Robert Fassbender's blog

Is insulation the best energy saver?

Posted on: October 11, 2010

Is insulation the end all energy saver? In some climates, this is 100% yes, especially climates that need mostly heating, or climates that need tons of cooling. However, proper insulation selection requires an energy model in many cases. Please note that the purpose of this article is to illustrate the importance of energy-modeling and to get users to think about preconceived notions. (I’m sure I’ll get an email from an insulation manufacturer)

Let’s take a look at a climate such as Dallas, Texas:

Like many climates in the U.S.A., it requires mostly cooling, but requires a decent amount of heating. Many commercial buildings do not require any heating until the outdoor ambient temperature reaches 45 degrees F (due to heat coming in the windows, and heat from lights, people, pc’s etc.).

If the building temperature for cooling is 75 degrees, that means there is a 30 degree range - where insulation actually costs more energy (anytime the outdoor temperature is between 45-75 degrees F). In these cases, heat is actually “trapped” inside the building by the excess insulation (kind of like when you jam your entire extended family in a room on Christmas eve).

Top 10 building simulation company list

Posted on: October 6, 2010

I realized a long time ago that the energy-modeling community is all too often very cynical and often forgets the ideals that started this movement; chiefly, doing the right thing. Too often I find the industry littered with self interested saboteurs and infiltrators. Anyone who has been to a number of ASHRAE meetings will have noted the huge corporate vesting going on, and I understand that's part of what makes the industry successful.

However,  I want to take a moment and give a shout out to a few skilled and positive companies.

Here's a list of 10 of the best software simulation companies whose work I have seen (in no particular order). And no, I don't have stock in any of these companies (except Arup, no, I'm kidding).

Top 5 free ways to energy saving daily

Posted on: October 6, 2010

While this website focuses mostly on commercial buildings, I want to take a moment looking at the bigger theme and discuss my top 5 ways you can easily make an immediate impact on world energy savings. This article has to do with simply changing your behavior, and no worries - there will be no lecture on recycling (I assume you are doing this already, if not for the environment, for the local economy)

  1. Drive properly. Don’t drive like an idiot.
  2. Over-aggressive or Over-passive driving wastes gas in both your car and other drivers. When you make people hit the brakes, they consume additional gas. If you cause a traffic jam, even more. Remember to use your turn signals! That way, other people can make appropriate decisions.

Ice storage Insight for Energy Modelers

Posted on: October 5, 2010

How does ice storage help me save me money, save energy, and earn LEED points?

There are a lot of good reasons. This article focuses on a few of the main red flags telling you to get your butt in gear and get some ice tanks. And, if LEED is important to you, we will talk about how ice storage can yield big LEED points.

But before we talk about ice storage, let’s start with an ice-breaker: What is the number one reason to use ice storage? Now, if you said 'to save energy', you are WRONG. Would it surprise you to know that reducing energy consumption is not the most common reason to use ice storage?. The real reason to use ice storage is that IT SAVES EVEN MORE MONEY THAN IT SAVES IN ELECTRICITY. Example: you can "charge" the tanks at night, and nighttime electrical purchases, which are increasing in renewable energy content, can save you tons of money, and easily earn you additional LEED points. Ice storage often USES LESS SOURCE ENERGY, and thus has a REDUCED CARBON FOOTPRINT..

So, why is it so good for the environment? To answer the question, remember, not all energy is created equal. Ice storage helps optimize the use of utility companies, so even though it costs some energy on the building meter, the utility company itself can operate more efficiently, and operate with less overhead since ice storage uses energy at a time when it is more available. Therefore, they deliver you the energy at a lower cost, and they have less infrastructure (big picture energy savings).

Now, back to the other question: what is a red flag telling you to get your butt in gear and to use ice storage? Let's cover 2 common reasons:

Understanding the Max Z ratio

Posted on: October 1, 2010

A common energy modeling question is: Why did my VAV minimum go up when I added max z ratio in Trace 700? And why is the heating ventilation greater when using std 62?

This is a common issue when running standard 62, as it is a natural consequence of the calculations. I think it is best to walk through an example:

Purpose of Energy-modeling

Posted on: September 21, 2010

If you are an energy-modeler or work with one, you have probably wondered if all this extra work is worth the effort. When doing energy models, it seems like you spend more time and money on the model than it could ever be worth, but it only seems that way. Remember, buildings last a long time and they consume about 30% of the energy used in the United States. In other words, energy models pay dividends.