Model-Based Building Performance Analysis

Autodesk_RapidModelingThe Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) recently invited speakers from PG&E, Autodesk and First Fuel among others to address continuous learners on the topic of software analytics tools that attempt to remotely assess whole-building energy performance.  This session was captured and is available with slides and audio here.  Based on this information, plus additional research, I’ve compiled a series of blog posts to explore how the various categories of whole-building energy performance analysis tools are being deployed today and how the categories might evolve to fill out the energy professionals’ toolkit. This is the first in that series of four.

Building information modeling(BIM) and advanced simulation approaches like those possible with Autodesk’s Revit are being used for energy assessments and audits, as well as to drive deeper energy retrofits.  Autodesk’s Aniruddha Deodhar explained that energy conservation measures recommended by this modeling approach extend into design changes like daylight controls, insulation, window upgrades etc.  Such fundamental design changes in the building offer the potential of greater energy savings, than operational (adjust setpoints) or behavioral (encourage occupants to turn off lights when not used, e.g.) ECMs alone. Autodesk’s Rapid Energy Modeling method uses capture options like satellite and aerial images, photos, drawings, laser measuring, plus basic building data gleaned directly from Revit building information models.

Autodesk has been working on ease-of-use of its sophisticated modeling software that evolved to meet the 3D CAD needs of architects, structural engineers, MEP engineers, designers and contractors. In the case of Rapid Energy Modeling, Autodesk’s Deodhar explained that the toolset was designed to be simple enough for a high-school student to use, which is key due to the scarcity of graduated energy engineering talent. He pointed out that the models incorporate the findings of energy savings sensitivity studies for 12 common building types. Already Rapid Energy Modeling has been used for superfast daylighting analysis for LEED and CFD (fluid dynamics) simulations for HVAC designs.

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