Realizing Energy Modeling’s True Potential

 A report and links for downloading the full details of BRM’s energy modeling summit. While these efforts to model  building level energy strategies, are encouraging for reducing carbon footprint,  piece by piece, as it were, I feel they are too narrowly focused on the individual building level, the efforts need to broaden to model more of the environmental impacts at local street level as well as including a more integral approach by adding water, cultural, economic and social impacts to become more valuable -from Spark the RMI eNewsletter.

Building energy modeling has enjoyed a steep adoption and market uptake curve over the last decade.

However, the two biggest demand drivers—building owners’ need to comply with regulations and codes, and desire to comply with voluntary programs like LEED and tax and utility incentives—do not always support the objective of widespread low-energy building design and operation.

Rocky Mountain Institute’s new report, “Collaborate and Capitalize: Post-Report from the BEM Innovation Summit,*” takes a first step to outline opportunities to advance the future of energy modeling and increase collaboration in the building energy modeling community.

(Learn more about RMI’s leadership in building energy modeling.)

“What we’re really trying to do is get energy modeling used early,” says Erik Kolderup of Kolderup Consulting. “Performance requirements, asset rating requirements, absolute energy standards…will start getting people thinking about this earlier.”

Learn more    

Download the report
*Note: While the content presented in this report was developed in a collaborative consensus process, it does not imply an endorsement of all statements and proposed solutions by each attendee or partnering organization.

Read all RMI coverage on building energy modeling 

Energy Modeling for High-Performance Buildings via RMI

Rebecca Cole of The Rocky Mountain Institute explains some of the details behind the drive for energy modeling of buildings, I wonder when this will reach to cover entire cites and if the hype is worth the effort in relation to unchanged consumption patterns and desires?

The black box “voodoo” that many consider building energy modeling to be today is being dragged into the spotlight.

New, more aggressive building efficiency standards, codes and disclosure rules such as those implemented in San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C., are already acting as change agents, driving greater focus on the importance of energy modeling as an accurate predictor of true energy use.

The not-so-good? A currently fragmented industry needs to work together to provide leadership, guidance and a clear path for widespread solutions for low-energy buildings with reduced electric demand.

Last month, Rocky Mountain Institute convened more than 50 key stakeholders in Boulder, Colo., to discuss the future of building energy modeling. Hosted in partnership with ASHRAEIBPSA-USA, theU.S. Green Building Council and the Institute for Market Transformation, the two-day Building Energy Modeling Innovation Summit aimed to identify immediately actionable opportunities and facilitate solutions across several broad categories: methods and processes, software tools, education training and certification, market drivers, and support and resources.

“This is a game-changing event that will set the standard for the industry,” said Lynn G. Bellenger, president of ASHRAE. “It will set the stage for where we are going for the next decade.”

Watch attendees of the BEM Innovation Summit discuss how the industry can grow

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Sustainable AIA: 2031–Why Energy Models Don’t Predict Actual Energy Use via AIA

The field of energy modeling in buildings is gaining ground worldwide – as discussed here it currently seems largely to be focused on gaining coveted energy ratings ( LLED, GreenStar, BREAM) to improve marketing for property developers and to gain magazine fame for Architects and Engineers. Here  William J. Worthen, AIA, Director and Resource Architect for Sustainability, discusses these topics . I wonder how long it is going to take for such discussion to surface for entire cities and where the energy /sustainability models (eg Ecological Footprint Analysis)  for entire cites is going, and is the hype about these improvements similar to the hype over energy efficient cars diverting the focus from the real issues of reducing consumption and using less?

” Have you ever been denied a building permit based on your project’s energy performance?

Credit: Elizabeth Charrow

Very likely, the answer is “not yet.” Documenting energy performance metrics to show code compliance with ASHRAE’s 90.1-2010 or California’s Title 24, Part 6-2008 just isn’t something many architects include in their typical scope of work. But meeting code requirements that include performance-based energy requirements–as part of the building code–will force a change in the status quo. Even if you have designed LEED Platinum-certified buildings, to date very few architects really appreciate what MEP engineers and energy modelers do when they walk behind the energy modeling curtain and return after much time and effort with “the number” that determines whether or not the design is in compliance with the applicable energy code.

Climate Camouflage by Jason Oliver Vollen. Image courtesy of CASE/Rensselaer

Why should architects want to change the design process to more substantively incorporate energy models? After all, aren’t architects trained in the fundamentals of building sciences as part of our education and licensure? Personally, I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Building Science, earned as part of an accredited architecture degree. So, why do architects need energy models to validate our ability to design high performance, energy optimized buildings? Because the codes are about to require it.

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