Manufacturing Plants

Information on Manufacturing Plants and modeling them within cove.tool

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago

Manufacturing buildings present a unique challenge for energy modeling because the energy use is so tightly connected with the specific manufacturing process being undertaken. Energy Star recognizes this challenge and provides an alternative means to study the performance of manufacturing plants, via an Energy Performance Indicator (EPI). These EPI are specific to the type of manufacturing being undertaken, for example for an automobile assembly plant, the EPI is energy per vehicle. For more information on EPI and Energy Star's resources for understanding manufacturing plant energy use see this article.

EnergyStar EPI's are currently available for the following manufacturing plant types:

Aluminum Casting Plant

Automobile Assembly

Automobile Engine Plant

Automobile Transmission Plant

Cement Manufacturing Plant

Commercial Bread and Roll Bakery

Container Glass Manufacturing

Cookie and Craker Bakery

Flat Glass Manufacturing

Fluid Milk Processing

Frozen Fried Potato Processing

Integrated Paper and Paperboard Manufacturing

Integrated Steel Plant

Iron Casting Plant

Juice Processing

Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plant

Pulp Mill

Wet Corn Mill

Benchmarking in the form of EUI (used in cove.tool) is not widely available for manufacturing plants. This building type is not present in the CBEC data or Energy Star's Portfolio Manager. In order to correctly model the unique aspects of your specific manufacturing plant it is highly recommended to involve the entire design team including the mechanical engineers and owner. Doing this is easy with the Manage Team feature. To help further explore the Industrial Plants area of Energy Star's website which has a wide range of information and tools to help reduce energy use in a manufacturing plant.

Modeling a Manufacturing Plant is possible via cove.tool. Many of the inputs will need to be agreed amongst the design team using past experience and information about the specific design being undertaken. Following is a step-by-step process for setting up a model as a manufacturing plant. There is also the option to make this a template for future use within your firm.

Step 1: Set up a new project

Set the ‘Project Name’ as the intended building use type and select one of the current building type templates, which will be used as a starting point. This type will provide the default values that will later be customized and is helpful if it is close to the type of building you are customizing to. For a manufacturing plant starting with a Lab or Retail type works well. As manufacturing plants often have offices attached, it can be helpful to model this portion directly via the Mixed-Use type method.

Optionally, check the box below the Energy Code to make the project a template for firm-wide use (highlighted in red in the image below). Set your location for this project type and make sure the energy code reflects what the project is following. The default current energy code for your location is likely what you want to keep.


Setup your geometry as needed for your project. If creating a firmwide template, the exact geometry will be changed for future projects, so we can keep things simple and use the Manual Mode inputs. For more information on entering geometry into Manual Mode see this article.

Step 2: Edit template name

Once you've navigated to the Baseline page modify the Building Type name in tab that started as Retail. This will help you and others looking to understand the intended use.

Step 3: Edit Envelope Inputs

The envelope of our plant is defined on the first tab of the baseline page. The default values presented are based on predefined building construction types, for example, walls are defined as 'Steel Framed.' If the manufacturing plant will be made of different construction types these inputs should be updated. This tab is best populated by the architect or envelope/facade consultant. For more information on the default values within cove.tool refer to our input articles.

One common aspect of a manufacturing plant is to have different wall types for the lower portion and high by the portion of the building. These hybrid wall assemblies can be accommodated in cove.tool via an Area Weighted Average method.

Step 4: Edit Usage and Schedule Inputs

The lighting, appliance use, temperature setpoints and occupancy will vary depending on the type of manufacturing process. It is important to work closely with the mechanical engineer and owner to understand how to best translate what is occurring in the building into these inputs. For light assembly, the appliance use could be a low value around 1 w/sf. However, for heavy industry, this value can easily be 10x as high.

The schedule for the building is also input on this tab. The schedule should reflect the actual operation of the manufacturing plant, which will range depending on the owner's requirements. For example, a manufacturing plant operating with three shifts Monday to Friday might have a schedule that looks something like this.

The total hours of operation will have a large impact on the building EUI, so it is critical to model with a schedule that closely matches planned operation.

Step 5: Select the right Building System

The building system defined on this tab determines how the spaces of the manufacturing plant are conditioned. Note, this system is not connected to any specific process related to the manufacturing being undertaken. If there are specific systems feeding into the manufacturing process, these should be estimated separately.

Typical Building Systems for a manufacturing plant are PTAC or PSV which can be modeled in cove.tool as any of the 'Single Zone' systems with the corresponding heating and cooling system is used. If specific airflows are required, these are the best input as the Area Outdoor Air Rate (CFM/sf) on this tab. This tab is best filled out by the professional engineer leading the project.

Step 6: Select correct Typology

Because manufacturing is not a defined type in the CBEC database of buildings there is no corresponding 2030 building type to control the benchmarking reported. It is best to refer to Energy Star for industry-specific benchmarking information. For a full list of the app's building type options, definitions, and further explanations check out this article.

Following these steps and working closely with the project team will produce a reasonable baseline for a manufacturing project. Once the baseline is determined you can start exploring ways of improving either by looking at specifics through the baseline page or go to optimization to see holistic ways to save energy and cost!

Related Articles:

Did this answer your question?