Many of you ask about trends in energy-modeling, or if energy-modeling is on the rise. For those who ask, you probably already know, and are just looking for confirmation. Yes, Energy-modeling is becoming more and more important for several reasons. You can see these reasons below, but first, let's validate the claim that energy-modeling is on the rise.
Proof of this, is that the latest ASHRAE Journal headlined "Energy-Modeling - Making Good Assumptions", in a very well written article on the topic. (Also, thanks for mentioning energy-models.com/forum!).
When ASHRAE does something, everybody else follows. Sure, we hear a lot about USGBC, GBCI, and LEED, and so on... BUT none of those organizations operate without ASHRAE (since they all cite ASHRAE literature). In actuality, Energy-modeling would not exist as we know it without ASHRAE, (they developed many of the algorithms and continue to do so).
Let's not forget ASHRAE President 2010-2011 (the late Lynn Bellenger - God bless her), had the motto of "Modeling a sustainable world", further indicating the importance of modeling to ASHRAE. (Especially since Lynn was considered perhaps one of the most important presidents of ASHRAE, being the first female president since the organization began 116 years earlier!). In fact, AIA (another huge organization) also jumped on board with their publication of an Energy-modeling design guide earlier this year.
Finally, consider that Energy-modeling headlined the latest article in the December 2012 ASHRAE Journal, it is obvious that energy-modeling remains important to ASHRAE, and the industry at large.
While many people automatically think this importance is directly related to LEED, (and there is definitely a correlation). However, the folks at ASHRAE are smarter than that - they know energy-modeling is important globally. From feedback we get here at Energy-models.com, here are 6 reasons that energy-modeling is becoming important to more and more people (including the non-technical crowd).
1) Recession/Poor Economy
In a bad economy, it is harder to sell building equipment/materials. One of the best ways to sell equipment is to show that it pays for itself. Thus, energy-modeling is a must have tool in your sales-kit. In fact, we received a large number of requests to have an energy-modeling course to help folks get started (eQUEST Quickstart).
For all you building owners - saving on your utility bills also means improving your bottom line. For companies that own buildings, saving energy means improving your bottom line - which INCREASES the value of your company - something that is important to shareholders. Since saving energy usually requires an upfront investment, an energy-model is important, since it's one of the few tools that can validate a good investment (which is extremely important in harsh economic times)
Utility companies are some of the biggest advocates of energy-modeling. Why? Well, in order to operate most efficiently, they need to predict usage patterns. Considering the expansion of many areas (and recession in others), this means that usage profiles are changing for utility companies, who have large amounts of existing infrastructure. Plus, if they are going to expand, they need to do so intelligently.
You can easily say that LEED is one of the keywords here. LEED has essentially become so popular that it helps to lease tenant space. This is related to other socio-economic issues. Not only is it important to your pocketbook, but many people feel a personal responsibility on environmental stewardship. Energy-modeling plays the biggest role in LEED certification, and thus, is important to marketing.
4) Carbon Dioxide
This is of course a hot button issue and I am NOT going to make a statement on it. But no matter what your opinion, Carbon Emissions are important to a number of people (and a large number of influential people). However, predicting CO2 emissions depends on a variety of factors, and buildings are the largest contributors of CO2 on the planet. While it follows that an energy-model can predict energy consumption, the important factor is "Where does the energy come from?". See, given the same energy consumption, the amount of CO2 is largely dependent on where the energy comes from. An energy model can be utilized to predict carbon emissions (since you can factor in the energy source!)
There are new products being introduced to the marketplace - at a seemingly exponential rate. Some of these products are great, and naturally some of them are hype. But how can you distinguish the difference? Reliability and reputation are of course key factors, and probably the most important factors to decision makers. However, the next step is validation, which can only be done cost effectively with an energy-model. (Research is great and necessary, but cannot be done cost effectively for every application)
6) Computational Power
Energy-modeling can take some time, and so can the simulation. However, for those of you acquainted with Moore's law, Energy-models continue to run faster and faster (and software continues to improve as the market size grows). Thus, the increase in computational power, has helped to coerce people who were previously alienated by the calculation times. The increase in computational power has also helped researchers continue to develop better energy modeling methods.