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On the Benefits of Whole-building IAQ, Ventilation, Infiltration, and Energy Analysis Using Co-simulation between CONTAM and EnergyPlus



William Stuart Dols, Chad Milando, Lisa Ng, Steven Emmerich, Jyrteanna Teo


Publicly available tools to perform whole-building simulation of indoor air quality, ventilation, and energy have been available for several decades. Until recently, these tools were developed in isolation of one another. For example, the whole-building contaminant transport and airflow analysis tool, CONTAM, is developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the whole-building energy analysis tool, EnergyPlus, is developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The ability to couple these tools during runtime has been implemented through co-simulation. This enables improved analysis of the interdependent effects of temperature and airflow on contaminant transport and energy use on a whole-building scale using two of the arguably, most capable analysis tools of their kind. This presentation will include the development of a set of coupled reference building models for the purposes of evaluating the potential benefits of using co-simulation between CONTAM and EnergyPlus. A set of Residential Prototype Building Models available from DOE has been modified by NIST and utilized to demonstrate the coupling process, the benefits of this coupling with respect to IAQ and energy analysis, and to evaluate multiple whole-building simulation methods related to infiltration, ventilation and occupant exposure. These methods include an original EnergyPlus prototype model, the original model with NIST-based infiltration correlations, co-simulation between EnergyPlus and CONTAM, as well as stand-alone CONTAM simulations. Potential benefits will be explored related to the ability of co-simulation to address the effects of variations in building typology and ventilation system performance on contaminant transport results while leveraging the capabilities of whole-building energy analysis.
Proceedings Title
IBPC 2021
Conference Dates
August 25-27, 2021
Conference Location
Copenhagen, DK
Conference Title
8th International Building Physics Conference


Building simulation, CONTAM, EnergyPlus, Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation


Dols, W. , Milando, C. , Ng, L. , Emmerich, S. and Teo, J. (2021), On the Benefits of Whole-building IAQ, Ventilation, Infiltration, and Energy Analysis Using Co-simulation between CONTAM and EnergyPlus, IBPC 2021 , Copenhagen, DK, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created September 13, 2021, Updated November 29, 2022