Who is this for: For Designers, Architects and General Contractors to evaluate lifecycle impact of retrofit decisions. For Building Owners, Facility Managers, Tenants, real estate developers, property managers and financiers to prioritize retrofit investments and evaluate building portfolios. For regulators, municipal and state governments and financiers to streamline Asset Rating.
Takeaway: Rapid Energy Modeling makes energy assessments quick, easy and cost-effective and results in actionable conclusions based on building science, building’s geometry, and local climate conditions.
By: Aniruddha Deodhar - Sustainable Buildings Program Manager
Improving the performance of our existing buildings (approx. 97% of the building stock) is critical to addressing climate change. However, as we all know, buildings are complex. Their environmental performance depends on a number of interrelated factors, such as location, orientation, building geometry and internal systems. Optimizing a building’s performance requires incorporating all those variables into design and operations along with weather data and building science.
Current methods of energy assessments are expensive, laborious, inaccurate and require high technical expertise. In short, these methods are unscalable. ICF International estimated that even if 1,000 dedicated energy auditors worked full-time, 365 days/year throughout the U.S., it would take them over 13 years to do one-day audits of the entire US commercial building stock. Plus, the current auditing and modeling techniques require a level of expertise, sophistication and experience that takes years to build.
What’s worse is that--to avoid that cost and time--owners often do nothing or resort to a quick statistical benchmarking that isn’t grounded in building science or the building’s geometry. This is inaccurate at best and leads to faulty conclusions. (See “Mirror, mirror on the wall: Which is the Healthiest Building of All?”)
The challenge is getting to that sweet spot of minimal information with maximum benefits.
Rapid energy modeling is a streamlined process of moving quickly and with minimal data from existing building conditions, to energy analysis, through a simplified simulation process. While the umbrella term can represent a number of solutions, a typical workflow consists of three steps: capture, model, and analyze. The process starts with photographs, satellite or aerial images, laser survey points and minimal information about the building. Learn more about the workflow, the process and how Autodesk Sustainability Solutions help rapid energy modeling here.
Rapid energy modeling can accelerate the initial steps of an energy assessment process that is used to:
- Screen building portfolios for high potential retrofit candidates. Building owners, property managers, and tenants with large portfolios can estimate the energy consumption and carbon footprint of an entire set of buildings. They can use it to assess factors such as energy costs and carbon emissions across several buildings, and identify outliers as well as buildings with high potential for improvement and ROI.
- Prioritize retrofit investments and energy efficiency measures. Developers, building owners, facility managers, or tenants can compare potential retrofit and renovation options, and drill down into the energy model of existing buildings to make post-analysis recommendations on energy efficiency upgrades.
- Evaluate the lifecycle impact of retrofit decisions. Designers, architects and general contractors can evaluate various design alternatives for intended retrofits and identify solutions that optimize lifecycle impact.
- Streamline asset rating. Municipalities, State governments, financiers, regulators, and real estate brokers will be able to conduct asset rating process in a cost-effective manner.
Findings: The various rapid energy modeling workflows have been given preliminary road tests by Autodesk (see whitepaper here) , its customers, and professional services firms, such as URS-Scott Wilson, a globally integrated design and engineering consultancy, and DPR Construction, a leading general contractor in the United States, who employed this method on their own buildings. In addition, we are in the middle of validating the workflow on 32 of Department of Defense’s own buildings through their Technology Demonstration Award.
Visual Depiction of one of the rapid energy modeling workflows
Tell us what you think: What do you think of this novel approach? How could we streamline the process even further? Would you be interested in piloting this workflow?