Energy Modeling Makes Its Move Into the Mainstream

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 ASHRAE, IBPSA-USA, the U.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.”

Here is a video of a BEM Innovation Summit discussion about how the industry can grow:



The road, however, is anything but smooth. Between energy efficiency opportunities being left on the table and a “box check” attitude by building owners uneducated about the value of energy modeling, much of the discussion focused on how to combat the poor impression energy modeling currently holds in the market place.

“Energy modeling needs to be part of the design process, so that it’s iterative,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of IMT. “The energy model doesn’t just happen once the design has been completed. It’s an important tool in optimizing the design for energy efficiency and comfort.”