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Building tuning has long been recognised as a critical method for improving the performance of existing buildings. However estimating the potential benefits of HVAC control adjustments can be difficult if you don’t have the right building simulation technology.

A paper written by Dr Paul Bannister and Hongsen Zhang of Energy Action Pty Ltd (incorporating Energy Australia Pty Ltd), was recently published in Ecolibrium, the official journal of AIRAH. The paper named ‘What simulation can tell us about building tuning’ investigates how by using the IESVE, it is possible to test a number of common tuning strategies to determine their effectiveness in achieving energy savings.

Using an IES Simulation Model, the impacts of a number of common control algorithm adjustments were assessed, including dead-band adjustments for VAV terminals, fan control and supply-air temperature control, economy cycle and minimum outside air control. Results are repeated for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Darwin to show the way energy impacts change with climate.

The Base case is a typical Australian commercial building with a conventional well-designed VAV HVAC system. The VAV configuration represents the most common building servicing type for medium to large buildings in Australia.

Combined scenarios with common failures or improvements are used to show that the difference between best practice and poor control can range as high as 90 percent, demonstrating the fundamental importance of control. Sensitivity to control is considerably greater in milder climates.

Click here to read the full paper.

Breakfast with the Don

Posted: October 31, 2012 by , Category:events

As part of his world tour, Don McLean (our founder and CEO) is heading to Australia. I’m pretty jealous as the weather there is a lot warmer than here in Scotland with the winter starting to kick in!! Anyway, he won’t have time to be soaking up

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the rays, since he’ll be hosting a series of breakfast briefings across the country:

Brisbane on Monday 19th November
Sydney on Wednesday 21st November
Melbourne on Friday 23rd November
Perth on Tuesday 27th November

Along with a free breakfast, by attending these events you will get the

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unique opportunity of a presentation on our new products and services, from LCA to enhanced model calibration and model optimisation as well as recent developments and planned 2013 developments.

Additionally, he will talk about the IES Hub and the R&D developments which include:

VE-SCAN — Predictive data analytics to cut energy use and costs across the building portfolios
THERM — Integrated manufacturing and buildings sustainably
Vectorworks — The collaborate and exchange model and data with other project members within an Open BIM approach via IFC
TaP — Online Project Management tool for environmental assessment projects
OPTIMISE — Simulation based optimisation tool for minimisation of building carbon emissions
IMPACT — Integrated material profile and costing tool
Daikin — VRV Systems Plug-in
Monodraught – Windcatcher performance component library

If you want to know a little more about these products prior to the breakfast briefing, feel free to click on the links above.

After Don’s presentation, you will get the chance to ask him questions and get an insight into the exciting new developments that are taking place at IES (straight from the Don!)

As I said, it’s free, it starts at 8 am and finishes at approximately 10 am.

Signing up is easy. Just click on the date that you would like to participate and fill out the form. If I had the chance, I know I’d be there!

Conference recap – Building Simulation 2011

Posted: November 23, 2011 by , Category:events

Last week, we headed to the land down under for the 12th International Conference of the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA). From November 14th to 16th in Sydney, Australia, simulation researchers, mechanical designers, government legislators and more came together with the local simulation user community for Building Simulation 2011, co-hosted by IBPSA Australasia and the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH).

At the conference, we showcased and provided live software demos of VE-Pro, our suite of building performance simulation tools, and VE-Gaia, our architectural analysis tool. Our experts also had the opportunity to present a couple of research papers, one of which involved a case study of the William McCormack Place Stage 2 building, a government office building in Cairns, North Queensland. This paper explored key strategies used in the HVAC systems and discussed the thermal and CFD modeling involved during the earliest stages of the building design to optimize the building’s environmental performance.

The second paper we presented described two new indices to assess and benchmark building energy performance — the Climate Energy Index (CEI) and the Building Energy Index (BEI). In a nutshell, these globally-applicable energy indices were developed as a means of quantifying the climate impact on building energy performance, and distinguishing climate-related and climate-unrelated energy end uses. Our paper specifically described the derivation of the indices calculation methods, and presented some case study results based on two types of building models.

Overall, our team had a great time at the show meeting with others involved in the building performance simulation field. Regarding the papers we presented, they will be available on our website shortly — stay tuned!

Image Credit *Sally M* Under Creative Commons

IES runs a Cycle to Work scheme, I have taken the opportunity to buy two bikes through the scheme and I now cycle to work pretty much every day. After getting hit riding to work on my bike by a white van the one thing that pretty much everyone asked me is why don’t you wear a helmet.

The website http://cyclehelmets.org/ gives some good information on the helmet use for cycling. The data in this blog is taken from that website.

People’s view on the relative risk of cycling is far off the mark. It is viewed as very risky to mix bicycles with motor vehicles but the data shows a different story.

Data giving risk relative to cycling based on fatality rates per participant in the UK shows perhaps unsurprisingly that you are you are 137 times as likely to die climbing as cycling. Horse riding is also more risky, you are 29 times more likely to die. More surprising though is the risk of tennis and football. You are 4.2 times as likely to die playing tennis as cycling, for football the figure is 4.9 times. Golf is safer though, only 0.83 times as likely to die as compared to cycling.

In the US there has been studies done on risk per time doing an activity which shows that you get 0.26 fatalities per million hours of cycling. As my commute is about 1hour a day I reckon it will take a while for me to reach a million hours of cycling.

Fatalities per million hours for other activities run at:
0.027 fatalities per million hours of living at home
0.15 fatalities per million hours of flying
0.26 fatalities per million hours of cycling
0.47 fatalities per million hours of passenger car use
1.07 fatalities per million hours of swimming
1.53 fatalities per million hours of living (all causes of death)
8.8 fatalities per million hours of on-road motorcycling
128.71 fatalities per million hours of sky diving

So cycling is 10 times more dangerous than being in your own home but it is 6 times safer than what people do with their time on average. That sounds to me as if cycling is not dangerous at all.

The department of health have some statistics for the amount of head injuries for hospital admission the 2002/2003 period.

Proportion of all injuries that involve head injury:
All causes: 34.2%
Cyclists: 37.6%
Pedestrians: 43.7%
So cyclists being admitted to hospital are only slightly more at risk of a head injury than the average of all accidents and less likely to have a head injury than pedestrians.

The Highway Code in the UK advises the use of helmets without making it a law. There is much debate with many non-cyclists to make helmet use law but I feel this would be a mistake. In countries where helmet use is made law there has been a drop off in the number of people cycling. Western Australia saw a 26% to 38% drop in overall cycle use but in children this rose to more than a 50% drop. British Columbia in Canada saw a 28% drop in cycle use after their cycle helmet law was introduced. Melbourne, Australia has invested in a bike hire scheme as Paris and London have done. In Melbourne the bicycles lie in their dock stations unhired because of the helmet laws. Who is going to carry a helmet with them just in case they want to hire one of the cities bicycles? The only other option is to wheel the hired bike to a cycle shop to purchase a helmet.

By the way when I got hit by the van I didn’t hit my head. My ribs were hurt though. Plus helmets ruin my hairdo. I rest my case 😉

For more blogs on cycling laws see Treehugger and for more on this debate see Planet Green.


Posted: September 18, 2009 by , Category:Building Regulations, software, Sustainability

In this week’s blog I’d like to focus in on the potential of using the earth as an energy resource for buildings. In particular I’d like to look at the idea of incorporating underground labyrinths in a building’s design. These underground labyrinths are a type of thermal mass energy storage system and are not a new idea by any means but the use of the earth as an energy resource does tend to be overlooked.

Nature has used the earth as a way of creating a comfortable living environment even in the most severe external environment. For example the Barossa Termite, the great engineers that they are, build massive structures with fully integrated passive temperature control. So much so that they control the environment in which they live to within 1ºC throughout the year.

They use the mechanisms of thermal mass and evaporation in the main to control the temperature within their living environment. They construct underground chambers through which the outside air is drawn. This underground chamber is constructed to have a large surface area with the ground which cools the air on a hot day and warms it on a cool day. Even when this engineering marvel is exposed to extremely hot conditions the termites adapt and make the journey tens of metres down tunnels they have created to get to the water table to collect small quantities of water and bring them back up to place into the system. In this way they are supplementing the basic thermal mass idea with evaporative cooling. Clever eh…

These basic physical principles are transferable to model contemporary building design and can be effective when well thought out in reducing both energy consumption and peak demands on infrastructure which we here at IES get a real kick out of.

Although the thermal flywheel (room coupled thermal mass) which can be modelled very successfully in the software produced by IES is being worked into building design more and more in the UK the potential for heat exchange with the ground through large concrete heat stores which are commonly called labyrinths is rarely utilised in the UK. In Australia where I was based for the last 10 out of the last 12 months this idea is used with good effect.

In Melbourne where we (IES) have based our Australian office there is a great example right in the heart of the city of a labyrinth air system being incorporated into building design. It is at Federation Square and is used to supply air to the atrium like street associated with the Museum and when cooling is not needed in the atrium air is diverted to serve the galleries in the museum itself.

The labyrinth was formed from rippled concrete walls which were used to construct long air paths for the air to flow down.
During the day in Melbourne the external temperature can go over 40ºC in summer but at night the external temperature gets cool. This allows the thermal mass of the labyrinth to absorb the heat of the day and the cool air of the night purges the structure of heat and leaves the thermal mass of the labyrinth cool for the following day. The Barossa termites referred to earlier have inspired a system of evaporative cooling using stored rainwater to be incorporated into the labyrinth design.

The use of advanced dynamic thermal simulation modelling, which the IES Pro suite does so well, demonstrated the temperature benefits of the techniques in place at Federation Square. The design has proved to be very successful keeping the Atrium space at comfortable temperatures even when the temperature outside is at its most extreme, eliminating the need for mechanical cooling which has saved significant running cost. In the winter the labyrinth mass storage system also provides some heat energy to the atrium space.

Till next time,

Based upon my experience and the comments of a number of our more experienced customers I believe Version 6 is about to revolutionise the way performance assessment is conducted as part of the sustainable design process.

For IES this is a seminal moment, so you’ll have to excuse us for blowing our own bagpipes! In the future, I believe, IES staff, and many of our users, will refer back to Version 6 as the start of a major breakthrough in climate change mitigation. So what’s so special you might you ask?

I’ve been out in the field (some of you may have seen my Tweets) over the last two months performing a large number of demos across the globe. In the last eight weeks I have demoed Version 6 in the US, UK, UAE, Hong Kong and Australia. In total 59 demos and 4 seminars!

When comparing notes with my colleagues (who’ve also been busy demoing V6 throughout the world), the common response has been: Wow! V6 is really impressive!

We’ve received comments such as: ‘This is important for the whole Middle East region’, ‘VE-Gaia is brilliant it will change the way we can do sustainable design — when can we get it’, ‘This ticks all the boxes’, ‘We wanted about 10 new features and you showed them all and more — Multiplexing is brilliant.’

Current and potential VE users clearly see the commercial benefits of Version 6 in terms of marketing differentiation, technical advantage and productivity. These are all important considerations, particularly in today’s economic climate.

The stage is set — all indications are that V6 will positively impact on Architects, Engineers and Clients throughout the world. This impact will hopefully be such that words like VE-Gaia; Multiplexing and Workflow Navigators will become common terminology in the construction industry in a relatively short timescale. Is this big headed? Perhaps so, or perhaps not… job ads here in the UK already refer to ‘VE Engineers’ and ‘IES experience required’!

If you’ve not seen Version 6 yet then have a look at our website and press releases to find out more. Or register online for a web demo or free trial.

Cya Don

Comments Comments Off on Version 6 of the Virtual Environment – the game changer!!

Environmental Building in Australia

Posted: July 29, 2009 by , Category:Sustainability

We all know that buildings are responsible for most of our water consumption and more than their fair share of carbon dioxide emissions, in fact Australian’s have the 4th highest carbon footprint. So just what is Australia doing about it? Well quite a bit actually.

The New Labour Government (ALP) have been in power since November 2007, and within weeks of entering office had pushed forward with ratifying Kyoto and setting up an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The ETS has unfortunately been delayed due to the current global financial crisis but it targets a 25% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020, equivalent to stabilising levels of CO2‚ to 450 ppm. Permits are set to start at $10 a tonne with market trading to begin in 2012. In essence the Australian government is keen to mandate green

Australia lags the UK and US in terms of its green building initiatives, but momentum is growing especially within the property industry which is keen to future-proof its assests. Many of the industry’s leading building owners, investors and developers have signed up to the Green Star Business Partnership and pledged their support to adopting this rating system. These include ASX 200 firms like Lend Lease, Stockland and Multiplex.

A building’s performance is measured using a number of regulatory and voluntary schemes in Australia; like Green Star, Nabers, BCA Part J, and Nathers etc. As in the US, there is a large variation in climate types across Australia; from mild temperate to tropical. This means sustainable solutions and techniques to improve building performance and ratings need to be varied and well understood. For example, Canberra has a large diurnal range and is therefore more suited to passive solar and thermal mass, whereas Queensland may find systems to combat large latent gains and control of humidity more important.

IES has had a presence in Australia since 2006. Our consulting services and <Virtual Environment> software, with its powerful analysis capacity, has helped many in Australia deliver more energy efficient, better performing and future-proofed buildings. We’ve worked on 6 Star Green Star projects such as the refurbishment of the new AEI HQ in Canberra, and share a growing sense or pride and responsibility with Australia’s burgeoning green building industry.

Last month the company’s founder and MD, Dr Don McLean visted us here in Australia and we went on a roadtrip across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – 3 seminars to 80+ people and 17 face-to-face meetings in 3 days!!! Australia’s M&E Engineers, are the best in the world, and it was great to receive such positive feedback from them on the new HVAC features in the latest version of our software (V6). Comments like “we’ve been using IES for 4-5 years now and it just gets better and better!” were music to our ears, making all the hard work worth while!

Our other architect orientated new additions were also met a very positive response – one customer commented; “I don’t believe you can do that by pressing one button”…the button was pressed…”Wow you can! Brilliant!”

I can’t wait to see what the next 3 years bring – it’s definitely very exciting times…


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