Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

CoolVox: Advanced 3D convolutional neural network models for predicting solar radiation on building facades


artificial neural networks, 3D convolutional neural networks, solar radiation simulation, building performance simulation


Data-driven models have become increasingly prominent in the building, architecture, and construction industries. One area ideally suited to exploit this powerful new technology is building performance simulation. Physics-based models have traditionally been used to estimate the energy flow, air movement, and heat balance of buildings. However, physics-based models require many assumptions, significant computational power, and a considerable amount of time to output predictions. Artificial neural networks (ANNs) with prefabricated or simulated data are likely to be a more feasible option for environmental analysis conducted by designers during the early design phase. Because ANNs require fewer inputs and shorter computation times and offer superior performance and potential for data augmentation, they have received increased attention for predicting the surface solar radiation on buildings. Furthermore, ANNs can provide innovative and quick design solutions, enabling designers to receive instantaneous feedback on the effects of a proposed change to a building's design. This research introduces deep learning methods as a means of simulating the annual radiation intensities and exposure level of buildings without the need for physics-based engines. We propose the CoolVox model to demonstrate the feasibility of using 3D convolutional neural networks to predict the surface radiation on building facades. The CoolVox model accurately predicted the radiation intensities of building facades under different boundary conditions and performed better than ARINet (with average mean square errors of 0.01 and 0.036, respectively) in predicting the radiation intensity both with (validation error = 0.0165) and without (validation error = 0.0066) the presence of boundary buildings.