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Data Driven Design Using Building Modeling Software

by Saheed Imoru, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Sustainability

As our industry moves closer to the target of the AIA 2030 Commitment, major strides have been made in the design of sustainable buildings. With building modeling software, we can now take a lot of the guesswork out of designing sustainable buildings and accurately predict the energy usage, daylighting effectiveness, envelope performance, etc. The results of this modeling can then be used to make informed decisions for building orientation, envelope design, building materials, mechanical systems, and electrical systems during the design phase when it’s easiest to make changes. This is ideal for providing owners and designers options to best fit their budgets and goals.

Is modeling only for new buildings?

New buildings can be modeled from the earliest stages of design. But existing buildings are also great opportunities to use building modeling software to make data driven decisions. Existing buildings make up the majority of our building stock, and therefore represent a greater portion of the demand for energy in our communities than new buildings. When retrofitting an existing building, there are many opportunities to make the building more sustainable, including the choice of equipment, systems, and materials. For example, in the case of an equipment replacement retrofit, an analysis of the building’s energy performance with the proposed equipment can quantify the return on investment if more efficient equipment is purchased. Modeling provides real data to allow Owners to make informed decisions.

Solar Power & Net Zero

Building modeling is a vital part of the design of a net zero building. When combined with an energy-efficient building design, planning for net zero doesn’t mean added cost, it means exploring sustainable design options and designing for flexibility. The cost of solar photovoltaic systems continues to drop as not only the A/E/C industry, but the industrial world focuses on sustainability. Solar energy is a great vehicle to move us toward sustainable and net zero buildings Modeling a building’s energy usage and estimating the potential for photovoltaic power generation is part of the discovery of different options. Modeling ensures the design team will have the information they need to support decisions and incorporate the infrastructure required to support the future installation of solar power.

The building modeling process is an indispensable tool for the design team that can provide data to lead design decisions. This data can also inform the project’s stakeholders to validate their decisions and provide confidence in those decisions.

Energy and Carbon Footprint Comparison
Net Zero Ready Design

If you would like to have a conversation regarding DBR’s building modeling services, please contact Tim Kilby or Saheed Imoru.

Read about our Sustainability services 

Saheed Imoru
Director of Sustainability
Tim W. Kilby
Director of Commissioning, Senior Associate