Energy Model Input Resources

Custom inputs, custom building type, lighting power density, appliance power density, unique projects, custom projects

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago
Types of Buildings in Civil Engineering (16 Different Types)

Building Type is the highest level description of what activities occur within the walls of the project. On the cove.tool platform there are eight building types to chose from. This allows projects to be created quickly with helpful default values for everything from the number of occupants to the HVAC system. There are of course many more types of buildings out there, Architecture 2030 and Energy Star are two organizations that help define many more activities.

Modeling a project of any building type is possible on the platform, to help there are several custom templates already created. If your project doesn't match one of these templates, don't worry! We've put together the following resources to help teams learn more about any specific building type and populate correct inputs into the energy model. These are the same resources the engineers, architects, and building scientists here at cove.tool use to help populate the automated inputs on the platform.

Which inputs will define my custom building type?

The inputs into an energy model that define the building type are all captures on the Usage and Schedule, Building System, and General tab of the Baseline Energy Model. Envelope is not part of the building type as it is determined by location and energy code, not impacted by the activity within. Energy Generation is also not part of the activity of a project and is left out of this guide.

Resources for Lighting

Lighting of a building is defined as the lighting power density (LPD). Most energy codes globally will include a maximum LPD that projects of specific types are allowed to follow.

  • In the USA, ASHRAE Standard 90.1 Section 9 includes both space-by-space and building area type lighting power density.

  • On the design team the electrical engineer and/or lighting designer will have information on the expected or designed LPD

On the baseline page input the lighting power density into the Lighting field. For the Lighting (Unoccu. Hrs) field this is typically 10% of the maximum.

Resources for Appliance / Equipment

Appliance/Equipment power density is more difficult to define because energy codes do not typically specify limits on power used within the building. Engineers rely on empirical data for a wide range of office, kitchen, medical and other equipment that is documented in various standards and handbooks.

  • ASHRAE Handbook - Fundamentals: Chapter 18 includes a wide range of equipment power data.

  • The US Department of Energy has created several reference models for various building types and provide all details about those models here. Appendix A has reference for equipment power densities

  • In the UK, CIBSE Guides provides helpful information on the internal power used by equipment.

  • On the design team the mechanical engineer will have information on the expected equipment power density for your specific project.

On the baseline page input the equipment power density into Appliance Use field. For the Appliance Use (Unoccu.), this will be the expected power used by equipment that is always on like refrigerators or servers. A fair assumption will be 15% of the maximum.

Resources for the number of occupants

The total number of occupants in a building is dependent on the size and an occupant density. For commercial buildings like offices this is closely related to the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) planned.

  • ASHRAE Standard 62.1 provides a large list of building types and recommended occupant densities. If using this method be sure to multiple the occupant density (occupant per area) by the area of the project to generate the total occupants.

  • For some projects the desired number of occupants may be defined by the owner in the Project Brief or Request for Proposal.

On the baseline page input the total occupants into Total Occupants (Occupied Hours) field. The Total Occupants (Unoccupied Hours) field will be the occupants expected to be in the building during off hours. For commercial buildings this may only be security staff so very low, for educational facilities this can be higher as students will hold odd hours. A value here of 2%-5% is a fair assumption if no other information is available.

Resources for occupant activities

People within a building give off different amounts of heat (which HVAC systems must address) based on their activity.

On the baseline page this is defined by the Metabolic Rate (MET Value) field. Options along with guidance on the inputs are defined here.

One note is this value should represent the majority of occupants in the building. For example for a stadium while the players could be described with the Sports activity, the majority of occupants (audience) are all seated.

Resources for building schedules

Occupancy Schedules define when a building is actively in use. For an office this may simply be 9 to 5. For other buildings types like manufacturing or healthcare this may be close to 24 hours a day. Assigning an accurate schedule to the building is important to the yearly energy use calculations.

  • Building Schedules may be provided by the owner in the Project Brief or Request for Proposal of the project.

  • ASHRAE Standard 90.1 User Manual includes several typical schedules of various building types that can be used as a guide.

  • The US Department of Energy has created several reference models for various building types and provide all details about those models here. Schedules for each of these buildings are included.

On the baseline page enter the schedule into the Occupancy Schedule on the right hand side. For details on these inputs refer to the calculation method and input guide.

Resources for building systems

The buildings systems for a project requires many inputs into an energy model, luckily many of these inputs are automated! There are several considerations when selecting a projects mechanical systems type, as such the final selection must be carried about by a licensed mechanical engineer. When creating a model of a custom building type the cove.tool highly recommends using the collaborations tools to include the projects mechanical engineer on this important aspect of the design.

To help teams ahead of connecting with a mechanical engineer here is a list of generalized building uses and recommended Buildings Systems.

When selecting the building system, be sure to consider the source for heating and cooling. When in doubt, always refer back to the project's mechanical engineer.

Update the 2030 Building Type

On the general tab updating the 2030 Building Type field will update the projects benchmark information. This is very helpful to check that you're model is within the expected ranges of the type of project you are working on.

Additional Resources

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