When Building Energy Models Outperform Their Buildings: What Happened and How to Prevent It

Written By: Jared Higgins, PE, CEM, GGP

Date: April 28, 2012

Jared Higgins, PE, CEM, GGP, is a Principal and Mechanical Engineer in Parkhill’s MEP/Structural Practice. He is a leader in mechanical systems design and energy services, which includes energy modeling, building commissioning, and energy policy and codes.

Energy models have become a commonly used service for several new constructions and existing renovation projects. The accuracy of energy models has improved greatly over the past decade and has the potential to provide important information on utility consumption and costs on a building as designed.

So, why do the buildings sometimes not operate as predicted?

Even after one year of operation, the building performance can drop off rapidly over the next few years. Building owners that paid for the energy modeling service to help make design decisions want to see the anticipated payback. This paper will investigate several causes throughout the design, construction, and facility operation that have the potential to alter the energy model results. Possible solutions to these issues will also be discussed.

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