DesignBuilder Building Performance Analysis Software

DesignBuilder Support

Solutions to the most common queries!

DesignBuilder provides a powerful interface to the EnergyPlus building analysis tool, which allows users to design and analyse all aspects of a building including energy consumption, daylighting, HVAC, airflow and thermal comfort. Navigating through the interface and translating the occasional error codes could be daunting at times. Here we try to answer most of the common questions relating to the DesignBuilder interface.


  • How can I find out more about the DesignBuilder software and prices?
    Contact Greenplan Consultants to obtain the latest DesignBuilder prices or see our prices online for the most popular packages.

  • Where can I find information regarding technical issues of DesignBuilder?
    For a list of the most common found issues in DesignBuilder, please consult the Knowledgebase page on the DesignBuilder UK website.


  • What is the difference between the a network licence and module seats?
    A network (site) licence is installed on a single computer, usually a server, in an organization and manages the licence seats for each module. The module seats are the number of seats or persons that can use that module simultaneously, each on their own computer.
  • How do I move an existing DesignBuilder licence from an old to a new computer?
    First you need to deactivate your licence from the current computer before you uninstall the software. After you have completed this step, you can install DesignBuilder on the new computer and reactivate the licence.
  • How do I deactivate my licence in version 4?
    Note: Remote licence deactivation is not available for DesignBuilder v.4!

    DesignBuilder v.4 licence deactivation can only be executed from within DesignBuilder’s License Manager dialog (Help->License) by selecting the activation code to be deactivated on the ‘Activation Code’ tab and pressing the ‘Deactivate’ button.

    If the code is not displayed, then the ‘Reset’ button should be used instead. An internet connection is required during the deactivation and activation process.

    Uninstalling DesignBuilder will not automatically deactivate the licence from the machine.

    If you have uninstalled DesignBuilder but need to release the activation code so it can be used on another machine, then you should first reinstall DesignBuilder v.4 on the machine and follow the deactivation process described above.


  • Where can I find help on how to model in DesignBuilder
    The DesignBuilder U.K. website has many online videos and tutorials available showing you how to do most of the things you need for creating models. Please consult the relevant section of the DesignBuilder help manual available from within your DesignBuilder software.
  • What do I need to do SANS 10400-XA rational assessment/design?
    In order to be capable of performing and signing-off SANS 10400-XA assessments, you will require:
    • A copy of the SANS 10400 standard
    • A copy of the SANS 204 standard
    • Attendance of an approved SANS 10400-XA training course
    • Preferably attend a course in using the software package you choose to use.


  • Abnormal Termination error.

    "Abnormal EnergyPlus termination. Please contact DB support"

    This error is usually caused by small calculations errors during the transcription of the model into the EnergyPlus environment. The primary causes for this error include:

    • Holes in the floors which do not line up precisely with the corresponding hole in the ceiling below.
    • Windows that are too close to facade edges and risk exceeding the usable surface area.
    • Component blocks that interfere with each other or building blocks.
  • File Corruption
    Some DesignBuilder users have reported problems with .dsb files becoming corrupted. You may see a message like:

    "Error loading file
    This could be caused by trying to read a file created in a more recent version of the software or because the file is corrupt. If you think the file is corrupt you should be able to find incremental backups in the DesignBuilder Data\Backup folder."

    There are various possible reasons for this:

    • Dropbox (or similar cloud file sharing system) folders, which can lock files for syncing to storage on cloud servers.
      If you try to work on Dropbox or OneDrive folders your data will eventually become corrupted as DesignBuilder tries and fails to save to a locked file. Workaround: Pause syncing whilst opening a DesignBuilder model. This is fixed in Designbuilder Version 5.

    • Removable flash drives (USB data sticks).
      Removing data sticks (flash drives) from the computer while a write operation is still in progress can cause files to be corrupted.

    • Opening or saving the .dsb file over a network.
      This operation is not supported by DesignBuilder and corruption problems are far more likely due to possible network errors so you should always load and save to the local disk drive.

    • Error in file compression.
      This can be checked for by opening the .dsb file in WinZip, WinRAR or other compression/decompression software. If it opens OK then this is not the cause. Problems with compression may be caused by conflicts with other software installed on the system. If this is the cause then you can work with the .skh (uncompressed) format.

    • Bugs in some versions of the software can cause problems opening .dsb files.
      It may be worth trying a later version of the software to see if it can read a corrupt file.

    If, having followed the above advice, you are still unable to open a file you could try sending it to DesignBuilder Support Desk to see if the developers are able to recover it.

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