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Open source is the idea that code you use in software must be both accessible and editable, the opposite of what is sometimes called a black box. At Elioth by Egis, we believe that open source is the future of engineering and we now make a large part of our tools accessible to all.
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Too often we hear, “the french RT2012 is incomprehensible” or “with this software I have this value and with this one another“. The difficulty in answering these statements lies in the black box used. If the physics of the building is clear, its application by specific non-open source software is detrimental to its understanding. It is high time to stop!
A first “almost” counter-example is nevertheless the french RT2012. More than a thousand pages to explain how the calculation engine works in detail (if you’re looking for default values in your models, it’s this way). This is obviously a very good first step, the minimum, but let’s be honest, if we had the calculation engine accessible in open source, it would be ideal, we could make internal sensitivity analyses, study particular cases without going through a proprietary interface or tool. Anyone (really) could look at the code and test it.
The advantage of open source is therefore, to be able to combine knowledge and to allow an improvement of methods rather than having the same work carried out in parallel by different actors. It is a process of continuous improvement, transparent and open, left to the users’ choices and sometimes even to their votes. The perfect example is energy+, which saw its use increase tenfold when it was switched to Github, an open source software platform. The other example is Radiance which has seen its code optimised and debugged. Open source is also a vector of innovation since it can bring together different ideas. The opensource is not directly related to a free tool since an opensource software can sometimes be bought (if you are interested, more explanations here).
At a time when the climate emergency requires everyone’s contribution, open source in the world of engineers is a necessary, if not mandatory, process. Following the example of the IPCC, tools and methods must be shared so that improvement comes from everyone. It is almost finally a postulate of the vision of neutrality that we wish to achieve.
For Elioth by Egis, it also means that we do not sell a tool nor the use of a tool but that our added value lies in the expertise around the physics of tools. This is a natural change in our role, knowing that our ultimate goal is to have the greatest impact possible and if the tools allow it, it’s a win-win situation.
The design of district heating and cooling (DHC) networks is crucial to increase the mutualization of energy supply and demand between individual buildings to reduce therefore the energy, environmental and financial cost of the energy systems. To date, there is no simple tool to study the results of this type of network. At Elioth by Egis, we have therefore created DESsim, an open source python framework, for the simulation and optimization of building energy systems connected to a district heating and cooling networks. The developed method is based on the open-source Python library PyPSA and is adapted for the early-design exploration of multiple scenarios and their optimization based on GIS input data. We have already successfully used this method on several projects and competitions at urban scale, including the Bruneseau district.