Why you Need an Independent Energy Modeller on your Next Project.

Paul Paterson
May 23, 2024By Paul Paterson

What's the best way to optimize building energy performance, life-cycle costs, and carbon emissions reductions?

While building owners and architects often rely on their mechanical engineers to address this question, a dedicated energy modeler can provide enhanced value when collaborating with the design team to optimize energy, costs, and carbon emissions.

The Value of Energy Modeling

A UAE developer was looking to deliver a ground breaking net zero project in Abu Dhabi and employed a consulting team who would be responsible for the energu performance and net zero calcualtions.

The consulting team relied on the mechanical engineer for energy compliance, since their scope already included code compliance and system design.

The engineering team decided to take a typical more steady state model approach using HAP software to identfy loads and evalue energy performance against the ASHRAE90.1 baseline to comply with the local Estidama code.

Howver, this process meant a lot of the systems were oversized since the approach did not take into account the actual peformacne of the buildig or allow analysis of the system response to changing building loads. Our modelling insight, as independent experts, meant we could support the engineer to design out inefficiencies and cut down on system sizes and capacities. This delvered significant capital savings for teh client in the region of $370,000 while ensuring code compliance ws maintained, alongsiide better performance and a higher likelihoodl of achieving net zero.

The Role of Mechanical Engineers vs. Energy Modelers

Mechanical engineers are crucial in designing and optimizing HVAC systems and other mechanical aspects of a building. Their primary focus is on functionality, minimum code compliance, and the overall performance of mechanical systems.

Energy modelers, on the other hand, specialize in whole-building energy modeling, using advanced software and analytical tools to simulate and evaluate a building's energy consumption. They aim to optimize energy efficiency, find integrated opportunities for cost savings, and reduce the building's environmental impact. Positioned adjacent to the traditional design team structure, energy modelers provide independent, unbiased evaluations, considering a wide range of options to determine the most effective solutions for a project.

Mechanical engineers are high value participants in any project and their skillset provides the following:

1.  Valuable expertise in designing the mechanical systems of a building, including cooling, heating, ventilation, fire protection, water, and drainage.
2. Ensure that these critical systems are properly sized, integrated, and meet the owner’s project requirements and intent.
3. Focus on functionality, minimum code compliance, and the overall performance of the mechanical systems.

And the energy modeller skills dovetail into this critical component by:

4. Specialize in whole building energy modeling, utilizing advanced software and analytical tools to simulate and evaluate a building’s energy consumption.
5. Aim to optimize energy efficiency, find integrated opportunities for cost savings, and reduce the environmental impact of the building.

Benefits of a Dedicated Energy Modeler

Independence is key, and this is also recommended under the CIBSE TM54 framework which is an industry leading performance modelling standard. Having a specialist team overseeing energy and carbon scope means that designers can design, and get access to specialised information on loads, perfor,ance, conyrols, and emisison - at the riught time to enahnce project outcomes.

Consider the key scope in a build program. A complex undertaking with many consultants and designers. Why have a core component in this day and age - energu and carbon modelling - hidden as part of a sistainabilty consultant scope or down the supply chain in the engineering team.

This approach is sub optimal and impacts deliver on the design, engineering amd energy scopes.

Consider what the energy model team can focus on:

LEED Modelling.

Net Zero Modelling

International Future Living Institute Compliance

Code Compliance Modelling

Daylight Modelling

Thermal Comfort

Performance and analytics for controls systems.

ALl of these are specialist interests which, if covered with an independen modelling team, and help you ensure projects are delivered with optimal outcomes for clients.

This role is unbiased, meaning objecive analysis with a 'best for project' mindset - adding huge value for clients.

PLus with specialised expertise and advanced knowledge in whole-building energy modeling, energy modelers offer a unique perspective and identify opportunities that might be overlooked by other contributors.

This means engineers and designers get to focus on making sure systems and services are technically suited to the building performance requirements, are designed to the right spec, and that are functionally suitable for the building operation. The energy model team provides the details performance alcualtions needed to make the engineering designs work, and vice versa. It is a synergistic relationship and one which makes both roles work better and more efficiently.

Elevation SOLVE your problems

Our state of the art SOLVE framework means teams can use a methodocal approach to delivery and helps ensure the integration of the roles that the successful team in this net zero era need.

person holding light bulb


As we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and create energy-efficient buildings, the SOLVE framework offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing building performance. Here’s how our SOLVE framework can guide your project to success.

1. Strategize:

The first step in our SOLVE framework is to strategize. This involves developing a thorough, well-planned approach tailored to the specific needs of the building and the goals of the stakeholders.

Assessment of Current Performance: Begin by evaluating the existing performance of the building. Identify key areas where energy efficiency can be improved and sustainability measures can be implemented.
Goal Setting: Work with stakeholders to establish clear, achievable goals for energy efficiency, cost savings, and carbon emissions reduction. These goals will guide the entire project.
Action Plan: Develop a detailed action plan that outlines the steps required to achieve the set goals. This plan should include timelines, milestones, and responsibilities.

2. Optimize:

Optimization is at the heart of the SOLVE framework. Utilizing advanced energy modeling tools, we can simulate different scenarios and identify the most effective design decisions.

Energy Modeling: Use sophisticated software to create a whole-building energy model. This model allows us to simulate various design options and their impact on energy consumption.

Scenario Analysis: Evaluate different design scenarios to find the optimal balance between energy efficiency, cost, and occupant comfort. This includes analyzing the impact of various materials, systems, and technologies.

Iterative Refinement: Continuously refine the design based on the results of the energy modeling and scenario analysis. This iterative process ensures that the final design is optimized for maximum performance.

3. Leverage:

Leveraging the expertise of the entire design team is crucial for the success of the project. Collaboration between architects, mechanical engineers, energy modelers, and other stakeholders ensures a holistic approach to building performance.

Team Collaboration: Foster a collaborative environment where all team members can contribute their expertise. Regular meetings and open communication channels are essential.
Integrated Design: Ensure that all aspects of the building’s design are considered together. This includes the building envelope, HVAC systems, lighting, and other critical components.
Stakeholder Engagement: Involve stakeholders in the decision-making process. Their input is valuable in ensuring that the final design meets their needs and expectations.

4. Validate:

Validation is essential to ensure that the design meets all regulatory requirements and sustainability goals.

Compliance Checks: Verify that the design complies with all relevant energy codes and standards. This includes local regulations such as the Estidama Pearl Rating System in the UAE.
Certification Guidance: Assist the team in obtaining green building certifications such as LEED, ILFI, Net Zero Energy, and Net Zero Carbon. These certifications demonstrate the building’s commitment to sustainability.
Performance Verification: Conduct performance verification tests to ensure that the building operates as designed. This includes commissioning, energy audits, and ongoing monitoring.

5. Evaluate:

Continuous evaluation of the building’s performance is vital to ensure that it continues to meet the expected benefits and to identify opportunities for further improvement.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation: Conduct post-occupancy evaluations to gather feedback from occupants and assess the building’s performance in real-world conditions.

Performance Monitoring: Implement a robust monitoring system to track the building’s energy consumption, indoor air quality, and other key performance indicators.

Continuous Improvement: Use the data collected from performance monitoring to identify areas for improvement. Implement corrective actions as needed to maintain optimal performance.

The SOLVE framework provides a structured, comprehensive approach to optimizing building energy performance, life-cycle costs, and carbon emissions reductions. By following this framework, building owners, developers, and architects can achieve their sustainability goals while enhancing the building’s value and occupant satisfaction.

Develop a comprehensive strategy for energy efficiency and sustainability, tailored to the specific needs of the building and stakeholders.

When should energy modelling start?

Engaging a dedicated energy modeler from the earliest stages of your building design maximizes the benefits they bring to the table. Early collaboration allows for the seamless integration of energy performance considerations right from the start, enabling the evaluation of different design options and the identification of opportunities for improvement. This holistic approach ensures that functionality, aesthetics, and cost are all taken into account.

Why Early Involvement Matters:

Holistic Integration: By involving an energy modeler early in the design process, energy performance becomes a fundamental part of the project rather than an afterthought. This integration helps in developing a building that is not only energy-efficient but also aligns with the overall design goals.

Optimal Design Decisions: Early collaboration allows for thorough analysis and simulation of various design scenarios. This helps in making informed decisions that optimize energy efficiency while balancing other critical factors such as occupant comfort and aesthetic appeal.

Cost-Effective Solutions: Identifying and implementing energy-saving measures early in the design process is far more cost-effective than making changes later. Early involvement ensures that the most impactful and cost-effective options are chosen when they are easiest to implement.

Avoiding Costly Late-Stage Changes:

Imagine uncovering significant cost-saving opportunities late in the design process. By that point, making design changes can be difficult, expensive, or even impossible due to advanced stages of planning and procurement. Engaging an energy modeler early prevents such scenarios, ensuring that all potential benefits are realized when they are most feasible and affordable to implement.

By bringing an energy modeler into the project from the outset, you set the stage for a building that excels in energy performance, sustainability, and cost-efficiency. This proactive approach not only enhances the value of the project but also contributes to a more sustainable future.


On your next project, consider how we SOLVE the problem of top class energy performance while your designers SOLVE the core design and engineering component of the project.

The benefits are many:

Lower capex, lower opex, lower carbon emissions, better building performance, enhanced user experience, better design outcomes, and many more.

Work with a speciaist energy modeller on your next project!