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How To Develop an Accurate Energy Model


Today’s tip is about how to develop an energy model to be a useful predictor of how the building will use energy.

A prerequisite for LEED certification, energy models amalgamate information about building systems to simulate how much energy the building will use after it is built. Experts suggest that the energy model should be as important to the planning and programming of the building as the architectural drawings themselves.

When preparing an energy model – and there are several different types of software packages out there, some of them like the Department of Energy’s eQuest, are available for free. They take into consideration three main sets of variables – weather and climate; energy and utility; and building components.

Building components then should be considered as “spaces” or “systems.” Spaces include how the building is laid out, as well as materials used for walls, windows, roofs, doors, floors and shades. Systems include HVAC, plumbing, elevators, escalators and site lighting.

Based on all these factors, as well as a number of others that probably won’t occur to you until you’re actually working with the software, the model will spit out a total-building energy use.

One note: The energy model certainly shouldn’t be regarded as a to-the-letter predictor of energy use. Many things will change during the course of the design and construction of the building, as well as in the first year of operations. So, make sure that the model is constantly being updated to reflect any changes.

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