published modeling costs

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Can anyone direct me to published values of typical modeling costs?

Thanks,
Ellen Franconi, PhD, LEED AP, BEMP

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Dear Ellen,
I'll bet that costs are a moving target as modelers become more experienced, software improves and expectations evolve.
I also think that client expectations for an energy model are often exceptionally vague. Sometimes, it's just "Get me LEED points" with little or no concern for whether it is a good model and will be useful for, say, M&V efforts. We always assume that the client will be able to use our models for M&V, but I doubt that's a universal attitude. So far as we can tell, there are energy models prepared for the US EPACT tax credits which are MUCH less costly than seems possible for a detailed model - how can a client tell what they're getting unless they are very sophisticated?
Please share whatever you learn - I'm fairly sure my company is very competitive for M&V-grade models, but it's hard to know if you're either worse than average or much better!

James V Dirkes II, PE, BEMP, LEED AP

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I'm interested in any information on the costs of modeling existing
buildings, particularly the costs associated with obtaining the
necessary input data when the existing drawings etc are poor or
non-existent.

Thanks,

Philip Haves

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That "drawings etc are poor or non-existent" situation is pretty darn common! ..and is a factor to be reckoned with as we go forward (hopefully), with a lot more models of existing buildings.

James V Dirkes II, PE, BEMP, LEED AP

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Mr. Dirkes is correct, however I have found poorly documented tenant
improvements to be even more typical if you need zone by zone modeling
for some reason.

Robert Wichert

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It occurs to me that there are several programs right here in California
where you are located, Philip, that struggle with this routinely. On
the residential side, programs such as the CalRatePro supported utility
programs need to model existing buildings where drawings may be
difficult or impossible to obtain. On the non-residential side, utility
rebate programs here in California are likely to require a model to
predict savings. Multi-Family upgrade programs like the California Tax
Credit Allocation Committee (google TCAC) incentive programs deal with
this as well. Although you may be familiar with these programs, and
these programs may actually be at the root of your question, discussing
this with local consultants and providers, in confidence, might be a
good way to get information. Resources might include frequent utility
rebate partners, CALCERTS, EnergySoft, and consultants such as myself.

I would be willing to discuss this with you if you wish.

Robert P Wichert P.Eng. Inc.

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There have been a few discussion in the past across the [bldg.-sim] and [equest-users] lists covering costs and fee structures for energy modeling services. Attached are a few selected threads that should be worthwhile reads from the bottom-up. The "Response & Statement..." thread in particular diverged into many different directions (It was a broad topic of conversation to start, to be fair) - a search of the archives will lead you to a number of other responses if you should find the content matter interesting.

As someone who writes proposals, I REALLY wish there were an easy answer, but alas every project / client is unique! Coming to a reasonable estimate typically requires digging hard at what information is (or will become) readily available, clear definition & statement of expectations, and an honest introspective assessment of how efficiently the modeling staff can accomplish the known challenges, and much the modelers' time is worth. These are all tricky propositions in and of themselves.

When limited/no resources are available - you have to consider costs of field-verification and creating what you need for the intended goals. Pricing the costs of developing "what you know you don't know" is always going to involve some educated guesswork. Anecdotally, I can recall an SD phase exercise exploring building massing for a large renovation, and we had only fragmented info to work from in the way of plans. After a trip to the site and a walk of the perimeter & courtyards snapping lots of shots from different perspectives, I constructed a massing model in Sketchup from the photos themselves (this is actually kinda fun - here's a video showing the principles of the procedure). This "SD" model was used directly at that stage alonside the free IES-VE Sketchup plugins, and was later used as a basis for developing design plans and a more involved series of eQuest model studies. Main point being: this procedure is something I had to develop 'on the fly,' and encountering the same challenge in the future I'll have a good idea of what this entails, but often we can only work from the pool of experience we have and throw together a number that seems reasonable on paper. If you're disciplined about reviewing the estimates and assumptions you make at the close of a project, you'll grow in your ability to assess and accurately quote future work.

Regards,

NICK CATON, P.E.

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