Life Cycle Cost Analysis: What it is and why it may be the right thing for you
November 13, 2018
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Buildings Tell a Story

Some are more vocal than others and some are more interesting than others.

Last year about this very same time, I wrote about Energy Modeling for meeting code and LEED requirements.  DMA has done a lot of energy modeling in the past twelve months, for both CPACE and code requirements.  I believe that having a certification is good way to show your skills and I met the continuing education credit credits needed to keep my Building Energy Modeling Professional certification in good standing for the next couple of years.  That practice is particularly important because the programs we use are always changing and becoming even more powerful and have even more functionality than we could have imagined even just a few years ago.  And as energy modeling makes up one of the major tenets of our services, it’s always good to reflect on what we have done, why our client’s request energy modeling and more importantly, when and why a client should request energy modeling on a project.

Building loads are typically the first part of energy model and we usually do a basic load analysis on most of our projects, including tenant improvements.  With every change in code requirements, construction techniques, lighting upgrades and ventilation requirements, the rules that governed a building’s past don’t always hold true—and the space needs to be analyzed (or re-analyzed).  The heating and cooling loads can be determined using a psychometric chart or with specialized software (DMA uses DesignBuilder).

In 2018, we worked with a general contractor on a high-end residential project in Vail, with an emphasis on exploring building cooling due the ever increasing ambient summer temperatures.  We ran an energy model of the building at different points throughout the day to determine the operative temperature of the space.  With these data points, we were able to help the owner discover changes to the windows and skylights that would reduce the overall heat gain of the building while reducing the operative temperature of the space.  DMA also informed the owner about the kind of days the space would not be in the comfort range as well as an approximate number of those days.  Armed with this information, the owner was able make informed decisions about his home.

We are currently working with Health Trust of America on a pair of buildings in Highlands Ranch.  Health Trust recently added the two to their portfolio and are working to bring the buildings up to their standards.  We are currently performing a full retro-commissioning of the buildings, and DMA has been using energy modeling to evaluate advanced control sequences that balance both occupant comfort and energy savings.  These models have also been particularly beneficial in evaluating increased savings by implementing internal and external shading.

Energy modeling is a great tool we use to tell the building story, and the modeling output is integral for a life cycle analysis.  Having the ability to run “what if…” scenarios before anything is ever built or changed is the huge advantage energy modeling brings.