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Development and Validation of a Simulation Testbed for the Intelligent Building Agents Laboratory (IBAL) using TRNSYS



Amanda Pertzborn, Ojas Pradhan, Jin Wen, Liang Zhang


This paper documents the development and validation process of a dynamic primary cooling and thermal storage system simulation testbed. The system simulation testbed, sIBAL, is based on the Intelligent Building Agents Laboratory (IBAL) at NIST, which is a research infrastructure and testbed for the development, evaluation, and demonstration of intelligent control algorithms. The sIBAL testbed developed in this project will serve as a virtual twin of the real facility for future control algorithm development. This paper presents details of the methodologies used to develop and validate the simulation testbed, which replicates the dynamic behaviors of the primary cooling and ice storage system in the IBAL facility. The simulation platform was developed in TRNSYS using built-in component models and MATLAB functions to replicate the two water-cooled chillers, a thermal storage tank, pumps, valves and other components for four different operation modes. Experiments on IBAL components were designed and executed to generate experimental data for model development and verification of the simulation platform. An easy-to-use user and data interface were created for deployment and evaluation of advanced building control strategies in the future. The validation efforts of the simulation results were carried out in two phases: 1) independent component simulations for chillers and thermal storage tank, and 2) a combined testbed simulation of the entire hydronic system. Comparison of simulation results to the experimental data obtained from the IBAL facility showed errors within an acceptable range for further intelligent control algorithms development. The findings from the study are summarized and presented along with areas where additional research is needed. In addition, data filtering procedures and model refinement measures utilized to improve the accuracy and accelerate the computation time of the simulation are presented.
Proceedings Title
ASHRAE Transactions
126 Part 2
Conference Dates
June 27-July 1, 2020
Conference Location
Austin, TX, US
Conference Title
2020 ASHRAE Annual Conference


HVAC, validation, simulation


Pertzborn, A. , Pradhan, O. , Wen, J. and Zhang, L. (2020), Development and Validation of a Simulation Testbed for the Intelligent Building Agents Laboratory (IBAL) using TRNSYS, ASHRAE Transactions, Austin, TX, US, [online], (Accessed June 13, 2024)


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Created July 1, 2020, Updated September 28, 2022