DesignBuilder Support Building Performance Analysis Software

Greenplan support policy

  • Licences include remote technical support by Greenplan during office hours, for matters inherent to the software, free of charge.
  • Exclusions: Student personal licences, any project-related modelling assistance. For these, an hourly fee of R 690/h (incl. VAT) applies.
  • How did we do? Tell us about your support experience.


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. See our resources page for a free software trial, system requirements and recommended versions.

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

  • Where can I get the official Agrément SA certificate for DesignBuilder, for council submission?
    Download the certificates for DesignBuilder V. 3, V. 4, V. 5 and V. 6 right here.


  • What is the difference between a network licence and "single-user" packages?
    A network licence (site licence + module seat licences) has the site licence installed on a single server in the organisation, which manages the licence seats for each module. Seats of a module refers to the number of persons that can use that module simultaneously, each on their own computer.
  • How do I move an existing DesignBuilder single-user 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.
  • I am using DesignBuilder v 4.7 for Part XA modelling. I want to upgrade to a newer version. You only sell V. 7 / subscription licences but the latest Agrément certified version is V. 6. Am I now stuck on V. 4 until Version 7 is certified?!
    No. Version 7 licences also activate Version 4.7, Version 5 and Version 6 software - so you can buy a V.7 licence, install V.6 and activate it with the V. 7 licence. When v.7 is certified in future, you can deactivate V. 6, uninstall V. 6 then install V. 7 and activate it. There is no upgrade fee payable since you would already own a V. 7 licence.
  • How do I deactivate my licence in version 4, 5, 6 or 7?
    Note: Remote licence deactivation is not available after DesignBuilder Version 3!

    DesignBuilder V.4/5/6/7 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 the same version of DesignBuilder as previously installed on the machine, then follow the deactivation process described above.

  • How do I set up a site licence (network licence)?
    See our guide here. This includes tips for off-site access.

  • Client machines cannot access site licence. What can I do to fix this?
    A "quick fix" that can often work:
    1. Access server by your chosen method - directly, via remote desktop etc.
    2. Go to licence server admin interface on server.
    3. Go to Status page and click “shutdown” for “designb”. On the next page, choose ISV: designb and click “SHUT DOWN SERVER” to trigger the shutdown.
    4. You will then get an error. Ignore it and carry on.
    5. Restart Window son the server machine.
    6. Wait a couple of minutes, then re-open client DB applications. They should now be able to get licences.

Also see our guide here.


  • 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 rational assessments, you will require:
    • A copy of the SANS 10400-XA standard (latest edition).
    • Attendance of an approved SANS 10400-XA training course (e.g. those given by SP Energy or SAIAT).
    • Agrément SA certified building energy modelling software such as DesignBuilder.
    • Preferably attendance of a course in using the Agrément SA-certified software package of your choice.
    • An MS Excel workbook or similar for post-processing simulation results. We provide an example workbook in our software training course.
    • Library of Part XA reference constructions, schedules etc. for DesignBuilder - you can build your own, receive ours when attending our training course, or purchase it from us separately.
    • Weather data: Note that for SANS 10400-XA Ed. 2, there is no stipulated/Agrément SA-approved weather data set that we can distribute. Weather data for Cape Town and Johannesburg is available within DesignBuilder from IWEC. For elsewhere in SA we have historically used Meteonorm to source our weather data but our Meteonorm software licence prohibits us from distributing this weather data. To source weather data for the other energy zones/locations, we recommend that you plan for: Purchasing a DesignBuilder Climate Analytics subscription from Greenplan; purchasing Meteonorm software or buying data sets from a provider such as White Box Technologies.
    • (possibly required) Professional registration with SACAP or ECSA. If you are not a registered professional, we recommend asking relevant municipalities whether they would accept you as competent or not. You could also enquire with the NRCS' National Building Regulators.

    Note that DesignBuilder Version 6 is certified for SANS 10400 Part XA rational design (Agrément Certificate 2023/648).

  • I want to export from Revit to DesignBuilder V.6/V.7
    See this in-depth tutorial and the programme help page to get started.


  • 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.
  • Calculated natural ventilation - L-U factorisation problems
    Try turning on "infiltration" at building level, at 0.001 ac/h (negligibly small). This may solve the problem, by preventing division-by-zero in the simulation.

  • 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:

    • 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.

    • 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 compression is not the problem. 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.

  • Simulation Manager
    "ERROR: Unable to connect to server"

    If you are trying to run the simulation on the local computer (i.e. the server is your computer), see the solution here. If you are trying to run on a separate simulation server, it is best to contact us for support as there are a number of parameters involved.

    Learning resources

    For additional information on the software, you can also visit the DesignBuilder website. The site offers several free online tutorials, webinars and additional learning resources, explaining the software in more detail. There is also free access to the knowledgebase.

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