Karen Kensek and Praveen Sehrawat win ASHRAE Best Paper Award

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Karen Kensek and Praveen Sehrawat win ASHRAE Best Paper Award

October 01, 2014

USC Master of Building Science student Praveen Sehrawat and USC Assistant Professor Karen Kensek have won the prestigious Best Paper Award from the 2014 ASHRAE / IBPSA-USA Building Simulation Conference. The student-faculty pair won the award for their paper titled "Urban Energy Modeling: GIS as an Alternative to BIM." Their paper was selected out of a total of 66 papers that were accepted and presented at the conference in Atlanta, Georgia from September 10-12.


While ASHRAE normally grants separate awards for best overall paper and best student paper, they were so impressed with the work of Sehrawat and Kensek that they combined the awards for “Best Paper”.


In their paper, Sehrawat and Kensek, argue that geographical information system (GIS) data is an effective alternative to BIM for energy modeling at an urban scale. BIM’s emphasis on singular buildings makes it difficult to automate for modeling larger territories. When combined with the analytical capability of simulation tools and GIS’s simplified building massing, GIS “offers the power of BIM on a district scale,” the authors write.


The major advantage of this is the ability to predict energy consumption at multiple urban scales from the block, to districts, to an entire city. The resulting “energy use map” is an effective way to visualize and evaluate energy indicators and use data for urban areas. This tool could help cities assess energy use on a broad scale and help them meet more stringent building code energy performance criteria and voluntary initiatives like the Architecture 2030 Challenge. “Being able to visualize and assess urban scale energy use can also help cities determine effective retrofit strategies for existing buildings,” says Kensek.


Sehrawat and Kensek plan to fully develop this methodology for downtown Los Angeles. But since GIS data and building geometry are available for most large U.S. cities, the method can be adapted to other contexts.


At the conference, Kensek was also a co-author on "Early Design Analysis Using Optimization Techniques in Design/Practice. This paper was written with Master of Building Science alumnus Sukreet Singh. Since graduating from USC, Singh has been working at the Cuningham Group in Denver, Colorado.