Robert Fassbender's blog

Impact of an Energy-modeler

Posted on: September 3, 2013

I saw this quote on a bumper sticker the other day: "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step" 

It's not a new quote to me but for some reason-perhaps because the weather was nearly 100 degrees (which is rare in Wisconsin)- I had a flashback to a Wednesday morning drive to work at Trane CDS, supporting TRACE 700 (it was a really hot summer)

At the time, I only had a month or so of experience and I remember having anxiety a few mornings on my way to work because I had realized that even though we did not make decisions for our customers, people were making BIG decisions based off of the energy-models that I had supported. I had yet to complete my Trane Graduate Training program, and while I was savvy enough to support TRACE 700, I wasn't fully educated on HVAC.

In fact, driving to work on that particular Wednesday, I was feeling sick to my stomach because I had ended up in some crazy LEED-triangle, where I was talking to a 3rd party LEED consulting team (specifically, their energy-modeler), and the Design Firm in isolated conversations, wherein I assumed a strict privacy policy.

When you talk on the phone a lot (especially when you're waiting for TRACE 700 files to calculate), small-talk happens. Being in the middle of this ongoing LEED triangle, I had become aware of a few things:

The Design firm had a history of bad customer service with a certain manufacturer - Company X - and therefore wouldn't 'spec' Company X. However, the LEED consultant, including the energy-modeler was advising the Design Firm to spec Company X's equipment because it had worked well in past projects (for multiple LEED credits, not just LEED EAp2/EAc1)

eQUEST software registration code?

Posted on: August 6, 2013

Just installed the full version of eQUEST, a free building simulation program and now it wants a registration code? No, you didn't accidentally download spyware. It's likely that you might not have correct permissions in Windows for the default install. You'll get a prompt that looks something like this:

equest Enter your software registration code

Don't bother entering your software registration code! This is indicative of a larger problem that needs a full solution.

To solve this error (takes 5-10 minutes)

  • Uninstall eQUEST
  • Right click the install for eQUEST and "Run as Administrator"
  • When prompted to see who the install is for, select "Just me"
That should solve the problem.
You might ask, "What was the problem?" Well, basically, the default install for eQUEST installs everything into your "public user" directory. Depending on your permissions (often determined by your IT deparment) you may not be able to install to this directory. Selecting "just me" tells eQUEST to install into your specific user directory, which most people have permissions to read/write to.
Installed an eQUEST update and getting this message? Make sure you are installing the update to the same location as you have eQUEST currently installed

Control the weather? Create or Edit weather files!

Posted on: July 29, 2013

With the addition of our new chat functionality, we have received a lot of feedback and learned that many of you want to control the weather.

We figured out how to control the weather - well at least in an energy-model. Per your feedback, we made it easy for you to edit or even create weather files (and do all of this entirely in Microsoft Excel).

Many of you have probably tried editing weather files - and you probably found that it would be easier to control the actual weather.

The folks here put our heads together, and with my ninja-like weather-editing skills, and with a little programming, we created a spreadsheet that makes it simple for you to import weather data, edit it, and then export the changes directly into a file that is immediately readable by TRACE 700 or EnergyPlus (Actually, the file is even readable by DOE2 when converted to BIN - which takes about 5 minutes) 

Click here to control the weather! (...virtually)

Matching Energy models to Utility Bills

Posted on: May 22, 2013

One of the most common complaints a client (or an energy modeler) vocalizes is that the energy model does not match up with the existing utility rates. 

It seems that no matter how much you explain that the % savings stays the same regardless of an exact match on utility bills - the client won't believe you, until he or she sees the utility bills matching with the energy model output.

I've heard this question a lot... That's probably an understatement. As a result, I found that I was able to solve mis-matched models based on a "gut feeling". However, one day I decided to write down my thought process to obtain this "gut feeling" and realized that there was a method I was using, based on seeing thousands of energy-models. (to be specific, this happened after I deduced a Utility bill problem in EnergyPro for someone with whom I had supported - and the funny part is that I have never even opened EnergyPro)

With my nerdy side emerging, I did what most engineers would do: I made a spreadsheet. I noted patterns between the month to month relationships of the energy-model vs. the actual utility bills.

The result I came up with is a 7 step approach to finding what you need to change in your Energy-model to help it match the existing utility bills. Now, it can't solve everything (2012 was an unusually WARM year - and thus can't match up with an energy model built with a standard TMY3 weather file). However, I tried the 7 step approach, and I got my model to match the 2012 utility bills anyway. (every month of gas & electric bills to match +/- 5%)

Energy Modeler Directory

Posted on: March 21, 2013 is happy to announce that we are launching an energy-modeler directory. The best part is that the listings are free.

Fill out the form here 

View the directory of the first 50 companies to sign up!

What does this do for you?

  • Builds your Search Engine Rating in (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex etc.)
  • Helps new energy modelers find alocalfirm
  • List your available services
  • Reach new audiences

We will be launching a demo of the first companies to register soon!

The directory is already showing a good turnout. Thanks to all who have signed up already!

Bonus LEED Points by Simple Math

Posted on: February 2, 2012

LEED Points Logo

Let's cut straight to it:

LEED background information:

LEED energy models have a default requirement that process loads and receptacles are 25% of the baseline building costs. The total cost must be identical in the proposed LEED model.

However, this assumption is based on a standard office building. Thus, if the process loads and receptacles are designed and documented (think spreadsheets, or even a basic description), one can use the actual designed loads. This can yield free leed points, bascially LEED plus a little math gets you 2 valuable LEED points.

....LEED + Math = 2 Points!

Example LEED Case Study:

Let's consider a building that has 31% savings on the proposed building over 90.1-2007 building:

Let's say the Baseline utilities are $100,000 annuallu, of which $25,000 is from misc equipment ($75,000 from everything else). At 31% savings, the Proposed building would be $69,000 annually - of which $25,000 is from misc equipment (since by default, it must equal the baseline)

If instead, someone took the time to do it, and the misc loads were documented and that made the price equal to $15,000 in the baseline model, the revised savings are:


$75,000 (everything else) + $15,000 = $90,000

New Advanced material for eQUEST course

Posted on: November 29, 2011 is proud to announce a new advanced section in the eQUEST online course. While there are more videos in production, we have just released these popular requests (most of them are related to LEED or to help yield more LEED points):

All lessons contain real-world demos in eQUEST. These are best lessons of the course. Thanks for adding them

Ryan P.  - eQUEST user

  • Global parameter example (change LPD quickly in parametric runs)
  • Model a Dedicated Outdoor air unit
  • Model Energy Recovery Devices
  • Daylighting 
  • Custom curves (example using a LEED fan curve)
  • Optimum Start schedules (for LEED)
  • Import custom items (import curves for LEED)
  • Calculate Loads in eQUEST (Try the free tool)

Confessions of an Energy Modeler

Posted on: November 17, 2011

When it comes to energy, I suppose we are all hypocrites at some point. I mean, look at Al Gore flying around in a private jet. Of course, Al Gore isn't exaclty going to come clean on his hypocrisy. But, that's because he wouldn't make millions on his powerpoints movies.

Anyway we here at are dishing out the dirt. Do you have a confession? Please comment!

This is what got us started: here's an interesting forum post we had from a very zealous but graciously honest energy-modeler:

I have to be 100% honest here. I have a very general lust for sports cars but more specifically for older American Muscle cars. If there were an AA group for Energy Engineers who secretly love fast, questionably efficient cars (or better stated, not at all), then I would have to go and come clean. What can I say? In my professional life I eat and breathe building efficiency every working minute. But when I get into a car all I wanna do is go fast and live that visceral experience of accelration and sweet sweet sound of red lining a V8 as the speedometer climbs.

How to get paid by turning the heat up

Posted on: November 28, 2017

If you had done this 4 years ago, you’d be a multi-millionaire.. and you'd be warm.

I was running electric heat in my office to help stay warm. So instead, I turned my desktop into a 200 watt space heater that makes over $2 per day and keeps my office 2 degrees warmer than my space heater. 

All you need is a computer. This can be scaled up in an office. An office could make hundreds or thousands of dollars each night and get free heat.

By now you have probably heard of Bitcoin, even though you may not know what it is. It’s just a new currency (among many others). It’s worth a lot of money. If you need heat, it’s a double bonus. Also, it went up in value by 15x since last year. So, if you were making $2/day last year for 100 days, you’d have least $6000 but as much as $100,000. You can also just take the cash.

You can get setup in about 10 minutes! First, just test it. This is all you need:

  1. A computer with Admin privileges
  2. MinerGate or Nicehash software (Minergate is easier to use)
  3. I'd recommend MinerGate because it works with anything. However, Nicehash pays directly in bitcoin. 
  4. If using Nicehash AMD, here is the direct link to the zip install file.

Most of you will probably use Minergate.

How to Automate Redundant Tasks in TRACE 700

Posted on: February 17, 2017

Video 1 - Highlight Reel

Video 2 - Quick Intro On Macros

Video 3 - How to automate a TRACE 700 model