Services / Energy Modeling + Systems Optimization

Energy Modeling

We specialize in energy modeling as an optimization strategy. The first step is to minimize demand. We'll demonstrate how heat losses and heat gains are distributed between various components or mechanisms in your building. By tackling the biggest pieces of the pie first, you'll make the most headway towards minimizing heating and cooling demands. This both reduces equipment requirements and eliminates the saved energy from ever having to be used over the building's lifetime--who can argue with that!

Other demand reduction strategies include daylighting, compact design of plumbing systems, on-demand hot water circulation, low-flow water fixtures, and last but certainly not least: occupant education and engagement.

The second step is to provide for the energy demand as efficiently as possible. This is where high-efficiency HVAC and water heating equipment and distribution, high-efficiency lighting and appropriate controls, and high-efficiency appliances come in. Lastly, the third step is to produce the energy as efficiently as possible. Solar PV panels, solar thermal, ground source (geothermal or geoexchange), wind, fuel cells - it's finally your turn.

It's easy to go wrong with modeling; the mantra "Garbage In = Garbage Out" is no joke. We understand the fundamental science and calculations of heat, air and moisture transfer and that knowledge is reinforced with decades of real-world observations of building performance and failures. This is critical to be able to fully leverage the capabilities of building energy simulation and hygrothermal analysis tools while also understanding their limitations.

How to Work with Us

For most project types, please contact us so we can discuss the scale of your project and goals and create a customized scope of work. For single-family projects, we offer the following standard service packages:

Envelope Consulting

If the roof doesn't leak, the architect hasn't been creative enough."

                                                                             - Frank Lloyd Wright

At Beyond Efficiency, we'd say the architect should go back to building science school. The proper design and construction of a building's structural system and shell are critical for structural integrity and resilience, long-term durability, heating and cooling demand minimization, HVAC equipment sizing, thermal comfort and daylighting. In fact, we'd say that getting the structure and envelope right is the single most important aspect of creating a building (in parallel with beautiful architecture, of course). It's easy to switch out equipment, finishes and fixtures over a building's lifetime. But you need to get the enclosure right from the start. These days, who wants a maintenance-headache-too-hot-too-cold-energy-hog of a building?

Hire us to complete in-depth plan reviews of your building enclosure systems. We'll encourage simple, constructable approaches and details that will provide the foundation for an extremely energy-efficient, durable building. We'll advise on durability and water management issues, air tightness detailing, thermal bridging issues, building assembly optimization, and window design and shading. We're adept with a range of energy modeling software, from whole-building simulation tools such as IES Virtual Environment and Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) to specialty programs such as THERM for two-dimensional heat flow modeling, WUFI for dynamic moisture modeling and Radiance for daylighting. For precise shading studies we really like SketchUp. Finally, we have extensive experience with Title 24 code compliance software--EnergyPro, CBECC-COM and CBECC-RES

HVAC + Plumbing Advising

Having trouble getting useful info and options from your contractor or designer? We'll create accurate energy models and provide room-by-room HVAC load calculations to support equipment sizing and systems design. We can also develop schematic plans and specifications for high-performance heating, ventilation, cooling and plumbing systems. Our sketches inform the architect of design allowances needed to accommodate these systems and provide a solid foundation for a contractor to establish their scope and estimate the job. You'll find this service particularly helpful when pursuing atypical strategies or not engaging design engineers.

Need formal mechanical engineering services? We work with a full-service licensed mechanical engineer who picks up where our in-house services leave off. With a broad range of experience from single-family to large commercial and municipal projects, our engineer isn't afraid to think outside the box and apply both common-sense and creativity to solve the engineering challenges presented by low-demand, high-performance projects.

Title 24 Energy Compliance

As part of our typical energy optimization scope we'll provide Title 24 energy models and compliance documentation as required for building permit submittal. Need training on new standards and the fine print of the code? Explore our training services.