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How Energy Modelling Tools Can Create Efficient High Performance Buildings

March 06, 2014

This month I presented at the Building Operating Management’s National Facilities Management & Technology conference in Baltimore. My presentation focused on energy modelling tools that can drive the creation of high performance buildings.

This blog post provides you with an inside look at the content I covered and briefly explains why it is important to engage in modelling before you make retrofit decisions.

Consider Financial Factors

Many factors influence a building’s operating costs during its life cycle. Modelling tools and methods can predict how changes in design, occupancy, operation and even maintenance result in savings and efficiencies that affect the health of existing building systems.

Every building can be more efficient. The U.S. Green Building Council agrees, and states that high performance buildings are 20 to 30% less costly to operate compared to conventional buildings. That’s why I believe modeling is a must.

In any high performance building, design and operating standards are created, measured and continually validated to deliver established outcomes within specified tolerances. It’s why standards for high performance buildings are mission-centric. Modeling tools can streamline measurement for energy and water consumption, actual-to-design performance, environmental standard compliance, among many other factors like indoor air quality, occupant comfort and safety.

Use Modelling to Predict Results

Modelling predicts how a retrofit will deliver results for high performance building standards.

Through modeling, organizations can determine economic feasibility and project savings for various scenarios and strategies before committing to retrofit changes. Modelling also creates a safe environment to take risks because it considers a project’s changing variables, such as weather and schedules, which could affect a timeline or budget.

To create a well-tuned model that works for your high performance building, you must rely on several factors. It’s essential to include systems within your modeling work that can be high-energy consumption culprits, such as process equipment, lights, air compressors, chillers, chiller accessories and pumps, and air handling units (AHU). Aside from the focus on specific systems, modelling is best executed when the system is assessed monthly rather than annually and when accurate building asset data and utility histories is used and analyzed.

In my presentation, I dive deeper into the advantages of modelling, common strategies used, and how modelling can lead to top control strategy improvements. To give context, I also offered TIAA CREF Headquarters in New York City as a case study of when modelling paid off.

Stay tuned for another post with additional insights from my presentation and questions from attendees.