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Design of Experiments for Multi-Objective Optimization of Parametric Analysis

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Design of Experiments for Multi-Objective Optimization of Parametric Analysis

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PERKINS+WILL

RESEARCH PAPER

ANALYSIS

1. Abstract

literature, in practice it is difficult to implement. Some of the challenges are that it requires a large

number of runs to adequately explore a design space, it often relies on statistical methods that are

not easily accessible to architectural practitioners, the reporting mechanisms do not suit architectural

design exploration, among others. This paper explores a workflow for parametric energy analysis

that seeks to address the above challenges. The workflow combines design of experiment methods

with parametric energy analysis. It describes a research study undertaken at Perkins+Will using the

workflow.

2. Introduction

Comparisons between different approaches to building performance analysis show that parametric

energy analysis (PEA) leads to more optimal results than traditional building simulation. Traditional

simulation typically simulates a small number of design options and then uses human judgement to

infer the best cause of action. PEA, on the other hand, varies all relevant input factors through

significant ranges and thereby develops large design spaces for exploration. Research shows that this

can lead to dramatically better building performance optimization results.

Naboni et al. (2013) compared traditional simulation to PEA and optimization using a genetic

algorithm. They designed and built a project prototype of a 14m2 test lab made from cross laminated

timber and located at the School of Architecture in Copenhagen (Figure 1). Ten design options were

simulated in EnergyPlus during design, and after construction a calibrated model was analyzed. It

revealed a total energy consumption of 98.6 kWh/m2. A PEA was performed in EnergyPlus with 11

factors and 139,968 individual runs. It was executed on a 256 core cluster and took 30 hours to run.

Using the results modifications were identified that would bring the energy consumption down to

8.5 kWh/m2. Finally jEplus+EA, a genetic algorithm optimization tool for EnergyPlus simulations,

was used with 135 generations and 1350 simulations. It took 3 hours to run and revealed pareto

optimal results similar to the parametric energy analysis (Figure 2).

It is clear that despite the obvious benefit of PEA it has the major shortcoming of requiring long

durations to run, even on high powered computing resources that are unavailable to many

practitioners. Genetic algorithms and other statistical methods can help but they are often times too

obtuse for the architectural practitioners comfort. Moreover, architectural design is not engineering

design. Architects seek to explore ranges of options in the context of design geometry and other

subjective considerations and are not simply seeking the most optimal set of numbers. This requires

better interactive visualization methods than the reporting from typical PEA and statistical tools.

Finally, architectural design problems are invariably multi-objective seeking to optimize performance

factors across several response variables. Many PEA approaches are, however, restricted to single

objective optima.

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optimizations and single discipline multi-objective optimization. Many authors referring to multi-

objective optimization are referring to the single discipline optimization of thermal performance

responses like annual heating load, annual cooling load and HVAC performance (Chlela et al. (2009);

(Magnier & Haghighat, 2010). A multi-disciplinary optimization gives a more holistic understanding

of the building performance factors in relation to overall human experience and requirements and is

as such more desirable. It requires a careful selection of input factors, a weighting of responses used

in the optimization value function and coordination of simulation results from different software

platforms. In this paper the multi-disciplinary study is comprised of daylight performance and

thermal performance.

The paper describes the use of design of experiments (DoE) in conjunction with PEA for the multi-

disciplinary, multi-objective optimization of building performance. The need for DoE arises from

the size of design spaces associated with rigorous multi-objective optimization, sometimes requiring

millions of simulations. The large size is caused by the need for several factors in order to express

the complex multi-objective problem as well as the granularity of the factors needed for the rigorous

exploration of the design spaces. This size of design space is for all practical purposes

computationally infeasible.

The DoE is, as such, seen as a filtering mechanism that allows for drastic reductions in the design

space to be explored, centered around estimated optimal values of the factor inputs. By combining

the DoE method with a full-factorial analysis of a reduced design space, the authors expect to

maintain the rigor of analytical search with the accuracy of parametric analysis using a practical

amount of computational resources.

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In order to distinguish this effort from other similar research, five components of PEA have been

identified as important for meeting the requirements of rigor, accuracy and practicality. First, the

PEA needs to be multi-disciplinary and multi-objective. Building performance analysis problems are

complex and multi-faceted and good solutions need to recognize the multi-dimensionality of the

problem. Second, not all responses are equally important in a multi-objective circumstance. The

PEA must prioritize what are considered more important design goals for a project over other less

important criteria. Third, the PEA must provide interactive visual feedback to the architect. The

output, particularly to an architectural audience, cannot simply be numbers and statistical metrics.

There needs to be a visual exploratory interface that permits the designer to interactively examine

ranges of alternatives in the proposed solution. Fourth, the PEA needs to be computationally

feasible which means it does not extend much beyond a few thousand simulation runs. Finally, the

PEA must retain a link to parametric design geometry. Architects must be able to see the impact of

building performance decisions on the physical geometry of the building design.

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3. Literature Review

Table 1

Disciplinary Responses Visualization of runs Geometry

Dhariwal & Banerjee

Ritter et al.

Sadeghifam et al.

Qian & Lee

Pratt & Bosworth

Sadeghifam et al.

Jabi

Chlela et al.

Magnier & Haghighat

*Perkins+Will

(Dhariwal & Banerjee, 2017) observe that multi-objective optimization methods rely on exhaustive

search which can be computationally intensive. For example to iterate over 20 design variables each

with three parametric levels on an Intel Core i7-2670QM processor could take years. Sensitivity

analysis methods like Global Sensitivity Analysis and Fractional Factorial Designs can help reduce

the number of variables in the design space to those that are significant. Optimization methods are

also more effective with only significant variables present. Genetic Algorithms like NSGA-II are

popular for these optimizations.

They propose the use of surrogate models, specifically response surface models (a form of DoE),

that use a limited number of simulation runs. They note however that these methods require expert

knowledge and this is the main reason for their limited use. Their own method involves creating a

base model for simulation in EnergyPlus, applying Global Sensitivity Analysis to reduce the variable

space, using this reduced variable space for response surface modeling and then running an

optimization Genetic Algorithm on the surrogate model for final optimization. On a case study of a

three story office building in New Delhi they found that the surrogate model approach reduced

simulation time substantially at the cost of incurring up to 10% in prediction error. Although the

authors perform a multi-disciplinary analysis of life cycle cost and energy use intensity, they do not

weight their model and they do not provide interactive visualization for their result. Their study is

also not based on parametric geometric modeling.

Ritter et al. (2015) propose a design space exploration assistance method that utilizes available

information and applies parametric modeling and simulation techniques in the early design stage. It

includes response surface methods for optimizing the design space to support decision making.

They note that current methods have challenges such as relying on existing databases which does

not help with projects that have unique conditions, and the use of generative methods together with

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optimization algorithms which can only return singular optimal solutions. These methods also lack

acceptable interfaces for designers to interact with.

They define design space construction as exploring all possible solutions to the design problem. This

can be time consuming if attempted manually. Parametric methods, while more automated, hinder

interaction between designer and the design. They propose generating a parametric geometric model

in Autodesk Dynamo, defining input parameters to describe the design space, creating a DoE in

Matlab to rapidly calculate the response values based on the input parameters and then output the

results into a parallel coordinates plot for interactive visualization. Their method, however, does not

perform a multi-disciplinary optimization as defined here and also does not weight the relative

importance of responses.

Sadeghifam et al. (2015) observe that altering a single factor, insulation, in hot humid climate did not

have a big effect on building performance. Altering a combination of factors (set point

temperatures, low-e double glazing, the use of VAV systems, adjustable lighting and energy efficient

lamps), on the other hand, combined for a 36% reduction in annual energy consumption. This

motivated their parametric energy analysis of factor combinations on a two story residential building

in Kuala Lumpur. Their process involved developing a Revit Architecture model, running a baseline

energy analysis based on the Revit model, identifying significant factors and their ranges and then

using a DoE to select building envelope materials in order to optimize thermal performance. Their

method was not a multi-disciplinary optimization, did not include interactive visualization or

parametric geometry.

Jabi (2014) suggests that the difficulty with conducting PEA at the early stages of design stems from

lack of appropriate representation formats and lack of design information. He seeks to better

harmonize the outputs of parametric geometric modeling with the input requirements of building

performance analysis. He develops DSOS as a software framework to do this. He describes how

DSOS seeks to integrate parametric geometry with performance analysis engines. It uses a non-

manifold geometric approach where surfaces and edges can be shared by more than two objects

allowing for their overlap in the definition of design spaces. The DSOS process uses Autodesk

Designscript, Open Studio and EnergyPlus scripts and files. It outputs results as color overlays on

parametric geometry. While Jabi performs parametric geometric modeling he does not perform

PEA. He also does not perform multi-disciplinary optimization nor weight his responses.

Qian and Lee (2014) sought to determine energy consumption in small commercial buildings,

studying building envelopes specifically, using mixed level factorial design (another form of DoE).

They used Trace 7000 for simulation and Minitab 1.7 for statistical analysis. They analyzed a small

commercial building at Morgan State University and found a potential saving of 16.6% total energy

consumption. Their study was not multi-objective or weighted, and it did not involve interactive

visualization or parametric geometry.

Pratt and Bosworth (2011)characterize energy efficient building design as wicked, after Rittel and

Webber. This is because the design space at the early stage is constrained, intermittently populated

and information poor. Parametric design solutions like Grasshopper can help alleviate this by

generating a wide range of variation within a defined parameter space. They propose combining

parametric methods with high throughput energy analysis methods.

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They criticize restricted search based optimizations like genetic algorithms because larger datasets

allow for better understanding of variable dependencies, and the set of solutions which may satisfy

all design constraints may fall far from the quantitative optima. They develop sustainParametrics and

exportZones as Ruby plugins for Sketchup to create parametric models. They simulate these models

in EnergyPlus to produce building energy use metrics. Large simulation runs are performed on a 256

Intel cluster of cores. 34398 runs are simulated and an interactive visualization interface, including

parallel coordinate plots, is used to visualize the results. Their study, however, was not multi-

disciplinary, did not weight responses and used a large number of runs.

Chlela et al. acknowledge that parametric studies can help designers choose optimal solutions but

note that such studies can be complicated and time consuming due to a large number of runs. They

propose that DoE can simplify parametric studies by reducing significantly the required number of

experiments or simulations. They analyze a 540m2 three story prototype office building at three

locations in France using factor screening, DoE, metamodeling and testing. The DoE reduces a

177,147 run three factorial design to between 200 and 377 runs. The methods is not multi-

disciplinary or weighted and does not use interactive visualization or parametric geometry.

Magnier & Haghighat argue for the use of multi-objective optimization and propose the use of

evolutionary algorithms. They acknowledge that a shortcoming with genetic algorithms is the need

for thousands of evaluations to reach optimal solutions. They propose using response surface

methods with genetic algorithms to reduce the computational time while maintaining good accuracy.

They first use an ANN generated response surface to simulate the responses for the design space.

They then use a genetic algorithm to perform a search optimization but the responses are not

simulated they are obtained from the response surface. This reduces calculation time drastically.

The optimization took 7 minutes on an intel 1.66 GHz. However the initial training of the ANN

took 3 weeks. The authors estimate that it would have taken 10 years to perform a genetic algorithm

optimization without the response surface method.

It is seen that while many authors acknowledge the importance of PEA they are as well aware that it

is computationally demanding. Many seek to use DoE, in isolation or in combination with other

methods, to reduce the computational burden. This paper has similar motivations. By using DoE as

a filtering mechanism but still running a full factorial PEA of the reduced design space it avoids the

computational burden without necessarily sacrificing accuracy.

According to the US National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) the design of

experiments is a systematic, rigorous approach to engineering problem-solving that uses statistical

methods to derive valid engineering conclusions under the constraint of minimal expenditure of

engineering resources (Croarkin & Tobias, 2017). There are four general problem areas in which

DoE is applied: comparative assessment of experimental outputs, screening for important factors,

modeling solutions and optimization of the problem space. DoE is widely applied to optimization

problems in several fields including building performance analysis.

DoE uses statistical methods to discover the optimum value from a large problem space of values

by methodically sampling the space and then interpolating between sampled values to obtain

estimates of non-sampled values. This estimated problem space can then be optimized, to a high

degree of accuracy, much faster than trying to experiment over the full problem space. The concept

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can be illustrated by a simple example. In this example we use a least squares model for a two factor

experiment (Dunn, 2017). Suppose an experiment wishes to optimize an outcome O. Suppose that

there are two factors affecting this outcome A and B. A has two possible values A1 and A2 while B

has a range from 160 to 200, but can take on values in between. This is a two factor experiment with

two levels and a table of outcomes is shown (Table 2).

Table 2

1 2 -1 -1 52

2 4 +1 -1 74

3 1 -1 +1 62

4 3 +1 +1 80

From this sample of 4 experiments we can estimate any value of the outcome using the equation

= 67 + 10 + 4 . The equation is obtained by noting that the average of all outcomes is (52 +

74 + 62 + 80)/4 = 67, the average effect on factor A, going from 0 to +1, is (18 + 22)/4 = 10 and

the average effect on factor B, going from 0 to +1, is (6 + 10)/4 = 4. With this estimate we can use

software to quickly calculate an optimum value of the outcome, and the corresponding factor levels,

without performing any further experiments.

The general equation for this experiment, including interaction terms, can be written as

= 0 + + +

where xA is the coded value for the factor A, xB is the coded value for factor B, xAxB is the

interaction term and the bi are coefficients to be calculated. We can describe the experiment as

follows:

1 = 0 + + +

2 = 0 + + + + +

3 = 0 + + + + +

4 = 0 + + + + + + +

1 1 1 1 +1 0

2 1 1

= 1 +1

3 1 1 +1 1

4 1 +1 +1 +1

the transpose. This can be solved and optimized using statistical software.

The example can be extended to experiments with several factors and several levels, the statistical

calculations getting progressively more complex. In addition to least squares models there are also

other DoE methods like response surface models, half-factorial and full factorial models. In this

paper, however, it is acknowledged that architects are not statisticians. It is therefore recommended

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that DoE be performed with tools that afford simplified user-interfaces, but with reasonable

defaults, that can still meet the goal of providing estimates for constructing a full factorial PEA

simulation. In the case study presented in the next section JMP (a version of the well-known SAS

statistical software) is introduced as such a tool.

Figure 3

Sprout Space (Figure 3) is a research initiative at Perkins+Will focused around developing a high

performance modular and portable classroom. The prototype is a 1000 sqft. pre-engineered and pre-

built design aimed in part at solving the problems of poor daylighting experienced in portable

classrooms. It was used for exploring the DoE based PEA workflow which involved the following

steps (Figure 4):

2. Establish factors and ideal ranges

3. Use DoE to filter the design space

4. Run a full factorial PEA on the reduced design space

5. Use a value function to optimize the responses

6. Use a parallel coordinates plot to visualize the results

The toolkit for this exploration included a custom Grasshopper definition for receiving inputs and

coordinating experimental runs with the simulation platforms; Rhinoceros for visualizing design

geometry; EnergyPlus for thermal simulation; Radiance for daylight simulation; JMP for DoE

analysis and a custom parallel coordinates plot interface for visualizing the high dimensional results

data of the experiment. The Grasshopper definition uses the HoneyBee plugin for thermal

simulation and the LadyBug plugin for daylight simulation (Figure 5). The steps of the workflow are

discussed.

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Figure 4

Figure 5

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Design objectives are developed by a team of stakeholders, designers and decision makers. They

include goals, indicators or responses, metrics and preferences or weights. In Sprout Space the goals

were identified as maximizing daylight while minimizing energy consumption. This make the

problem a multi-disciplinary (daylighting and thermal analysis) as well as multi-objective

optimization.

Table 3

Maximize daylight Daylight Factor % 40%

Minimize energy consumption Energy Use kWh/m2/yr 60%

Based on the defined objectives design variables relevant to the evaluation of these objectives are

identified. Ideal ranges for each of the variables are chosen together with the step-values needed for

a rigorous exploration of the design space. Some of these variables are geometric like the size of the

overhang while others may be performative. Some assumptions and constraints are involved in

choosing these factors and their ranges. Assumptions could be holding a factor constant while

constraints could be building geometry limits dictated by site restrictions. There are 43200

combinations of the factors which is computationally impractical on easily accessible resources.

Table 4

IDEAL NUMBER OF

FACTORS UNITS RANGE OPTIONS

Classroom Offset feet 4 - 20 5

Classroom Orientation degree 0 - 360 12

Front Window Width feet 10 - 30 5

Front Window Height feet 1-4 4

Roof Angle degree 1-9 9

Overhang Depth feet 0-3 4

43200

A DoE is set up in JMP software to help reduce the size of the design space. The DoE is set up with

reasonable defaults to report estimated optimum values for each of the factors. A realistic reduced

design space will then be constructed centered around these estimates. The full factorial PEA will

then be run on this reduced space.

3.1

Input factors and step values into a DoE Custom Design in JMP. Define a response called Value

Function which will hold the sum of weighted response factors.

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Figure 6

3.2

Define reasonable interaction and second order terms, and set the DoE to a reasonable number of

runs. Sprout Space used 32.

Figure 7

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3.3

Use JMP to design the experiment. Note that the Value Function is not filled out yet. It will receive

the results from the 32 simulation runs performed in the Grasshopper definition.

Figure 8

3.4

Simulate the 32 DoE in Grasshopper and create a value function from the results to plug into JMP

(See Step 5 for Value Function discussion).

Figure 9

3.5

Run the DoE and obtain contour plots with the estimates of the optimum values of the factors.

These estimates will be used in constructing the full factorial design space.

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Figure 10

Use the DoE results to create realistic ranges for the full factorial PEA with a computationally

feasible number of runs, 1152 in this case.

Table 5

NUMBER OF

FACTORS UNITS IDEAL RANGE TARGET RANGE OPTIONS

Classroom Offset feet 4 - 20 8,12,16,20 4

Classroom Orientation degree 0 - 360 180, 210, 240, 270, 300, 330 6

Front Window Width feet 10 - 30 15, 20, 25, 30 4

Front Window Height feet 1-4 3, 4 2

Roof Angle degree 1-9 1, 3, 6 3

Overhang Depth feet 0-3 2, 3 2

1152

After generating the PEA results create a value function by standardizing the responses, weighting

them according to the preferences indicated when developing the objectives and inverting any

antagonistic objectives. For example, use the negative of the thermal performance value in the value

function because this has high value when the response value is low.

Table 6

Total

Thermal Cooling Heating Daylight Standardized - Standardized - Weighted Weighted Inverted Value

Energy Load Load Factor TTE DF - TTE -DF - TTE Function

6500 5000 850 2 -0.07 -0.46 -2.93 -13.88 2.93 5.95

5000 4000 950 1 -0.95 -0.92 -38.19 -27.77 38.19 -14.31

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Use the responses and value function in a parallel coordinates plot of the full factorial PEA (Figure

10). This will enable the architect to explore ranges of options and understand their impact on

individual responses as well as on the value function. The optimized outputs can also be visualized

in the context of the geometric model in Rhinoceros (Figure 11).

Figure 11

Figure 12

6. Conclusion

A workflow for using DoE with PEA has been described. The benefit of PEA for building

performance simulations was indicated and the limitation of a high computational burden

highlighted. A comparative literature review of sources that recognize the merits of DoE was

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presented. However, limitations with many of the approaches was observed. The use of the DoE for

PEA workflow on the Sprout Space case study was also described. The key benefit of the method is

that it drastically reduces the time and resources needed for analysis. The method also allows for

multi-disciplinary, multi-objective optimization taking into account the weighting of responses in

constructing a value function. A tool, parallel coordinates plot, for visualizing high dimensional data

is prescribed. The workflow remains integrated with the parametric geometric model which can be

visualized in Rhinoceros software.

7. References

Chlela, F., Husaunndee, A., Inard, C., & Reiderer, P. (2009). A New Methodology for the Design of Low

Energy Buildings. Energy and Buildings, 41(9), 982-990.

Croarkin, C., & Tobias, P. (2017, March 7). Engineering Statistics Handbook. Retrieved from

NIST/SEMATECH e-Handbook of Statistical Methods:

http://www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/index.htm

Dhariwal, J., & Banerjee, R. (2017). An approach for building design optimization using design of

experiments. Building Simulation, 10(3), 323-336.

Dunn, K. (2017, March 7). Process Improvement Using Data. Retrieved from https://learnche.org/pid/

Jabi, W. (2014). Parametric spatial models for energy analysis in the early design stages. Proceedings of the

Symposium on Simulation for Architecture & Urban Design (p. 16). Society for Computer Simulation

International.

Magnier, L., & Haghighat, F. (2010). Multiobjective optimization of building design using TRNSYS

simulations, genetic algorithms and Artificial Neural Network. Building and Environment, 45(3), 739-

746.

Naboni, E., Maccarini, A., Korolija, I., & Zhang, Y. (2013). Comparison of conventional, parametric and

evolutionary optimization approaches for the architectural design of nearly zero energy buildings.

Building Simulation.

Pratt, K., & Bosworth, D. (2011). A Method for the Design and Analysis of Parametric Building Energy

Models. 12th Conference of the International Building Performance Simulation Association, (pp. 2499 - 2506).

Sidney.

Qian, X., & Seong, L. (2014). The Design and Analysis of Energy Efficient Building Envelopes for the

Commercial Buildings by Mixed-level Factorial Design and Statistical Methods. Middle Atlantic Section

Proceedings. American Society for Engineering Education.

Ritter, F., Geyer, P., & Bormann, A. (2015). Simulation-based decision-making in Early Design Stages. 32nd

CIB W78 Conference, (pp. 27-29). Eindhoven.

Sadeghifam, A., Zahraee, S., Meynagh, M., & Kiani, I. (2015). Combined use of design of experiments and

dynamic building simulation in assessment of energy efficiency in tropical residential buildings. Energy

and Buildings, 86, 525-533.

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