Energy modeling allows project teams to evaluate the project’s anticipated energy consumption and model alternative energy-saving solutions. We utilize EnergyPro, CBECC-RES & CBECC-COM, Wrightsoft (ACCA Manuals J, D and S), and other software programs for energy analysis and green building program requirements. We work with 2D and 3D files from the project team to determine energy-cost performance goals and weigh the energy design strategies.
VCA Green has multiple in-house Certified Energy Analysts (CEA) to properly manage the energy modeling process. Through enhanced energy modeling, VCA Green has saved clients from $200k to $1.5 million in construction hard costs. What sets us apart from other building energy modeling companies is that we expand our modeling approach beyond theoretical or compliance-based thinking. We consider construction practices, first costs, and the impacts of energy system design in the operations phase.
Several buildings may have favorable energy design scores or they may be built as a zero net energy building, but once in operation, the building’s energy consumption may be higher than what was modeled. Several factors may contribute to this scenario:
- The building envelope was not modeled or designed properly.
- Energy consuming systems may have been overdesigned.
- Change orders in the field may have deviated from energy efficient design intent.
- Occupant behavior greatly impacts operations phase.
Our energy models can be used early in the design phase to assess compliance. A living model that changes with design is very beneficial as we deliver real time results while the project evolves. It’s important to bring on an energy model as early in the design phase as possible. With increasing energy code regulations proliferating across the nation, the Certified Energy Analyst is becoming an integral member of the design team.
In the past, the energy model was quickly assembled utilizing State/Agency approved modeling software. The design of the energy model was reactive to the anticipated design of the project. Basically, energy modeling was a compliance hurdle that the mechanical engineer had to cross to obtain a building permit. City plans examiners would quickly review the energy model without fully understanding how to cross plan check system selection with what was listed in the plan set. Instead, the City Official would rely on the signature of the design professional on the energy calculations and assume design liability has been transferred to the signatory.
As energy regulations proliferate and City plan checkers receive additional technical training to read complicated energy simulation documents, the need for accurate, well-vetted energy modeling is further legitimized.
What’s more, the energy model is a tool that has been greatly underutilized. When an energy model is designed properly, it can be utilized to deliver excellent return on investment. An element within compliance based energy modeling that is often overlooked is the building envelope. When modeled properly, the building exterior can deliver additional bonuses to the energy score; furthermore, establishing proper orientation and shading impacts mechanical and plumbing system heating and cooling loads. Designs may be over engineered because the connection between the building skin and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems is not well connected. An independent third party analysis by an energy modeling engineer often yields beneficial results to the project and to the developer’s budget.