Energy Modeling: A Comprehensive Tool For Building Energy Efficiency
Energy Modeling is a study which estimates a building’s energy requirement throughout a year. It is used to assess a building’s overall performance as requested by certain local norms, building codes and environmental certifications as well as assessing energy efficiency techniques impacts and comparing techniques with each other.
I. What is Energy Modeling?
This advanced computational method allows for the evaluation of a building's annual energy consumption, considering all its energy uses and potential local energy production. We say this modelization is "dynamic" because it takes into account the temporal variations of environmental and operational conditions of the building, providing a more precise model of seasonal and daily energy consumption fluctuations.
Going beyond Heat Transfer Calculation, which mainly focuses on the building's thermal needs such as heating, cooling, and hot water, energy modeling also includes consumption related to emission, management and regulation systems, distribution, storage and generation, as well as artificial lighting systems, and potentially other equipment present in the building. It also considers the interactions between different systems within the same building and between systems and the building itself.
II. The stakes of Energy Modeling
Energy Modeling is an essential tool for the construction and renovation of sustainable buildings as it addresses several challenges that can be classified into two categories: global challenges and building-scale challenges.
Reduction of CO2 emissions: Buildings account for a third of the world's energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Thus, by contributing to the energy efficiency of the real estate stock, energy modeling can help reduce emissions related to it
Regulatory context: Many countries have implemented regulations aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings, such as RE 2020 in France, which made it mandatory. Energy modeling can help building owners comply with these regulations by providing detailed information on their buildings' energy performance.
Resilience of real estate stock: Due to global warming, buildings may be more vulnerable to increasing climatic hazards. By optimizing energy consumption and aiming for more energy-autonomous buildings, they will be better equipped to face these challenges.
Energy efficiency: It allows for the identification of the building's main energy consumption end uses and losses, and to bring corrective measures to alleviate them.
Intelligent energy control: energy modeling establishes different energy efficiency strategies based on various parameters such as climate, seasons, but also depending on the architectural and technical characteristics of the building as well as its equipment. For instance, energy modeling allows for the simulation of the energy performances of different technical solutions implemented, propose the most efficient envelope assemblies like the choice of insulation or glazing, aid in choosing the most efficient heating and cooling production systems, like a high-efficiency condensing boiler or a heat pump, assess the effectiveness of artificial lighting management, etc.
Estimation of future consumption and forecast of operating costs: Based on energy prices, energy modeling allows for the comparison of different energy solutions and estimating the overall cost from the beginning of the project's conception, which can be very useful to the contracting authority when preparing provisional costs.
III. Operation of an Energy Modeling software
Energy Modeling is structured around two key components: interfaces and calculation engines.
The interfaces, often graphical, organize the input and output data of the simulation. They facilitate the user's interaction with the software and allow for a clear visualization of the results.
The calculation engines are the heart of energy modeling software. They calculate energy consumptions and ambiance conditions in the building's areas from the input data. These calculations are based on complex mathematical models that take into account a multitude of factors.
Different modules are considered in the calculation of the building's energy performance to allow for a complete, accurate, and more realistic analysis. Among these modules, there are for example:
A building envelope module that considers the thermal properties of construction materials, the building's orientation, windows, roofs, etc.
A heating and cooling systems module that simulates the performance of different heating and cooling systems used in the building. It can help choose the most efficient system and optimize its operation.
A lighting module that simulates the building's lighting needs and the efficiency of different lighting systems.
An occupancy module that takes into account the building's occupancy (occupancy hours, number of occupants, etc) so that the simulation is more precise.
A weather conditions module that takes into account weather conditions, including outdoor temperature, sunshine, wind, etc.
In conclusion, energy modeling is an essential tool for the energy efficiency of buildings. Its use should aim to be systematically implemented for all construction and renovation projects and is already made mandatory, for example in France for the construction of new residential and tertiary buildings.
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