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Why You Should Use Energy Modeling Tools in Your High Performance Building

May 13, 2014

In today’s cost-sensitive market, building and facility managers are proactively seeking solutions to help control costs while improving building efficiency. They all want to know, “How do I get more for less?”

I aimed to answer this question in my presentation at the National Facilities Management & Technology conference in Baltimore. In my presentation I spoke to how energy modeling tools can drive the creation of high performance buildings.

Why Modeling Gets More for Less

High performance buildings contribute measurable, year-over-year benefits for building owners. This is based on a building’s purpose, business metrics and the responsible use of resources, including energy, water, air and human capital.

For example, a U.S. Department of Energy study of 643 new and existing commercial buildings found an average of 15 energy-related deficiencies. Fixing those items reduced energy expenses by 16 percent — with the improvements paying for themselves within two years.

So why should a building manager apply energy modeling tools, methods and practices?  Energy modeling allows you to look at many options while taking various interactions into account. Additionally, modeling gives building managers the flexibility to try strategies without installing anything — effectively creating an environment that allows for failure without hurting the bottom line. Lastly, modeling allows you to project future cost or efficiency savings and determine the economic feasibility of its implementation prior to doing so.

How to Apply Energy Modeling

To realize such benefits, you may wonder where to start. There are multiple strategies that one may choose to model. Some examples include ventilation reset, dedicated outdoor air systems, demand control ventilation, double-bundle heat recovery, air-to-energy recovery and many more.

For those considering the use of energy modeling, I presented a few mission-critical keys to success that building managers should follow when implementing such practices:

  1. Start by understanding your mission, purpose and objectives of your organization and its buildings, and then use modeling to show how it will achieve that mission and objectives.
  2. Apply it. When modeling tools are used for the initial design and/or evaluation of a high performance building, you can more easily troubleshoot, fine-tune and validate expected performance.
  3. That’s why you should invest the effort to have a well-tuned energy model.One easy way to do so is by seeking out experts who have modeling skills, or to seek out those in your business who may already have this expertise.

A Case Study

At Trane, we used energy modeling to great success at one of our manufacturing facilities in Texas. To trim energy and operating costs, improve reliability, add asset value and adjust our systems to reduced production volume, we conducted a comprehensive energy analysis. This analysis resulted in various energy-conservation methods, including:

  • An upgrade to the building automation system;
  • A retrofit of the lighting systems and fixtures;
  • Improvements to the HVAC system including the boiler and air compressors; and
  • Improvements to operations, maintenance and scheduling.

Give Energy Modeling a Try

By following the above guidance, you will get more from your building’s performance in 2014 with less effort and less costs. Learn how TRANE can improve your high performance building by exploring our website or contacting us today.