The Integrated Design Process (IDP) is a popular approach to high performance building design that involves an intensive group meeting to explore various design options.  The group consists of a diverse set of design professionals, administrators, consultants, and other stakeholders, all working collaboratively to achieve specific design goals.  The IDP (sometimes known as a design charrette) is intended to help project teams identify opportunities and challenges early in the design process, and to avoid expensive errors and design changes.

Energy modelling is an excellent addition to the IDP for design teams seeking to reduce building energy consumption and costs.  Energy modelling can estimate the annual energy costs of a particular building design, and can be used to assess the energy impacts of proposed design modifications in real-time during the charrette.  This allows architects, mechanical designers, and electrical designers to weigh the cost of a particular change against the anticipated energy savings.

Prior to the charrette, the energy modeller receives the basic information (e.g. floor plan sketch, draft mechanical and electrical design briefs etc…) needed to formulate a preliminary model of the proposed building.  Setting the preliminary design equal to the minimum energy efficiency standards of the local building code may also be a logical starting point.  During the charrette, the energy modeller simulates proposed Energy Saving Measures (ESMs) like increased wall insulation, improved windows, or reduced lighting power, and estimates annual energy cost savings for each.  If cost estimators are part of the charrette, simple paybacks for each ESM can be calculated on the spot, and the “low-hanging fruit” ESMs can be identified immediately.

Energy modelling services add value to the IDP and will help project teams identify cost-effective options for achieving energy cost reductions.  If your project requires energy modelling for LEED or Ontario Building Code compliance purposes, consider involving the modeller earlier in the design process to reap the full benefit of the energy modelling service.