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Energy-Model

With a new year upon us, exciting times are ahead as we announce that IES will be sponsoring the Practitioner Modeling Competition which is being organized by the IBPSA-USA San Francisco Bay Area Chapter as part of Building Simulation 2017! The challenge, which is open to individual practitioners or teams, provides a competitive forum for non-student members of the building simulation community and aims to encourage wider participation in the conference.

This year’s competition requires entrants to use computer simulation to design and test a laboratory building with mixed uses including labs, offices and classroom spaces located in downtown San Francisco, CA, USA. You can download the competition brief here to find out more.

Not only will the winning entrant have the opportunity to showcase their submission at the Building Simulation conference, due to take place in San Francisco between 7-9 August 2017, we are pleased to confirm that the winning entry will also receive a cash prize of USD $1,500, courtesy of IES!

If you feel like giving it a go, interested candidates are invited to register before the deadline on 6th February 2017, with completed entries then due by 31st March 2017.

So, good luck to all you prospective entrants – we look forward to seeing the winning entry at BS2017 in August!

boston

This article was originally published in Building Services News Magazine. ‘Postcard from Abroad’ is a regular feature that highlights the experiences of graduate engineers from Ireland that have gone on to live and work abroad.

It is a pleasure to share my experiences abroad with you as a building services engineer who left Dublin in 2008. During the past seven years I’ve been working all over North America as a project manager and business development manager with Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd (IES).

Many of you will be familiar with IES Ltd and IESVE software, which is used in Ireland and the UK for building performance simulation and analysis of buildings. Typical applications for using IESVE software are often necessary for new construction projects in Ireland, e.g. Part L Compliance. However, things are quite different in North America.

I graduated from DIT Bolton Street’s building services engineering course in 2006 with a 1st Class Honours Degree having come up through the diploma courses which was hugely valuable to me, even today. White Young Green (WYG) were generous enough to give me a start as a graduate building services engineer in 2006 as I had also gained valuable work-experience during the previous summer with them.

IES opened an office in Dublin in 2007 and I was keen to join with such an innovative and ever-expanding company. At the official Dublin office opening I met Dr Don McLean (IES founder and CEO) and walked away inspired by his enthusiasm for making a difference in the world by way of sustainable building design through technology.

While working in the IES Dublin office I was fortunate to work on some great consulting projects for the Office of Public Works and a few international projects too in the UK, the US, Australia and the UAE. These international projects gave me an appreciation for building performance benchmarking under different codes and standards. I also began to understand what real sustainable design meant versus making design decisions simply to play the system, or simply in order to “get the certificate”.

At IES a huge portion of our activity is driven by various energy rating systems. In North America, those rating systems can often be voluntary (eg LEED) depending on the region or building owner. You need to know your IECC / ASHRAE Standards as much as the local rating systems. This complex challenge was one of the reasons I moved to work in the IES Boston office in 2008. Six years later, I would move west again.

Settling into life in Boston
I was lucky in three areas: visa, work and accommodation. First, if you move to the US to work (outside of a J1 student visa) you will likely need either an H-1 or L-1 visa, although there are other less common options. The L-1 visa is essentially an intra-company transfer, so IES were supportive of the move. With an H-1 you could be applying to a new company, so there’s a risk involved for the employer. The one thing they have in common is the profound stress involved.

Second, with my work at IES, it was somewhat “business-as-usual” and I was performing a similar role to the one I had in our Dublin office, plus I already knew my colleagues (we are a tight-knit group at IES). Third, IES were generous enough to have a furnished apartment for me to move into. The view from my roof deck included the Massachusetts State House, the Charles River and Boston Commons.

Boston itself is a fantastic city with a large and welcoming Irish community. It is also a huge sports-centric city and there is always a Boston-based team involved in some play-offs. There are legacy neighbourhoods — the Irish are in Southie, the Italians are in the North End, there’s a Polish neighbourhood and, as always, a Chinatown.

Working in Boston was not without its challenges. There were the dreaded IP units, which at the time felt like being forced to learn how to speak Latin… why, oh why, have you not evolved? The toughest challenge was trying to convince a design team to consider something like mixed-mode ventilation, which was strangely considered a new concept.

I was shocked to learn how conservatively the New England AEC industry perceived high-performance building design. I was yearning for an equivalent to the EU’s EPBD or Ireland’s Part L. Years later, my role has evolved to encompass a much bigger region and I’ve had a chance to see how other locations embrace high performance design.

My role in North America today
Today, my region is ‘North America’. I’m not trying to be vague; below are green pins for each place I commonly work…

North-America-Map

Yes, it is a massive geographical spread and involves a lot of travel, but that’s part of the business development challenge that IES has given me.

In my first six years in North America I was primarily focused on the East Coast, which I loved. I’ve had some interesting experiences along the way. For instance, one evening in Washington DC I went to see the White House and take in some US history. However, what I recall most clearly from that visit was looking up at one of the few snipers on the roof.

About 10 months ago I left Boston and moved west to the IES San Francisco office in order to support a new statewide compliance for building energy benchmarking. This time I moved with my girlfriend Alayne and dog Oscar. My work has mostly been focused on the west coast now, particularly in California.

The San Francisco Bay Area is still experiencing a huge tech-boom and there are constantly large volumes of people moving here. The apartment monthly rental costs are now $3,000- $5,000 (€2,750-€4,500). I feel sorry for the older locals of San Francisco who feel the artsy vibe to the city is now drowning with young techies.

It is a very different settling process on the West Coast. The time-zone difference to Ireland is now eight hours, there is a different culture to the harsh East Coast people and a different sense of humour. However, the AEC industry is an improvement. Sadly, 98% of California is currently categorised as being in “exceptional” drought, which is the worst level of drought and the worst in 163 years of record keeping.

You don’t need to convince anyone here about climate change. California has the most net-zero energy buildings in the US and there is a strict energy rating standard in place.

Earlier this year I was working with the US Navy in Honolulu. I took an opendoor helicopter tour over Pearl Harbour on my day off and got some excellent scenic photos. However, the ones that interested me most were of the endless rows of solar-panelled homes and buildings. In Hawaii, they pay $0.25- $0.33/kWh for electricity, so PV makes a lot of sense. Note: The US average is ~10-11cents/kWh. Just imagine being the odd-one-out in this neighbourhood.

Each place I go to is different and I’d sum up the US engineering culture as diverse and regional. In my day-to-day work I deal with various professionals including building physics engineers, architects, software developers, architectural engineers, contractors, energy modellers, mechanical engineers, and energy consultants. I also deal with lots of people involved in policy, from the Canadian Green Building Council to the California Energy Commission.

I’m very proud of my engineering background in Ireland and made sure to return to earn my Chartered Engineering status in 2010. I did a part-time Master’s degree in Brunel University in London during 2006-2009 but, if I’m honest, it didn’t compare to the education that DIT Bolton Street gave me.

For my B. Eng. Thesis I studied the effects of a below-ground thermal labyrinth. Then years later I was heavily involved in one for a hospital in Western Canada. Outdoor air is “bounced” through this below-ground maze, thus utilising the thermal storage of the soil and concrete to pre-heat the outdoor air in winter and pre-cool the outdoor air in summer. The tempered outdoor air is then fed into the back of two dedicated outdoor air system air handling units.

Something a lecturer in DIT, Chris Montague, said always stayed with me: “The design team won’t consider it if you don’t speak up and suggest it.” Thanks for that Chris!

My final thought
While I combine lessons from both my training in Ireland and experiences in North America, there are cases that aren’t comparable. There’s always room for comparing and contrasting the different approaches to environmental engineering and building services, and I would encourage everyone to take the differences into consideration in any decision to move abroad. Overall, I’m glad I made the move west just over seven years ago and I’m happy with the work I’m doing in the US. However, I never could have excelled as much without my training and encouragement from home and from IES.

Countdown to Greenbuild 2012

Posted: November 8, 2012 by , Category:events, Green Building, LEED

All it takes is a quick look on Twitter using the #Greenbuild hashtag to see that not only is this the biggest green building conference in the world, but it’s also the event that brings out the most passion and creativity from within our industry.

If the green building industry had an Olympics; it would be Greenbuild. If we had a Woodstock; it would be Greenbuild. If we had a Cannes; it would be… ok I’ll stop now, you get the idea.

There is a lot going on every year at Greenbuild and this year is no exception. To find out what was planned for San Francisco and to get involved in the pre-Greenbuild conversation, we decided to create our “DaysToGB” twitter hashtag. Starting on October 14th, we’ve been using the hashtag to countdown the 30 days leading up to the main event next week.

But what have we learned counting down the days to Greenbuild? Quite a lot actually! We know the USGBC is coming full circle by heading back to its roots in San Fran and it’s an ideal location as it’s a city with green building high on the agenda. We’ve learned that attendees are spoiled for choice for what they can do with any spare time they can grab (film festival, walking tours etc), and also that this year’s event has more fantastic seminars and presentations then you could shake a stick at!

We’ve also been using #DaysToGB to share what IES have planned over the course of the conference. At booth #1732S, we’ll be sharing our recent innovations and developments which significantly help streamline and assist the LEED certification process. As a USGBC LEED Automation partner, we’ll be launching our new online LEED project management software and showcasing our software solutions for automated LEED performance credit assessments and sophisticated LEED Energy Modeling.

Our IES experts are also taking part in a number of educational presentations throughout the week; you should have at least one logged in your diary:

IS04A – Removing Barriers for International LEED Projects {Tues 13th Nov}
B06 – Energy Monitoring that Provides Meaningful Data AND Value {Wed 14th Nov}
LEED Automation Partner Presentation {Wed 14th Nov}
D13 – The Ghosts of Climate Past, Present, and Future {Thurs 15th Nov}

You can click here if you would like full details on the above sessions.

So what have you got planned for Greenbuild? There’s still time to tell us using the #DaysToGB hashtag or alternatively you can comment below.

6 #DaysToGB

More efficient buildings vs. more efficient utilities — this is what we are seeing recently between New York and San Francisco. The west coast is moving forward with a bill that could require utilities to invest in energy storage systems. The purpose is to help grow the use of solar and wind power within the state. On the other side of the U.S. the first PlaNYC benchmarking report has been released. These reports will serve as a foundation for increasing building efficiency from year to year. Two different solutions are being implemented to achieve the same goal of handling peak demand or when energy demand is at its highest. Produce more energy or consume less energy?

The potential mandate for utilities to require energy storage in California would help overcome some of the obstacles we face when using wind and solar power. Unfortunately, fossil fuels can be stored and provide a constant stream of power, the same cannot be said for renewable energy. Energy storage could take this advantage away from fossil fuels. A steady stream of renewable power would result in a grid that can handle the peak demand hours of the day. Downside? This is going to take a

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major amount of money in investments by utility companies. Who do you think is going to end up paying for it? The cost is going to be passed along to the low man on the totem pole, meaning the end user. But if this works the investment now might be minimal compared to the benefits we could experience in the future.

Although California’s plan is not perfect, neither is New York’s. The data that was collected through a 2009 ordinance, and just released, shows high amounts of variations. Feedback on the program is that when providing data some of the categories are hard to define. People either include unnecessary data or leave out data that they should be including. What this program does do is provide a set of data to benchmark against and track progress, even if it is not 100 percent accurate. The theory is – what gets measured gets done. If you want to see real changes you need to start measuring. It’s like when you were back in middle school if you knew an assignment wasn’t going to get graded, how much effort did you really put into it? The same principle is what makes energy modeling so important. Instead of supplying more power to meet peak demand, New York is trying to make buildings more efficient and reduce the demand on the power grid.

Both ideas reduce the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, provide a solution to meet high demand, and reduce the overall burden on the power grid. Two different coasts have two different schools of thought. Which do you think is the more effective path? Ultimately it’s going to take a combination of ideas and solutions to meet our future demand.

Earlier this year, the Cleantech Group declared San Francisco the Cleantech capital of North America. From Mayor Ed Lee to the government to the 815,000 citizens, San Francisco has embraced cleantech and green technology as a lifestyle — not just a fad.

It’s pretty impressive that San Francisco raised more cleantech venture investment than New York City, despite having a population that is 8 times smaller. San Francisco has established itself as the go-to place for cleantech companies and investors, with more than 208 calling the city by the Bay home.

Much of the credit should go to the local government. San Francisco helped the cleantech industry thrive by supporting the Clean Technology Payroll Tax Incentive, which granted 10 years of payroll tax exemption to cleantech companies. This incentive helped create jobs and support further growth of the cleantech industry within the city.

But San Francisco doesn’t only support cleantech through its local economy — it also practices what it preaches. Evidence of this is in its buildings. San Francisco has been proactive in setting an example for sustainable building by implementing green building standards in its required building code. In 2008, the Green Building Ordinance Chapter 13C went into effect. This ordinance is based on elements of the USGBC’s LEED rating system. The city has embraced modeling technology to maximize energy efficiency in order to meet these new mandatory building codes in many of its buildings. This might give San Francisco an edge for years to come based on studies that point to green buildings boosting worker productivity and happiness.

San Francisco’s emphasis on cleantech has spread throughout the state of California. California accounted for the most cleantech patent registrations out of all 50 states. According to Next 10’s 2012 California Green Innovation Index, due to energy efficiency efforts, per capita electricity consumption in California remains close to 1990 levels.

This is great news for the green building industry. Energy modeling not only can help a building owner’s bottom line but better the lives of the workers in the building. California didn’t stumble into maintaining its per capita electricity consumption, it took careful planning. Moving forward more cities can utilize energy modeling to apply the same concepts to their buildings and cities that has made San Francisco so successful.

San Francisco looks set to continue its reign as cleantech capital of North America. Through its building practices and investment in cleantech, it’s head and shoulders above the competition.

The Greenest City in America!

Posted: July 14, 2011 by , Category:Environment, Sustainability

We’re proud to call San Francisco home to one of our North American offices. We’ve always loved the unique architecture and the unparalleled atmosphere of the city by the Bay.

But now there’s another reason for us to love this city a little more. San Francisco has been named the ‘greenest city in America‘ by the Economist Intelligence Unit as part of the ongoing Green Cities Index research project.

The chart below shows the areas in which the 27 cities were evaluated.

Looking at the various facets these cities were judged on, I can’t help but smile. Every day, I work with companies to help design low-energy, high performance buildings utilizing our performance analysis products. To see that it’s making a difference in the output of large commercial buildings in some of the greatest cities in this country makes me realize that what we are doing is not just about designing buildings to be pretty. It’s about reducing energy consumption and making buildings as efficient as possible for the long haul. Large commercial buildings in these cities are going to be around for many, many years to come, and it’s our goal to build them to not only last that long, but to be icons of the future of building.

This is an exciting time for our industry! We can’t wait to see all the cities on the list (and more) with scores in the 80s.

If you’re interested in all the specifics, the full report can be downloaded here.

 

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