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Fall 2020 Update

November 6, 2020

CalBEM 2020 is right around the corner! Mark your calendar for half-day sessions on November 17th and 18th: Register here.

The Working Groups have covered a lot of ground in the five months since the Spring CalBEM Update. Three Working Groups have developed and submitted three projects proposals which have been accepted with pending funding solutions. These projects sprung from the CalBEM 2019 Action Plans, focused in 2020 into full project scopes:

  1. Recommendations for Building Energy Modeling Education in California (Working Group 2)
    • There is a wide array of great BEM educational resources relevant to California. Courses exist for pre-workforce training in BEM, skills enhancements for practicing BEMers, full BEM certifications, and more – but there is no centralized mapping of these offerings. A “top-down” exploration of BEM educational resources would go a long way to helping expose any gaps in the system, and where more support is necessary.
    • The Recommendations for Building Energy Modeling Education in California project will:
      1. Identify education needed to increase the effective use of building energy modeling in designing new buildings and in improving performance of existing buildings.
      2. Identify the professional pathways that engage in energy modeling, the labor market data for these professions, and the types of educational programs that prepare these professionals. Collect information on the diversity in these professions, including race and gender.
      3. Develop recommendations for development of education programs and resources and their ongoing support in California.


  2. Compliance Modeling Quality Assistance Tools (Working Group 3)
    • Code compliance modeling for nonresidential buildings has become a strenuous activity since the release of CBECC. While the engine may provide the capacity for greater accuracy and ability to reflect systems and technologies, the increased complexity of the software has made it difficult to realize these gains.
    • The Compliance Modeling Quality Assistance Tools project aims to create a tool which utilizes CBECC-Com input and results files to perform a series of quality assurance checks, filling the gap between the errors, warning messages, and various .csv files created by CBECC-Com that are information-rich but difficult to use.


  3. California BEM Industry Analysis (Working Group 2)
    • It is difficult to accurately assess the needs of the Building Energy Modeling industry in California without industry data. To date, no comprehensive study of this industry has been performed and thus many business and policy decisions must be made subjectively.
    • The California BEM Industry Analysis project aims to:
      • Assess the CA BEM industries potential for growth in California.
      • Identify and classify the participants in this industry and their interrelationships.
      • Understand industry dynamics of competition, market drivers, adoption barriers, and key enabling elements.
      • Define supply, demand, and gaps for services, workers, research & development and education.

Beyond these projects, Working Groups have been using Update Meetings as a central hub to keep BEM stakeholders in California up to date with the many disparate efforts that are working in parallel to drive BEM forward.

Notes from the Update Meetings can be found in the CalBEM Collaborative Efforts Notebook, here. If you are an active CalBEM participant and do not have access to these notes, please email Elise Wall (elisewall@2050partners.com) for access.

Thanks for keeping up with CalBEM this far into 2020! You can join a Working Group mailing list (see below) to get involved! Please send any other questions to elisewall@2050partners.com.

What are Working Groups?

A Working Group is a team of CalBEM participants dedicated to furthering one of CalBEM’s core goals. During CalBEM events they discuss potential solutions (imagined or inspired by solutions seen in other jurisdictions) to issues identified in the sub-topics explained below. In-between CalBEM events, they work to finalize and execute on projects inspired by these events.

Each Working Group has two designated co-chairs selected based on their experience and involvement related to the Working Group sub-topics. Prior to each event, these individuals work with the host (SCE) and facilitators (2050 Partners and Red Car Analytics) to structure the Working Group breakout sessions (e.g., sub-agenda, presentations, handouts, activities, etc.).

The Working Group sub-topics were chosen with the following criteria in mind:

  • Responsive to feedback from BEM stakeholders,
  • Addresses issues that are not being addressed in another forum, or adds value to an existing process but is not duplicative, and
  • Focuses on issues for which the Working Groups can reasonably develop useful draft Action Plans within a two-day event.

The Working Groups are organized around three core CalBEM goals:

Creating a Streamlined Process for Building Simulation

This group focuses on opportunities to streamline compliance processes through software enhancements, new innovative methods in validation or types of performance compliance, and software application interoperability.

Co-Chairs: Supriya Goel (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Neal Kruis (Big Ladder Software)

Key Sub-topics:

    1. Future of Public and Private Code Compliance Software – What strategies could CA explore to expand compliance software to be more accessible, easier to use, and easier to develop by the market? Shaping a Ruleset Validation Standard is one example related to the idea of moving regulatory bodies out of the role of creating software and yet maintaining a level of control and calculation quality.
    2. National Alignment – What efforts are being undertaken by national code agencies or green building rating groups to streamline energy modeling compliance and new performance pathways for users? What alternate strategies should CA agencies for codes, programs, or local incentives consider which may be currently implemented or being piloted elsewhere?
    3. Software Interoperability and New Developments – With energy modeling tools improving and expanding to now include whole eco-systems of software, what needs exist for interoperability? Where the need exists today for multiple models, how could interoperability be enhanced to streamline or change the current dilemma of non-interoperability?

Educating BEM Users and Developing Resources

Group 2 focuses on enhancing resources for the energy modeling community of technical users and agencies, including enhancing shared resources, developing robust methods and documentation for compliance with codes, incentives, and state programs, and prioritizing the most educational items.

Co-chairs: Erik Kolderup (Kolderup Consulting) and Dimitri Contoyannis (Model Efficiency)

Key Sub-topics:

    1. Creating a Robust Reporting Process – In both code compliance and in green building standards, review of results and documentation of calculations is necessary. What best practices exist for enhancing compliance of models that are created, such as peer review and automated checks of modeling files? For documentation itself, where could enhancements or simplifications be made in state documents for codes and program administrators’ documents for incentives and where are examples for such available in the industry, be it states or through private rating systems such as LEED?
    2. Educating a Larger Workforce & Advancing Skills – As energy modeling and software inform more elements of the built environment, what ways can the BEM community further attract talent and teach the necessary skills to support this expanding scope? What gaps exist today? What are the priorities for enhancing workforce education? What educational resources could be developed to enhance the general knowledge for properly modeling in specific software or in general?

Advancing BEM Simulation Capabilities, Accuracy, & Metrics

Group 3 focuses on increasing the accuracy of software and advancing capabilities to address evolving policy objectives in the short-term and long-term. Sub-topics reflect immediate technical challenges for software and the need to identify short and long term solutions to address them.

Co-chairs: Larry Froess (California Energy Commission) and Neil Bulger (Red Car Analytics)

Key Sub-topics:

    1. Advancing Metrics – Status on the future of carbon metrics and other metrics being developed, including T24-TDV and other carbon accounting.
    2. All-Electric Buildings and Technology Gaps – With more projects aiming to reduce carbon emissions and state long term goals energy modeling simulation tools must be able to represent the technologies being used in all electric buildings today. What technologies and capabilities are most important to this effort
    3. Developing Interim Calculation Methods for Key Technologies – Alternative calculations and methods for code compliance in CA require a technical submission and public engagement process. As a process is determined for ways to engage with the CEC, what information can be gathered for key technology gaps today to provide specifications, supporting documentation such as new physics-based models, laboratory testing, and field installation verifications.

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What are Draft Action Plans?

During CalBEM events, the Working Groups prioritize sub-topics and then refine and develop problem statements, goals, and actions for the prioritized sub-topics. These materials form the backbone of robust draft Action Plans.

The Action Plan structure is organized around these problem statements. Each problem statement will have one or more actions to be taken that create movement towards resolution of the stated problem. Each action includes priority, status, lead stakeholders, other stakeholders, key barriers, schedules and notes.

Meetings and Webinars

After the completion of the annual CalBEM event, the Working Groups develop projects based on the issues identified in the Action Plans and continue to support a developed and functional building energy modeling ecosystem in California.