SimBuilding

As the design and operation of buildings becomes more scientifically based, technicians must now understand basic building science concepts. The Concord Consortium and Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) are developing innovative simulation games for teaching building science, integrating them into existing courses and evaluating their educational effectiveness.

With input from an Advisory Board plus industry leaders, game developers, and education experts, we will create SimBuilding, a game engine that will support three types of simulation games: diagnostics games, construction games, and operation games. Each type will map to a cluster of science concepts and practical skills related to real-world jobs. A critical innovation will be the use of advanced multi-scale building simulation methods to generate realistic hygrothermal data, to support the game mechanics, and to produce compelling visualizations (e.g., virtual infrared thermograms). Computer-aided training will be realized using an intelligent tutor to create instant feedback to direct the gameplay based on learners’ states and inputs. Learner data will be automatically logged and analyzed to reveal details of their learning. To meet the diverse needs of online green building education, these games will have both English and Spanish versions and will be flexible enough to be embedded into any online course and customized by an instructor.

Pilot tests will be conducted in four community colleges in New Mexico through SFCC's Center of Excellence for Green Building and Energy Efficiency. Data collected from these tests will be used to assess the degree of success of SimBuilding in education and training. Mature versions of the games will be disseminated for free through our project websites, app stores, and partners' online courses. In addition, high school teachers in New Mexico will be introduced to these games through free summer workshops to catalyze green building education at the grassroots level.

Principal Investigator

Charles Xie

Project Inquiries

qxie@concord.org

Project Partners

Santa Fe Community College

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National Science Foundation (NSF) Logo

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1304485. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

SimBuilding is a 3D simulation game we are developing as part of the SimBuilding project. The game provides a more accessible and fun way to teach building science, providing complementary experiences to hands-on learning. Try it now »


Players walk around in a virtual house, challenged to correctly identify home energy problems in a house using a virtual IR camera.


The virtual IR camera shows false-color infrared images when a player inspects areas of the house. The player must diagnose the causes of problems if the house has been compromised.


SimBuilding is based on three.js, a powerful JavaScript-based graphics library that renders 3D scenes within the browser using WebGL.


In addition to the IR camera, a set of diagnostics tools is also provided, such as a blower-door system used to depressurize a house for identifying infiltration.

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