Building Energy Modeling

What is Building Energy Modeling?

Energy Modeling, short for Building Energy Modeling (BEM), is a computer simulation of a building used to determine or estimate building energy usage.  BEM is a versatile, multi-purpose tool that is used in new building and retrofit design, code compliance, green certification, qualification for tax credits and utility incentives, and real-time building control.  BEM is also used in large-scale analysis to develop building energy efficiency codes and inform policy decisions.

How does it work?

A virtual building is created in a software package, the building components are entered, and the building is simulated over the duration of the one year using a weather file.

This allows for multiple scenarios to balance the lowest construction cost with the lowest annual energy cost.  The estimated energy cost of using different windows, walls, roofs and HVAC systems can all be quantified.  This is how we decide for example, if adding wall insulation provides a shorter payback than installing a more efficient boiler or vice versa.

Energy modeling is required for LEED certification.

How Building Energy Modeling (BEM) is used?

  • Building Analysis: On prototype models supports the development of energy codes and standards, as well as helps organizations like utilities and local governments plan large scale energy efficiency programs.
  • Building Performance Rating: Can be used to assess the inherence performance of a building while controlling for specific use and operation.  Inherence performance rating is the basis for processes like code compliance, green certifications, and financial incentives.
  • Architectural Design: To design energy efficient buildings, specifically to inform quantitative trade-offs between up-front construction costs and operational energy costs.  In many cases, BEM can reduce both energy costs and up-front construction costs.
  • HVAC Design and Operation: Commercial building HVAC systems can be large and complex, BEM helps mechanical engineers design HVAC systems that meet building thermal loads efficiently.  It also helps design and test control strategies for these systems.

Just some of the benefits of Energy Modeling:

  1. Helps to identify which system is the best fit for your building
  2. Understand the total costs of ownership
  3. Achieve “green building” standards (LEED, ASHRAE, etc…)
  4. Comply with utility and municipality rebate programs.