•   By bimengus
  •   March 23, 2022
  •   217 views

Monitoring Energy in Residential Buildings with Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Managing building energy requirements precisely can garner an environment for construction professionals and project stakeholders to make well-informed decisions, and even leverage significant long-term benefits. A BEMS or Building Energy Management System is an efficient and modern technique to control and monitor energy flow or movements in a building. In this blog, we would be talking about residential buildings.

  • Introduction (Why is it a big deal?)

Energy monitoring in a residential building includes various aspects viz. HVAC or Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning. It also includes lighting or security systems. This is applicable for commercial and residential projects, but we would be concentrating on residential projects.

Every building has different energy consumption; some of the largest consumers of energy can be listed as residential and commercial buildings, but as residents stay indoors for a very long time in residential buildings, the consumption can be more, or even required for longer durations for greater sustainability.

Thus, building management systems are essential tools to control and manage the requirements of a building. Residential buildings do consume a lot of energy since it is a 24/7 infrastructure, thus, the power consumption is continuous.

The world energy consumption continues to grow, and residential energy consumption in the United States is calculated to be more than 25% of the total energy consumption. It has been calculated that 40% of building electricity expenditure comes from residential structures.

Residential appliances account for more than 30% of the energy consumption and contribute directly to Carbon Dioxide or CO2 emissions. Implementing a building energy management system can mitigate strong greenhouse emissions, control excess energy consumption, & reduce overhead costs.

The three most important aspects of residential energy monitoring would be

  1. Reduction of building energy usage
  2. Reduction in electricity bills
  3. Environment conservation without affecting living standards
  • Optimizing Energy Management with Monitoring

Energy monitoring facilitates energy management through automation systems. This can be achieved through monitoring of duty cycles to conserve load, monitor load management to regulate power consumption, schedule various start-stop systems for HVAC, and adopt real-time control of residential building systems.

Various emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Building Monitoring Systems are changing the dynamics of how buildings are designed, built, and optimized. Smart residential buildings use cutting-edge technology to enhance occupant experience, sustain optimal performance levels, and reduce costs.

Residential Building Intelligence can be optimized whilst being –

Intelligent

Smart buildings can provide intelligent insights to make well-informed decisions. Real-time reporting through data garners significant insights on comparison and performance. This can make a system efficient and optimized for greater sustainability.

Feasible

A net positive approach can be achieved through building smart buildings that provide future sustainability through the right amount of demand and supply management of energy.  Being net positive makes a building create or conserve more energy rather than consume.

Flexible

Energy monitoring for residential buildings can be achieved through agile and dynamic work models viz. activity-based working, re-configuration, willingness to adapt to new technology, and changing technology requirements.

Experience

Residents can have greater control over the environment whilst creating a bespoke level of personal preference.

Productive

Smart efficient buildings facilitate better control over space and the environment. This creates better well-being and reduces health issues.

A multitude of technologies are deployed viz. smart sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, state-of-the-art HVAC and lighting systems, etc. This creates an efficient and easy energy management system to garner greater control over the residential infrastructure.

High volumes of data through sensors can be analyzed to derive actionable intelligence or building performance.  This allows faster diagnosis of errors or faults to save on cost and time.

Advanced security features consume lesser amounts of energy, these integrated into a residential building make life safer and easier for the occupants.

  • Stakeholders

Deploying energy monitoring systems in residential buildings makes it easier for property owners, contractors, and facility managers to manage infrastructure through a simplistic approach. A robust energy monitoring system makes it easy for all the stakeholders to deploy during the modeling, construction, and management phase.

It all instills significant savings for the entire project – from planning, design, construction, and maintenance.  For building owners, an energy monitoring system can garner the following benefits viz.

Reduction in operating costs   

As energy systems use automated sensors and controls that regulate various elements like gas, water, and electricity, it creates a scenario wherein owners can leverage reduced operating costs throughout the entire project life cycle.

Faster fault detection

With faster fault detections or automatic notifications sent out to various stakeholders, it becomes easier to manage a residential building whilst analyzing data to determine system performance and maintenance post-construction.

Occupant Satisfaction

With efficient energy management, occupants staying in the building have a greater chance of leveraging a better life and sustainability. This creates a comfortable ecosystem in terms of enhanced air quality, thermal comfort, sanitation facilities, etc.

  • Tools to monitor and analyze (IoT)

To find opportunities for improvement in a residential building, owners and facility managers are looking at deploying IoT on a full-scale basis.  Sensors embedded in building systems can garner exceptional data insights for HVAC, lighting, and security systems.

The growth of smart buildings requires solutions such as IoT and big data to derive and make impactful decisions on energy monitoring and its use. Modular IoT embeds are low-cost solutions for medium-to-large residential projects that provide exponential long-term benefits in terms of analyzing plug loads, operating electrical systems and instruments, or managing AC systems.

With the growth of environmental concerns, building owners need to assess their energy requirements and devise a robust system to monitor and manage them as well.  Furthermore, as compliance grows more stringent, energy monitoring and facility managers need to be looked at as an important investment to optimize building operations through wireless & web-based solutions.

Building management systems will be in high demand considering better decision-making at every level of the building project.

building management systems

Water Management

While the world looks at the water crisis as one of the major challenges, the AEC industry is looking at alternatives through green buildings for efficient consumption of water. To use water efficiently, new engineering processes and tools have been deployed for various residential structures.

Sustainable residential architecture is an integrated design that offers a comprehensive approach to sustainable water management and drainage systems design. This can significantly reduce the usage of water, and an efficient water system is designed through a cohesive system rather than an individual component working in silos.

The level of architectural design needs to improve to meet the growing demands of good living standards. Water supply and drainage are key aspects of a building, and they must be paid attention to. BIM has proved to be an excellent solution for collaborative and innovative design, with modern clash detection techniques water systems or pipelines can simulate the flow of water through a pipe for a specific space.

Applications of BIM for water supply management

Collaborative Design Structure

BIM uses 3D models that are information-rich and contain all the data of the water supply and drainage design. Various power consumption factors can be calculated, and as Revit is a parametric application, it is easy to update the 3D model whilst changes are made. This facilitates work simplification and collaborative efficiency of the project.   

Modern technology has the potential to detect pressure stresses in pipes and come up with an optimum solution to proactively adjust the water pressure. With intelligent sensors and IoT, water flow can be adjusted, and there reducing stresses in pipes. This in turn minimizes building and maintenance costs rendering long-term benefits for the building owner and residents as well.

Visual Advantage

With BIM and its tools, features such as height characteristics, architectural contours, and structures can be factored in and visually observed on a screen. This creates greater data capture and garners asset optimization. Designers and engineers are simulating rainwater harvesting using BIM methodologies and information databases.

Green Rating Systems

With the adoption of BIM on a global level, there have been various rating systems that have been set up for green building projects. These rating systems help mitigate confusion across the entire project lifecycle and augment coordination, measurement, and sustainability. This rating system can be termed as Leadership and Energy Design (LEED), Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM), etc.

The application of LEED focuses on overall building performance to achieve green building design. Information in the form of measurements or numbers is factored in to assess water management performance.

BREEAM looks at the flow rate of water for various spaces viz. baths, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. This rating system can be used to monitor and manage water use.

Other BIM applications for water management 

International high-rise buildings have been built using BIM by designing a special kind of curtain wall that enhances water harvesting. Water catchment is one of the most important aspects whilst analyzing and managing water.

An efficient water system was designed using BIM and LEED, wherein the process was divided into 5 systems viz. LEED Strategy, BIM execution plan, conceptual design, detailed design, implementation, and documentation.

BIM can be applied at any stage of the building lifecycle, and this significantly reduces water consumption.

Solar Technology

Another important aspect of the modern green building would be the adoption of solar technology or photovoltaic cell that consumes 50% lesser electricity than traditional power systems. This is achieved due to innovative building design, highly efficient building materials, and technology.

Revit uses state-of-the-art energy analysis tools and features to calculate the amount of radiation that would be hitting a building or infrastructure. This helps architects, designers, and engineers plan and design the size of a window, position, etc. This data can be used to design a solar power system that is extremely efficient for the entire building and its occupants.

All this and more happens in a 3D model wherein each element and space is visible to all the stakeholders to make informed decisions. Models built in Revit can be exported to a dynamo for coding purposes and imported back to Revit. This generates intelligent insights & daylight simulations through automation and customization.

Built-in tools analyze solar power design to detailed panel layouts and their effects on the overall building performance. Using Dynamo, nodes can be generated to optimize, automate, and parameterize the solar power deployment.

To Summarize

An efficient energy monitoring system has a myriad of benefits for its occupants and the environment as well. Energy monitoring for a residential project can significantly enhance the living quality for a resident, and provide huge benefits for owners and other stakeholders in terms of cost and time savings.

Moving into the future, energy monitoring systems would significantly cut down greenhouse gases and carbon footprints. Furthermore, the onset of technological advancements like big data, IoT, & AI will boost energy monitoring systems to the next level of performance and data analysis.

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