Urban building energy modeling (UBEM) tools: A state-of-the-art review of bottom-up physics-based approaches
Regulations corroborate the importance of retrofitting existing building stocks or constructing new energy-efficient districts. There is, thus, a need for modeling tools to evaluate energy scenarios to better manage and design cities, and numerous methodologies and tools have been developed. Among them, Urban Building Energy Modelling (UBEM) tools allow the energy simulation of buildings at large scales. Choosing an appropriate UBEM tool, balancing the level of complexity, accuracy, usability, and computing needs, remains a challenge for users. The review focuses on the main bottom-up physics-based UBEM tools, comparing them from a user-oriented perspective. Five categories are used: (i) the required inputs, (ii) the reported outputs, (iii) the exploited workflow, (iv) the applicability of each tool, and (v) the potential users. Moreover, a critical discussion is proposed, focusing on interests and trends in research and development. The results highlighted major differences between UBEM tools that must be considered to choose the proper one for an application. Barriers of adoption of UBEM tools include the needs of a standardized ontology, a common three-dimensional city model, a standard procedure to collect data, and a standard set of test cases. This feeds into future development of UBEM tools to support cities’ sustainability goals.