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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Wednesday
Jun062007

Let's Make Energy Models Relevant

Energy modeling is an important part of designing more performant and healthful buildings. Energy modeling is a foundational requirement of important initiatives such as the Zero Energy Building Initiative (link) or the Zero Net Carbon Building project (link). Building Energy Modeling is also an important tool to determine problems in building design before the more expensive construction process begins. Today, because of lack of integration and a reluctance to re-think the design-build process, Energy Modeling is often an ineffective sop to public constituencies, adding cost but little value to a project. This is particularly true for construction projects performed by government agencies, with their commitment to traditional processes and metrics that are often in conflict with innovation and new business processes.

New building projects have two sources of design constraints: organizational goals and design intents. Organizational goals are larger than any single project, and stem often from public pronouncements. All new buildings will be at least LEED Silver. Each new office building will have an energy budget 20% below that of our existing portfolio when it comes on line. Design intents are transcribed for each building, often during marathon charrettes with lots of soggy deli take-out. Together they describe the success points against which the design should be evaluated.

Many of today’s energy models are generated in response to organizational intents. Energy models are a source of green points, and they may have some tangential applicability to the construction documents. They are rarely an intrinsic part of the design process. They are often a sub-contract let by the design firm.

It is more useful to think of Energy Modeling as an audit or commissioning process applied to the design. Just as we wish to commission a building before we accept occupancy, we should commission the design before we bring it to bid. Just as we commission a building to see if it works as designed, we should commission the design to see if it has met the organizational goals and design intents. The energy model is one part of commissioning the design, and as an audit, it may be best be performed by a third party working for the owner rather than the designer.

Often the sole real liability for the designer pre-construction is meeting the bidding budget. If this constraint is not met, we return to the designer for the misnamed “value engineering”. A better process, based upon a persistent building model, would re-subject all value engineered designs to energy modeling as well as the other design validation processes currently being developed [1] . These models would then present explicitly to the owner the compromises to design intent and organizational goals that derive from the value engineering process.

This increased liability on the designer will not come without cost. Increased liability demands increased payment for increased value. This increased cost will be easy to recapture. Errors are always easiest and cheapest to fix earlier in any process.



[1] See efforts by the International Codes Council (ICC) to automate compliance checking, beginning with automated Energy Code Compliance checking, with Electrical Code, Plumbing Code and other compliances in the plans.

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  • Response
    Response: Integrate Why?

Reader Comments (1)

John Greenwell asks as important question. Why integrate?

There are many spaces in which integration makes no sense. If there is no business amenity available, why integrate? If there is no integrated workflow or enterprise process in a hotelled/concierge office operations, why integrate? If the only thing that matters is occupancy rate, and that is only affected by 24x7 amenity, whenever someone enters the building, why integrate?

To make it worthwhile to integrate in these scenarios, there will need to be real incentives available from the power grid. Such incentives

Lynne Kiesling describes this problem well in here post on Maryland pricing in knowledgeproblem (http://www.knowledgeproblem.com/archives/002078.html) . If we set up the markets badly, there is really very little reason, aside from some abstract sense of virtue, for the generic commercial office building to participate.

This is, however, a problem of regulated markets. If the markets have been stacked against information, in the form of pricing, flowing to the building operator, there are few economic incentives the commercial building owner to be interested.

To me, a more interesting question is “Why are our markets so bad?” Why have the utilities commissions so stacked the deck that bad choices, for the grid and for society are the normal outcome?

Back in the 70’s, someone stated that a country with inflation was a country in which everyone lied about the future value of goods. This habitual lying meant that business decisions would be made for bad economic reasons. I would posit that a world with fixed utility pricing, one in which the very real differences in societal costs based on time of day usage are hidden by the utilities commission, is one that lies.

And those lies harm society. And those lies are what validate Greenwell’s question.

June 7, 2007 | Registered CommenterToby Considine

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