Bob Fassbender's blog

Undo Button in TRACE 700, eQUEST ANYTHING!

Posted on: February 15, 2012

Disclaimer: We know that many of the really good modelers are already doing this! If you are already up to date on this, at least check out some of our recommendations

Regardless of your software preference (maybe you use both), you have probably already said this to yourself, "Why the heck isn't there an undo button?" 

Or maybe you are sick of not being able to run TRACE 700 files on a network?

So what's the solution. You have no doubt heard of "cloud computing" right? This is where your files are stored online somewhere and then backing it up is their problem. To be honest, a lot of cloud computing sucks because of speed issues and lack of user friendliness.

There is an option that is so easy a 100 year old architect could use it  (you use your computer just like you usually do) and it's great for energy-modelers. Oy yeah, and it's free (you get 2 gb of space free, and you get a bonus if you sign up with the link below). It's called dropbox and you can use this link to sign up and get bonus space.

Why is it BETTER than running TRACE 700 on a network?

Dropbox backs up your file everytime you close it. So, the rest of the time, it's just like any other file on your computer, so you don't run into issues with . There's a limit to the number of backups, but if you change the file name every so often, that's not a problem.

You can also share a folder.

Solar panels - most bang for the buck? See this map

Posted on: February 13, 2012

Solar Panels - most bang for the buck

This map shows the solar energy potential by region in the United states for items such as photo-voltaics, solar hot water, and solar heating.

Don't forget, the map is interactive. Use your scroll wheel or +/- buttons to zoom in and out. Left click and drag to move the center of the map.

Hover the mouse cursor over a region to see more details since the map also tells you: how many houses can a solar panel power? (by location, assuming 100,000 square foot array).

Awesome Energy Model Map of NYC

Posted on: February 7, 2012

Total Annual Building Energy Consumption for New York City

View larger map

Check out this map that shows a near building level energy analysis of New York City. The map also estimates the heating, cooling, electricity and hot water use of each block.

The map represents the total annual building energy consumption at the block level (zoom levels 11-15) and at the taxlot level (zoom levels 16-18) for New York City, and is expressed in kilowatt hours (k Wh) per square meter of land area. The data comes from a mathematical model based on statistics, not private information from utilities, to estimate the annual energy consumption values of buildings throughout the five boroughs. To see the break down of the type of energy being used, for which purpose and in what quantity, hover over or click on a block or taxlot. 


Data Source: Spatial distribution of urban building energy consumption by end use
B. Howard, L. Parshall, J. Thompson, S. Hammer, J. Dickinson, V. Modi

Global warming solved?

Posted on: February 6, 2012

Energy-models have become more popular in the last couple years - this is certain. This is in part due to ASHRAE, LEED, and increased computational power.

So you could ask, "How successful is energy-modeling?".

Let's take a look at the [current] ultimate metric for environmental success - Global Warming.

I've heard that a way to measure global warming is by arctic populations, especially that of tertiary predators - chiefly the polar bear. While watching the Big Game, I witnessed something that gave indisputable evidence that the polar bear population is thriving, and possibly even evolving.

The number of polar bears shown over the passed few years has grown exponentially, which indicates healthy arctic populations and large polar ice caps.

The numbers are staggering, if we cite polar bear sample population sizes during "Big Game" Commercials:

  • 2009 - 2 polar bears
  • 2010 - 3 polar bears (one was an infant - so successful breeding is occurring)
  • 2011 - 4 polar bears
  • 2012 - 8 polar bears
To summarize the data, the polar bear population is growing exponentially. For more information on Virtual Polar bear preservation, please buy Coca Cola.
See the evidence yourself here: 

Please note that no animals were harmed making the energy models that stopped global warming.

Hyperdrive energy-modeling?

Posted on: February 3, 2012

What do you think is the hardest part of starting a model?

I'm sure one of the items is getting a clear picture of the building, which often means looking at drawings, and mechanicals.

Often, it's best to talk about the model with a person that knows the building well or asking them to describe it. In the case where you ask for the building inputs, those unfamiliar with energy modeling often send unnecessary data, but miss key components.

However, if you send them this form, and ask them to fill out and include your email. BOOM! You can receive the basics requirements you need to build a model.

In fact, with this information, you could build a model in about 15 minutes (eQUEST, System Analyzer, TRACE 700 new file wizard).

What are the ideal uses of the building energy model survey?

  • Preliminary LEED calculations
  • Life Cycle Cost analysis models
  • Simple Payback Models
  • Comparative Models 
  • Energy Audits

How does it work?

Send the link for the survey, and ask your client to add your email address.
Upon completion of the survey, you receive an email with the results laid out clearly.

The link is:

Print eQUEST reports to PDF

Posted on: January 12, 2012

So you have just completed an eQUEST run and you want to send your reports to a colleague by email. You are wondering, "how can I print to pdf?". (or maybe you are getting an error with your current pdf software).

Well, you could spend hundreds on special pdf software, but there's a free way to do this. You can even print all of your reports into one pdf!

HVAC - What is a Cooling Design Day?

Posted on: June 16, 2016

Design Days are here!

Maybe you already know about Design Days, but did you know that Energy Modeling was basically invented to determine the design day, and the design hour?

What is a Cooling Design Day and why is it important?

The Cooling Design Day is effectively the "worst case"  day for your air conditioning loads. The "worst case" hour of this day determines equipment capacity, fan sizes, and subsequently duct sizes. This largely impacts first cost. The Design Hour also impacts peak KW demand which often has a huge impact on the utility bill.

When is the Design hour?

A common rule of thumb is that the design hour occurs during July at 15:00. The summer months are common but a peak in any month is possible especially in warmer climates where the solar angle fluctuates more than the ambient conditions.

I pulled up a random file and plotted the design loads. The "rule" for July doesn't hold. In fact, September shows a higher peak than July!

HVAC Design Days

Why is my Cooling Design Day in December (or October, November, January etc)?

9 Energy Modelers You Should Know

Posted on: November 6, 2014

Has anyone else noticed that the last few months have brought some interesting new trends to the industry? This has also been evident given the inquiries here at (I should probably follow up on some of the trends that are changing in the building simulation community- yes, I am a data nerd). While our typical support request is usually a request to rectify some error or anomaly, the last few months have seen a slight change. Our number 1 inquiry has been for “taking over” an existing project, and we have simply not been able to accommodate these requests. We have tried to help where we can, which has often meant sending someone a referral. The trouble is that we only know so many people who we feel confident in sending a project to. All in all, I believe we referred over 20 different projects in 2014. Some people have been baffled by this, wondering how we can “give away” clients. Our response is that they were never our clients to give away and the one time I was asked directly about our 'business plan', having referred a prospect to someone I had never met (but had been referred to), I responded that I believe in karmic retribution :D

Per the many phone calls and emails, we think it is clear that most of us are not very visible to the people looking to find us. Moreover, we have found that people are looking for a single point of contact (an individual) but are also looking for reputable companies. Unfortunately, a lot of the people that call with such request are calling because they are in a time crunch, making referrals very difficult.

Let’s say you or your company got really busy and you had to recommend an energy-modeler for a client? What criteria would you pick?

5 cold hard truths about Energy-modeling

Posted on: August 7, 2014

I read an article a few years back about how energy-modeling was inaccurate. I disagreed with a lot of the articles premise, but not the energy-nerd’s conclusion. The article failed to specify that they were talking about residential energy modeling, which I thought was a cheap shot, because it is easier to miss the mark on poorly controlled buildings. My biggest problem with the article was that it blamed the software. I have a saying:  If you want to blame the software, please consult a mirror first.

The software packages are not the main problem. Not even close. Barking up that tree is the calling card of someone who just wants to bitch about energy-modeling. I can tell you that if somebody’s primary complaint is the software, they are poorly educated within the building energy model field.

Considering that back story, I decided to add my 2 cents. So here are 5 cold hard truths about energy-modeling, from someone who  promotes energy-modeling:

Why are the software packages so limited?

Cold hard truth: Corporate self interest limits the software.

Comparing Two eQUEST Files with Notepad++

Posted on: February 25, 2014

Using notepad++, there is a very efficient way to compare two eQUEST pd2 or *.inp files.  This also works with EnergyPlus, and basically any two text based files. Check out the video and I'll show you how.