Architect’s guide to integrating energy modeling in the design process

“The energy model and focus on energy performance is not meant to supplant the importance of design. Rather, a building energy model is a tool that can be utilized throughout the design process to test various design options and optimize the performance of all building typologies.”

With today’s increasing focus on sustainability, we must become fluent in the vocabulary and technologies that predict, test, and quantify energy performance in buildings. Familiarity with building energy modeling is essential to respond to the requirements of new green building codes and savvy clients, and this guide provides a start.

One key message of the guide is that architects needn’t become technical experts on energy modeling or the myriad software tools currently available. However, a working understanding of the energy modeling process is needed to empower us to fold this necessary and valuable capability into our fundamentally integrative work.

The information contained in the guide is designed to entice us to engage engineers, energy modelers, and project team members on energy and performance issues early and throughout the design and operation processes.

This document contains a summary of the most prevalent tools for performance and energy modeling currently used in the industry, along with key terminology, processes, and practices that have been used shown to help architects. Content is divided into seven sections and covers:

  • Potential for new and ongoing services
  • Basic methodology
  • Measurement, monitoring, reporting, and calibration
  • The compliance process
  • Energy models and daylighting simulation tools
  • Interoperability and more.

Image credits


Courtesy of the AIA’s Energy Modeling Working Group