEM input file assignments:
1. Locate the SBEM folder

2. Locate the file model.inp in that folder

3.         Right click and choose a text editor to open

4. Search for 'ACTIVITY ='

5. Note any Zones with IDs below 1000

6. Locate zone and reset activity

        DesignBuilder v6.1 does not access the SBEM v5.5.h construction and glazing libraries but uses the SBEM v5.6.a library. For New Build the as built U values will need to be sourced externally and input using the simple option. For constructions assigned in DesignBuilder v2.3 (SBEM 3.5.b) the assignments may be incorrect or have values different to those originally assigned because:
        a. The construction record has not been carried through from the 3.5.b database to the 5.6.a database
        b. The value has changed from that set in the original database
        c. The construction record no longer exists in the 5.6.a database
Thus it is wise to review the constructions/glazings used in the model: