A simulation-based testing and training environment for building controls
A hybrid simulation environment for controls testing and training is described. A real-time simulation of a building and HVAC system is coupled to a real building control system using a hardware interface. A prototype has been constructed and tested in which the dynamic performance of both the HVAC equipment and the building envelope is simulated using SPARK (Simulation Problem Analysis and Research Kernel). A low cost hardware interface between the simulation and the real control system is implemented using plug-in analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog cards in a personal computer. The design and implementation of the hardware interface in SPARK are described. The development of a variant of this environment that uses a derivative of EnergyPlus to test the implementation of a natural ventilation control strategy in real control hardware is also described. Various applications of the hybrid simulation environment are briefly described, including the development of control algorithms and strategies, control system product testing and the pre-commissioning of building control system installations. The application to the education and training of building operators and HVAC service technicians is discussed in more detail, including the development of a community college curriculum that includes the use of the hybrid simulation environment to teach both control system configuration and HVAC troubleshooting.