Big Ladder Software


We offer in-person public and private (in-house) EnergyPlus training workshops. We have trained scores of new users in the intricacies of EnergyPlus in workshops at US and international locations.

We offer public and private OpenStudio training workshops.

We also offer public and private DesignBuilder training workshops. We are authorized through DesignBuilder Software (UK) as the official training providers for DesignBuilder in the US.

EnergyPlus, OpenStudio, and DesignBuilder Icons

We currently offer the following workshops:

Contact us at for more information, or to request a quote for an in-house workshop.

Further Reading

Who We Are
Training Workshops

Who We Are

We are a team of energy modelers and programmers with many years of experience providing support, training, and software tools for EnergyPlus. We are part of the EnergyPlus Development Team. You can read more about our EnergyPlus work here.


EnergyPlus offers the state of the art in modeling capabilities with unprecedented accuracy and flexibility. Unfortunately, the trade off is that EnergyPlus is complicated engineering software and it’s difficult to learn. That’s why we have created our own unique philosophy for EnergyPlus training:

  1. We teach you EnergyPlus from the ground up. We focus heavily on the syntax, relationships, and architecture of input objects–the building blocks of the text-based EnergyPlus input file. Whether you plan to work with OpenStudio, a commercial user interface, or just a text editor, the more you know about how EnergyPlus works at the text level, the more easily you will be able to unlock the power and flexibility of EnergyPlus. In fact, most user interfaces map very closely to the underlying EnergyPlus input objects. And as many modelers know from experience, the time inevitably comes when you need to move beyond the interface and work directly with the input file.

  2. Hands-on exercises are essential. Most of the real learning happens when you try to use the software yourself. Our workshops are approximately 50% lectures and 50% exercises. The step-by-step exercises begin to build the “muscle memory” that helps you to retain your new skills for long-term use.

  3. Mental models make it easier to learn. EnergyPlus encompasses a vast amount of stuff: input objects, input files, output files, documentation, software tools. Our workshops help you construct mental models to organize all of that information. Mental models provide structures, patterns, and best practices that bring order to the chaos.

  4. We teach you how to teach yourself. At this point EnergyPlus is so large and complex that no one person knows all of EnergyPlus. Even experts don’t keep everything in their head at once. The most important skill we can teach you is how to teach yourself going forward–how to use the available resources to find the information you need after the workshop ends. As the cliche goes, “Teach an energy modeler to fish…”

  5. We are there for you after the workshop ends. Even after completing our workshop, sometimes you still need a little help…or a lot of help. We offer comprehensive EnergyPlus support services so that you can be assured that you will never be stuck for long.

Training Workshops

We currently offer the following workshops:

EnergyPlus for Practitioners

In this two-day workshop we focus on the needs of the energy modeling practitioner in order to get you up to speed and highly productive with EnergyPlus as quickly as possible. We cover the fundamentals of EnergyPlus such as geometry and internal loads while rapidly ramping up to advanced topics such as HVAC systems and controls. We guide you through the complexities of the EnergyPlus syntax, input/output files, documentation, and essential software tools including the Euclid extension for SketchUp. Most importantly, we teach you how to use the available resources to teach yourself going forward. Demonstrations and hands-on exercises are used extensively throughout. By the end of the workshop, you should be comfortable with creating, running, and debugging EnergyPlus models.

We recommend an optional third day for in-house workshops. We customize the third day for your specific needs. Possible topics include:

  • Specific technologies or strategies (e.g., radiant heating and cooling, VRF systems, natural ventilation, etc.) that are anticipated to be critical for your upcoming projects.
  • Software tools and techniques that we use ourselves to work more efficiently with EnergyPlus.
  • Introduction to the full OpenStudio application and how to map EnergyPlus concepts to the OpenStudio interface.

We have developed our training materials from scratch over a period of several years based on our extensive experience using EnergyPlus to model real-world projects and helping others to do the same. This workshop should be a prerequisite for anyone planning to work with EnergyPlus regardless of what user interface you choose.

Upcoming workshops and registration

OpenStudio Launch Pad

This one-day workshop aims to quickly launch you into the world of the OpenStudio graphical user interface for EnergyPlus. We cover the major features and capabilities of the interface including creating and editing geometry using the full OpenStudio extension for SketchUp, managing space types and internal loads, and configuring HVAC systems and controls. (OpenStudio measure writing is not covered.) Demonstrations and hands-on exercises are used extensively throughout.

Previous experience with EnergyPlus is recommended but not required. You are welcome to register for this workshop separately from the OpenStudio Measure Writing Workshop.

Upcoming workshops and registration

Advanced OpenStudio

This one-day workshop covers advanced modeling topics related to the OpenStudio interface. We cover how to add custom library data (HVAC, building types, etc.), model “bulk” air flow (infiltration, ventilation, inter-zone mixing, transfer air), configure layout and controls for advanced plant systems, use best practices for debugging energy models, and include thermal bridging effects in energy models. OpenStudio measure writing is not covered. Demonstrations and hands-on exercises are used extensively throughout.

Previous experience with EnergyPlus is recommended but not required. You are welcome to register for this workshop separately from the EnergyPlus workshop.

Upcoming workshops and registration

OpenStudio Measure Writing

This one-day workshop focuses on teaching you how to write your own measures for OpenStudio’s powerful scripting and automation framework. We cover the essentials of the OpenStudio API, the Ruby programming language, and the OpenStudio Software Development Kit documentation. We explore all three categories of measures: OpenStudio, EnergyPlus, and Reporting. We will also show how to use a measure to automatically generate a baseline building model for ASHRAE Standard 90.1 compliance. Demonstrations and hands-on exercises are used extensively throughout.

Previous Ruby scripting experience is not required. You are welcome to register for this workshop separately from the OpenStudio Launch Pad Workshop.

Upcoming workshops and registration


This five-day modular course is an excellent opportunity to deepen your DesignBuilder knowledge using features of version 5 of the software. The course is suitable for new and experienced users alike and is structured to give you plenty of worked examples so you can “learn by doing”. No experience with EnergyPlus is required.

Upcoming workshops and registration

You can choose to attend any of the five days according to your particular training requirements. Please note that Days 2-5 all require previous experience with the 3-D Modeller or attendance on Day 1.

Day 1 - 3-D Modeller

  1. Introduction to DesignBuilder
  2. Geometric operations
  3. Roof geometry, outline blocks, etc
  4. Import floor plans and zoning
  5. Model data, activities, and zone merging
  6. Constructions, infiltration model data
  7. Openings model data

Day 2 - Basic Simulation

  1. Component blocks (ground and adiabatic)
  2. Templates
  3. Timing - compact schedules, profiles, holidays
  4. Heating and cooling load calculations
  5. Simulation and comparing results
  6. Lighting and daylight control
  7. Simple HVAC

Day 3 - Natural Ventilation, Renewables, and Daylighting

  1. Solar shading
  2. Scheduled natural ventilation and infiltration
  3. Calculated natural ventilation
  4. Mixed mode
  5. PV and wind turbines
  6. Introduction to Radiance daylighting

Day 4 - Introduction to Detailed HVAC

  1. Introduction to detailed HVAC (VRF)
  2. Hot water loops (radiator + natvent)
  3. Results viewer (analysis of EnergyPlus node data in a HVAC context)
  4. Fan coil units with chilled water and air loops

Day 5 - Introduction to CFD

  1. Introduction to external CFD
  2. Internal CFD 1
  3. Internal CFD 2
  4. Linked EnergyPlus to CFD simulation

What’s not covered by the workshop? We do not cover use of the EnergyPlus software, modification of EnergyPlus IDF data, and Compact HVAC. Check out our EnergyPlus for Practitioners workshop for quickly getting up to speed on the fundamentals of the EnergyPlus engine.

A new and exciting feature of version 5 is the ability to automatically generate a baseline building model for ASHRAE Standard 90.1 compliance. We will demonstrate this feature during each of the following workshops that cover topics from the five modular days above:

Introduction to DesignBuilder - Day 1 + Day 2

Advanced DesignBuilder - Day 3 + Day 4

CFD Analysis using DesignBuilder - Day 5

Upcoming workshops and registration


Here’s what attendees are saying about our workshops:

“I’ve been an OpenStudio user for years, but I never really felt confident about what was going on under the hood because I hadn’t learned EnergyPlus first. But after attending Big Ladder’s two-day, hands-on EnergyPlus workshop, I’m able to work much faster and more confidently in OpenStudio than ever before. It has paid off tremendously.”

- Elizabeth Gillmor (Principal at Energetics Consulting Engineers, LLC)

“The EnergyPlus for Practitioners course was an excellent training, lifting the curtain of perceived complexity regarding the software. As an expert eQuest and Trane Trace user the course has given me the confidence to learn EnergyPlus and for the first time seriously consider moving toward the platform altogether. As a business owner, courses like these are invaluable, to be able to hear first-hand from EnergyPlus experts, how to customize a new workflow that will help our firm succeed.”

- Matthew Higgins (Founder and Chief Analyst at Vibrantcy)

“Fantastic workshop! It really gives me more confidence on how and where to dig deeper.”

- Anna Osborne (Building Performance Engineer at Integral Group)

“The design of the workshop was perfect. Start simple and build up to complex. Questions mixed with exercises reinforce the lessons and improve skill levels perfectly. Anyone who wants to learn EnergyPlus would save themselves countless hours of trial and error by attending a Big Ladder training. As a previous training instructor and attendee of training workshops, this Big Ladder EnergyPlus workshop was the most engaging, best designed class where I left with useable skills. Great job Big Ladder!”

- James Sitzman (Energy Efficiency Consultant at IFC International)

“This was certainly one of the best prepared and delivered technical presentations I have ever attended. Thanks for a great job!”

- The Weidt Group

“This workshop has been incredibly valuable to me even as an experienced user. I have been the person mainly responsible for energy modeling at our office. I feel much more confident now in both my own abilities, as well as my capacity to help teach and guide others in our office. The workshop leader, Aaron, was articulate, humble, and helpful. The structure of the class is clear and engaging with many helpful exercises throughout.”

- Damon Woods (Research Assistant at University of Idaho Integrated Design Lab – Boise)

“The workshop is very well organized and the material is presented in an excellent way. I would recommend it to all energy modelers.”

- Alex Vlachokostas (Post-doc Research Associate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)