Urban building energy modeling (UBEM): a systematic review of challenges and opportunities

Dezhou Kong, Ali Cheshmehzangi, Zhiang Zhang, Saeid Pourroostaei Ardakani, Tingyue Gu

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In recent decades, urban energy consumption and carbon emissions have expanded rapidly on a global scale. Building sector, in particular, accounts for approximately 40% of overall energy use. Urban planners and decision-makers have a significant responsibility to achieve sustainable energy and climate objectives. Urban building energy modeling (UBEM) has increased in popularity in recent years as a tool for calculating urban-scale energy use in buildings with limited resources, and that facilitated the formulation of new energy policies. However, published studies of UBEM methodologies and tools lack comprehensive examinations of the potential limitations of research and the prospects of future opportunities. This paper provides a complete conceptual framework for UBEM based on extensive literature reviews and prior researchers’ work. In addition to providing a comprehensive understanding of the various UBEM approaches and tools, future research directions are explored. The results demonstrate that earlier researches did not adequately account for input uncertainty and lacked proper simulation and calibration control for algorithms/models. These challenges not only increased the workload and computational burden of modelers but also diminished the precision of model calculations. In response, this paper provides targeted recommendations for each essential phase of the present UBEM workflow, namely model input, model development, and model calibration, to address these limitations, as well as a comprehensive analysis of future prospects. The main aim of the research is to further UBEM development as a faster, more accurate and multiscale supportive tool and establish a framework for future UBEM methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalEnergy Efficiency
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Bottom-up
  • Energy simulations
  • Systematic review
  • Top-down
  • Urban building energy modeling(UBEM)
  • Urban scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy


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