by Anh Son Ngo / 4 minutes read

Can Healthcare Facilities Reduce Energy Use By Energy Models?

What is Energy Modeling?

Energy modeling, or energy system modeling, is the process of creating a computer model of an energy system in order to analyze it. Such models often use scenario analysis to explore different assumptions about technical and economic conditions. Results may include system feasibility, greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative financial costs, natural resource use, and energy efficiency of the system under study. A wide range of techniques is used, from general economic to general technical. Mathematical optimization is often used to determine the minimum cost in some sense. Models can be international, regional, national, local, or standalone. Governments maintain national energy models for the formulation of energy policies.

What is energy modeling? (Source: Internet)
What is energy modeling? (Source: Internet)

How Can Energy Models Help Healthcare Facilities Reduce Energy Use?

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are notorious energy consumers due to the large amount of outside air required for ventilation and air exchange rates, the need to cool or heat rooms above normal conditions for various medical procedures, and due to the fact that many of these facilities operate continuously with little or no downtime. Energy costs have forced healthcare organizations to take a closer look at their energy use, particularly on new construction projects. Energy modeling integrated with BIM can help building owners make decisions about how to spend project budgets to improve the sustainability and energy efficiency of their facilities.

BIM allows you to model and coordinate with the entire design team the different materials used in the building envelope, as well as the orientation of the building. Energy modeling gives the entire project team, especially when using an integrated design process, the ability to select and optimize building systems for maximum performance, allowing the owner to make better design decisions and be more informed.

By integrating BIM and energy modeling with software like IESV, building owners, architects, and engineers can better understand how a building's architecture directly impacts MEP systems and identify opportunities to optimize architectures and construction systems. For example, design teams and builders can model changes to insulation, glazing, or other materials in the building envelope and assess their impact.

By modeling the different types of materials that make up the building skin, the design team can determine the impact of each material on the building's heating and cooling needs and work with the building owner to justify the additional costs. Different types of glazing can be modeled to evaluate how different R-values and solar heat gain coefficients affect interior heating and cooling loads. Similarly, different building insulation materials can be modeled and their effect on the heating and cooling loads of the building can be evaluated. Better glass, insulation, or casing can have a higher initial cost. The question is whether the reduction in heating and cooling loads justifies the investment.

Helping healthcare facilities reduce energy use is important (Source: Internet)
Helping healthcare facilities reduce energy use is important (Source: Internet)

BIM and energy modeling can evaluate more than just the building envelope. The direction of the institution can also be evaluated. Building orientation also affects heating and cooling loads. Large glazed building surfaces can be modeled to see how the heating and cooling loads of the building are affected. It may be necessary to move these surfaces to other areas of the building to limit summer radiant heat or maximize winter radiant heat. Architecturally, the facade of the building may not change, but evaluation using BIM and energy modeling may indicate whether shading or other measures are beneficial. Quantifying the effectiveness of umbrellas and other sun-restricting devices can help determine whether additional investments are justified.

Modeling building orientation and different glazing options can also help with lighting design. Areas that receive a lot of light during the day can be darkened at certain times of the day. It utilizes the dimming capabilities of LED lighting to harness sunlight to improve patient mood and promote healing and requires only a small investment in lighting control.

Energy models do help healthcare facilities reduce energy use

The exchange of air inside and outside the hospital for different purposes such as heating, cooling or ventilation always consumes a lot of energy. And the application of models to optimize energy is extremely necessary. Above are all energy models that can help healthcare facilities reduce energy use.

By combining energy models with BIM, designers and FMs can make more informed decisions, better evaluate design trade-offs, and find the most energy-efficient solutions.

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By combining energy models with BIM, designers and FMs can make more informed decisions, better evaluate design trade-offs, and find the most energy-efficient solutions. 

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Anh Son Ngo

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