Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trends in Energy Analysis, from the BE 2008 conference

One of the presentations at the Bentley BE 2008 conference I had a chance to view was by Drury Crawley; Team Leader of Commercial Buildings R&D at DOE (Dept. of Energy).

(Side note: his title is WAY long……but he knows it, too….).

He covered trends in energy analysis, high performance buildings, and new business models for sustainability in buildings and facilities. I thought his high – level view of where the buildings / facility industry is going was very interesting, and it re-iterates a number of issues that I have seen in my work. Key themes included:

  • Consolidation of the Buildings industry (mergers & acquisitions)
  • Worker Health / Productivity / Comfort
  • Green House Gas (GHG) inventory and management (note: 39% of carbon emissions come from buildings….)
  • Green Buildings
  • Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB)
  • Energy Services Companies (ESCOs)
  • Bioterrorism

Some thoughts on his presentation and viewpoints are below:


Evaluating the impact of buildings on WAGES (Water, Air, Gas, Electric, Steam), Crawley cited figures indicating that buildings (including the electric power required) account for 45% of water use in the US alone. Not including electrical power, domestic use is 100 gpd per capita, and total water use considering the impact of electrical power generation is 140 Billion gallons a day. While most of the industry is currently focusing on driving down energy use and costs in buildings as a first step in achieving sustainability, it is clear that the ‘delta’ for improving water resource conservation is very high, and should also provide a strong market driver for adoption of technologies to maximize conservation and efficiency of water use in buildings.

Building Simulation

Similar to the advent of intelligent modeling driving adoption of green technologies (which I posted on here), Crawley maintains that building simulation allows for earlier decision making in the design – build process, particularly as it relates to energy use and analysis. In regards to technology, he sees the following major drivers: visualization, risk assessment (particularly for insurance), interoperability between systems, toxicity of the built environment, calculating ‘embodied’ energy via life cycle assessments (LCA), and integration of tools for thermal analysis, acoustics, and CFD for examples. It is clear that there is no one toolset to allow owners or consultants to conduct building simulations, and there is still a very strong need for training in simulation methodologies; not just the technology itself.

Another interesting point was that Green buildings and accreditation was driving the use of these simulation methodologies and tools; not higher energy costs.

Websites for more info on DOE’s commercial building R&D:




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