Building Energy Simulation – Strategic ApplicationsBuildings 12 February 2013 | 10.00am
We’ve reached a point where building energy simulation is relatively straightforward; sometimes we get challenged by the sheer scale and complexity of large-scale developments, and occasionally by the physics of new materials, but by and large, the simulation process is well understood and well validated. Consequently, we are now looking for ways to use building energy simulation to inform decision making at a more strategic level, either for individual buildings or across precincts and cities. We’ve started developing software applications that are tailored to this set of problems and which are customised to the specific needs of each client.
One of our recent projects was for PG&E Company , who needed a way to determine which building efficiency measures would be most effective in reducing the state’s energy consumption and peak demand and help them progress towards zero net energy, one of their strategic goals. We created a stand-alone application that would work on their own computers; allowing them to select from a wide range of building types and climate zones, and to then use slider bars to adjust the building design. The prediction updates in just a few seconds even though the model is a full annual energy calculation that accounts for all building envelope effects, HVAC performance and control. We may have sacrificed a bit in terms of accuracy, possibly up to 5% compared to a full model, but we’ve gained the ability to make real-time calculations, which is crucially important.
We anticipate opportunities to work across a wide range of scales from individual buildings all the way up to cities and regions. The applications we’re creating can help building owners and portfolio managers find the most effective way to improve building performance, either in terms of dollars, stars or emissions using tools that are more interactive, intuitive, and properly suited to their day-to-day operations and decision making processes.
 The Technical Feasibility of Zero Net Energy Buildings in California