Why Modeling Matters: The Intersection of Design and Energy Efficiency

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“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

In the realm of building design and engineering, energy modeling has traditionally been perceived as a tool for technical experts and engineers to examine energy statistics and verify code compliance. However, with the advent of the US Green Building Council and a growing emphasis on sustainable design, this perception is rapidly changing. Today, Building Energy Modeling (BEM) serves as a versatile tool for both architects and engineers, aiding them in making informed, energy-efficient design decisions.

The Evolving Role of Energy Modeling

The scope of energy modeling has expanded significantly over the years. Once primarily a mechanism for determining building performance characteristics and heating and cooling loads, it now forms a crucial part of architectural design. Design professionals are increasingly using BEM not just for HVAC system selections, but to achieve an optimal balance between various competing factors, such as access to daylight and air conditioning usage. It enables architects and engineers to evaluate multiple engineering system alternatives, thereby influencing the overall building design from an energy-efficiency perspective.

Modeling at Firstgreen: A Collaborative Approach

At Firstgreen, our multidisciplinary team of engineers and architects leverage energy modeling as a collaborative tool to make informed design decisions. We employ known or assumed design elements in our models to understand how our choices will impact overall building performance and, importantly, our client’s bottom line.

For instance, suppose we’re contemplating a design with a south-facing glass wall. Using our energy modeling tools, we can analyze whether the aesthetic appeal and daylight benefits outweigh the potential increase in air conditioning costs. But the power of modeling doesn’t stop there. If the south-facing glass proves to be problematic, we can alter the material in the simulation and observe how this design modification impacts the overall energy efficiency.

This level of analysis and flexibility allows us to fine-tune our design approach and deliver both energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing solutions for our clients.

Conclusion: Embracing Energy Modeling in Design

In the modern world of sustainable design and construction, energy modeling is no longer just a technical tool. It’s a design asset, a collaborative platform, and a pathway towards more energy-efficient, sustainable buildings.

At Firstgreen, we fully embrace this approach, using the power of energy modeling to inform our design decisions and deliver value to our clients. We’re committed to creating buildings that are not just beautiful and functional, but also kind to the environment and friendly to the bottom line. And in this mission, energy modeling matters more than ever.

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