Energy Modeling is a tool used to analyze building systems for the purpose of improving building energy performance. It can be applied to both existing buildings and new construction. It allows design professionals to consider not only the building design and materials, but external factors such as prevailing weather, paving color and vegetation. When used to explore different building envelope and equipment scenarios, the energy modeling process enables early decisions in the design process, balancing aesthetics with building life cycle costs.
For an existing building, Energy Modeling can provide insight into where money is best spent for the highest improvement of energy efficiency. There are programs that offer incentives to increase efficiencies such as Freddie Mac’s Multifamily Green Advantage. An energy model can identify the building systems that are using the most energy. This provides an opportunity for engineers, architects and owners to collaboratively make design decisions that will benefit the efficiency of the building systems.
Often, in new construction building energy analyses is conducted late in the design. To realize the greatest benefit and insight, an Energy Model should be prepared and reviewed in each step of the design process along with the traditional aspects of building design. Decisions such as orientation, glass properties, and shading depend on climate zone and exposure. The same model can be used during the bidding and construction phase to evaluate “value engineering” proposals and how such changes to design might raise or degrade the performance of the building. Such insights lead to timely decision making that will improve the bottom line construction costs, and ultimately the bottom line operating costs.
When designing buildings that are pursuing a Sustainable building certification, project teams that use Building Information Modeling (BIM) for energy analysis during the design development design phase find best results for choosing appropriate systems. For instance, Revit model can be used to extract U values of every component of the building envelope and the building systems. This information will then be linked to an energy modeling software. Designers use these tools as an integrated whole building energy analysis, giving us a reasonable energy cost projection to guide the design decisions and financial analyses. The design team can now look at over 50 variations of different parameter alternatives in a building design and provide straight forward guidance on which variations will have the most efficient use of energy.
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