An automated vision-based method for rapid 3D energy performance modeling of existing buildings using thermal and digital imagery Academic Article uri icon


  • Modeling the energy performance of existing buildings enables quick identification and reporting of potential areas for building retrofit. However, current modeling practices of using energy simulation tools do not model the energy performance of buildings at their element level. As a result, potential retrofit candidates caused by construction defects and degradations are not represented. Furthermore, due to manual modeling and calibration processes, their application is often time-consuming. Current application of 2D thermography for building diagnostics is also facing several challenges due to a large number of unordered and non-geo-tagged images. To address these limitations, this paper presents a new computer vision-based method for automated 3D energy performance modeling of existing buildings using thermal and digital imagery captured by a single thermal camera. First, using a new image-based 3D reconstruction pipeline which consists of Graphic Processing Unit (GPU)-based Structure-from-Motion (SfM) and Multi-View Stereo (MVS) algorithms, the geometrical conditions of an existing building is reconstructed in 3D. Next, a 3D thermal point cloud model of the building is generated by using a new 3D thermal modeling algorithm. This algorithm involves a one-time thermal camera calibration, deriving the relative transformation by forming the Epipolar geometry between thermal and digital images, and the MVS algorithm for dense reconstruction. By automatically superimposing the 3D building and thermal point cloud models, 3D spatio-thermal models are formed, which enable the users to visualize, query, and analyze temperatures at the level of 3D points. The underlying algorithms for generating and visualizing the 3D spatio-thermal models and the 3D-registered digital and thermal images are presented in detail. The proposed method is validated for several interior and exterior locations of a typical residential building and an instructional facility. The experimental results show that inexpensive digital and thermal imagery can be converted into ubiquitous reporters of the actual energy performance of existing buildings. The proposed method expedites the modeling process and has the potential to be used as a rapid and robust building diagnostic tool. 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Advanced Engineering Informatics

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Ham, Y., & Golparvar-Fard, M.

citation count

  • 82

complete list of authors

  • Ham, Youngjib||Golparvar-Fard, Mani

publication date

  • August 2013