With the federal government’s lack of movement on climate change, more cities and towns are stepping up and focusing on ways to address climate change, says Chris Schaffner, instructor for HeatSpring’s Energy Modeling in eQUEST course.
That means that the demand for energy modeling has increased because modeling allows users to analyze the climate impacts of buildings.
In fact, Schaffner began offering energy models in 2005 and didn’t have any employees. Now, he has 22 employees, including eight who are dedicated to energy modeling full time.
Climate Change Regulations Spur Increased Demand for Modeling
The increase in demand for modeling has largely been spurred by regulations and building codes that aim to boost energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions, he says.
“You may be trying to get an estimate of a building’s annual energy consumption. You do this by creating a model of the building systems and simulating energy consumption for an entire year, hour by hour,” he explains. This estimate allows users to make variations in the building while designing it and seeing how the alterations affect energy usage.
The variations might include triple or double glazed windows or different types of heating systems. An eQUEST user can also change the building’s hours of operation or thermostat settings.
eQUEST is Modeling Standard
To accomplish such energy analysis goals, eQUEST is the standard modeling software. It’s free, but doesn’t come with support. That’s what Schaffner’s course does. He teaches engineers, architects, contractors and others how to use eQUEST.
After learning eQUEST, students can address regulations requiring net zero energy evaluations, codes that call for carbon impact analyses or other issues.
For example, Schaffner recently worked on a design for an elementary school in suburban Boston. The school wanted to evaluate the possibility of attaining net zero energy usage.
Using the software, he first modeled a building that met the local energy code. He compared that to more aggressive options– reducing energy consumption to levels more stringent than the building code, for example. He also used eQUEST to look at the option of adding renewable energy.
“By also doing a cost analysis of different options, the town will decide what pathway to pursue,” he says.
Boston Asks for Net Zero Studies
For large projects, the City of Boston required a feasibility study of the possibility of designing a net zero building.
“They ask you for the study in addition to other options for the building. They are hoping that more projects will do net zero once they see it’s possible to get close,” he explains.
The state of Massachusetts also requires a greenhouse gas analysis aimed at understanding the climate impacts of buildings, for larger projects requiring environmental review.
Modeling Carbon Emissions
“Using eQUEST, we look at building energy consumption and carbon emissions and identify strategies that would reduce the carbon impact of the building,” Schaffner says.
Across the country and the world, such regulations are becoming more common. Sometimes, the regulations are in building codes. Other times, they are state or local mandates.
In all cases, it’s possible to use eQUEST to show designers, architects, regulators and building owners the many ways they can lower energy usage, cut carbon emissions and contribute to the fight against climate change.
Expert Professional Education Resource
To learn more and sign up for Chris’ course visit his Energy Modeling in eQUEST course information page. Earn BPI Credits and join us in our upcoming instructor-led session with Chris.
Leading Organizations Choose HeatSpring
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