In this post we explore how a range of professionals will be able to apply our platform to strengthen their business, including energy auditors, architects, builders and energy saving product providers.
Energy auditors and building performance assessors
While we've made every effort to empower households with our consumer product, individuals typically lack the training and equipment to perform a professional-grade audit. For instance, a professional energy auditor can more accurately estimate the 'leakiness' or infiltration rate of a building or the rating of existing insulation, and therefore assess if additional draught-proofing or insulation is justified. They also have the skills to analyse the operation of HVAC and water heating equipment, and therefore to identify the unique tuning improvements available to a particular property.
For these reasons there is often a regulatory requirement for energy audits to be performed by an accredited professional. For instance, in many juristictions it is a mandatory requirement that any new building firstly be assessed to ensure it meets minimum performance standards. In other jurisdictions, the performance of the building needs to also be assessed whenever the building is renovated or if the property changes hands (this is often called 'mandatory disclosure'). This typically involves a walk-through audit or plan review by an accredited assessor who will then manually enter the geometry and specifications of the building into a desktop rating tool, run any necessary simulations and then generate a certificate of compliance. This whole process typically takes around a day to perform on conventional desktop simulation tools and typically excludes an estimate of the payback periods of going beyond compliance.
We think our platform could dramatically reduce the required time and cost to perform energy audits and enable a complete electronic report to be sent to the customer before leaving the property. We also believe we can dramatically reduce the costs of regulatory approval processes, while providing a compelling business case for deeper energy efficiency improvements.
Architects and building designers
Architects have to balance a wide range of design considerations to optimise the performance of a building including glazed areas, orientation, construction materials, natural ventilation, and thermal mass. The large number of variables can often interact in surprising ways making physical simulation a useful asset. However most existing simulation tools require a detailed plan to be specified, making iterative, reflexive design processes quite unwieldy. As a consequence simulations are often only performed at the later stage of the design process when a lot of the critical decisions have already been made.
We think our platform could enable iterative designs to be rapidly assessed by architects, effectively tightening the loop of architectural design and performance assessment.
Builders and tradespeople
Builders and tradespeople represent a critical role in the residential construction industry, acting as a trusted advisor to the client on key decisions ranging from the construction material and window elements to the installed lighting, water heating and air conditioning. However tradespeople don't have the time or resources to compare the full range of options available, let alone assess the likely bill savings and paybacks arising from those choices. Cost pressures therefore drive many builders to meet but not exceed minimum performance standards.
We think our platform could reduce the time and complexity for builders and tradespeople to present a business case to their clients in going beyond compliance and targeting high performance building products and fixtures.
Real estate agents and property assessors
There is growing evidence that the thermal comfort and energy performance of a property is having an increasing influence on property values. This is also anecdotal evidence from real estate agents that buyers are increasingly asking to see the energy bills of previous tenants to inform their purchase. Energy bills are often difficult to obtain and can be biased by the behaviour of previous occupants. Energy simulation therefore represents a valuable opportunity, however most real estate agents lack the time or training to perform a conventional building simulation.
We think our platform could provide real estate agents and property assessors with a valuable tool to showcase the energy saving features of a property and increase property values.
Building product installers and providers
Insulation, window systems and other building products often represent a significant investment and understandably the client would like to see estimates of the associated bill savings and payback periods. However obtaining an accurate estimate of the bill savings from these investments requires consideration of a wide range of factors including the heating and cooling equipment, existing thermal shell, climate and tariff structure.
We think our platform could provide the building product industry with rigorous estimates of bill saving and comfort benefits and provide a more compelling business case for investment.
HVAC installers and providers
The capacity and configuration of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment is typically specified using rules of thumb based on a rough estimate of the conditioned area of a property. This practice tends to lead to air conditioners that are over-specified for the load, resulting in unnecessary capital and operating costs and often poor comfort for the client.
We think our platform could provide a robust and cost-effective means for specifying the capacity and configuration of HVAC systems for both commercial and residential properties.
Solar PV installers and providers
The ideal capacity and configuration of a solar PV system is affected by a wide range of factors including the installation cost, load profile, tariff structure, and rebates available. For instance, if the retail import tariff is significantly higher than the feed-in tariff, it will usually be best to optimise the system capacity to maximise internal consumption and minimise exports where possible. However most calculators can't assess the dynamic energy balance at the required time step to perform this optimisation.
We think our platform could enable solar installers and providers to optimise the capacity and configuration of commercial and residential solar PV arrays, while providing a strong business case for investment.