Building Energy Modeling

April 4, 2020

Energy modeling can help clients make informed decisions early in the design process.

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What is energy modeling?

Energy Modeling is the process of creating a computer model of a building and running simulations for the various building systems. The process is mainly used to investigate the environmental and economic impacts of a building’s design. The model may include the system feasibility, greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative financial costs, natural resource use, and energy efficiency of the building systems.

Why is energy modeling important?

When you buy a new car, you would expect to know the fuel usage (miles per gallon) of the vehicle. Energy modeling can help provide similar metrics for your building. Creating an energy model allows our engineers and designers to provide energy usage and cost estimations to clients, and it allows our clients to choose systems that balance their economic restrictions with their environmental goals.

How an Energy Model Works

Setup

The three most important factors in developing the energy model are building form, orientation, and the project location. We start with the initial building design and ensure that all the information relevant to the energy model is included. At this stage, we will apply our experience to identify key aspects of the design that will affect the energy model.

Calculations

With the setup complete, we can now start to run simulations. Variables that affect the simulation results can be modified inside of the software to achieve realistic energy usage results. When we are confident that the simulation is accurate, an energy report based on this model will be developed.

Developing the energy model is an iterative process. In fact, it is common to develop several models for a building with different configurations for building orientation, glazing options, system insulation values, and HVAC system types.

Evaluation

We now have enough information to make informed decisions about the building design. The client can consider the different design options and the effects they have on the overall project budget and their long-term energy saving benefits. After all the options have been weighed and the client decides which energy model is best suited for their purpose, the design team will incorporate the changes into the final building design.

Conclusion

For nearly 20 years HTW’s focus has been to deliver innovative and efficient buildings for our clients, including the latest in energy modeling and analysis. As our world evolves and energy requirements and climate change mitigation shifts, our architects and engineers are equipped to guide our clients into the future.