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Spring Updates

May 2021

Group 1: Creating a Streamlined BEM Process

During CalBEM 2020, Working Group 1 flagged complexity in energy codes as a significant barrier to achieving well-understood performance modeling requirements, intuitive compliance reviews, and useful verification processes. The group’s top priority for 2021 is to identify opportunities to reduce the complexity in performance-based codes. In January this group held a webinar reviewing the many simplified performance compliance pathways aiming to reduce the complexity of analysis, reporting, and verification in the compliance process. The team discussed several simplified paths including a simplified whole building performance approach for small, simple buildings, HVAC System Performance compliance path, EUI targets and prescriptive packages.

This summer, Co-Chairs Neal Kruis and Supriya Goel want to dive deeper into each pathway, as prioritized by the group.

Group 2: Developing BEM Education and Resources

The Recommendations for Building Energy Modeling Education in California project is officially underway, spearheaded by Emily Courtney and her team at Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI). The project seeks to identify high priority gaps in educational resources needed to increase the effective use of building energy modeling to design new buildings and improve existing building performance. SEI will make a progress report to Working Group 2 members in July.

Group 2 is continuing to explore the landscape of BEM reporting in California. In May the group will meet to hear speakers discuss the current development status of compliance and noncompliance output reporting, and opportunities for improvement in both:

  • Discussion Topic 1: Status of CBECC Output and Reporting and Development – Opportunities for Change
    • Review of compliance report content development. Sally Blair
    • CBECC Res output data and possibilities. Scott Criswell / David Reddy
  • Discussion Topic 2: Reporting End Uses – Beyond Code Compliance
    • Design assistance. Providing useful information to designers and decision makers. Nick Brown, Dave Intner, Tim Kohut
    • Quality control. Providing information for modelers to help evaluate the quality of their models. Marina Chavez-Blanco / Gina Rodda, Brian Selby, Greg Collins

Group 3: Advancing BEM Capabilities and Metrics

At Working Group 3’s latest meeting, Haile Bucaneg was welcomed as the group’s new Co-Chair alongside Neil Bulger. Halie stressed that strategies for shifting load are more important than ever and provided an overview of the CEC’s new load management standard and the LMS MIDAS* Rate Database structure. This group has also been hard at work collecting feedback on a project that will allow the public to submit efficiency enhancement ideas to California code compliance software teams. *Load Management Standards (LMS) Market Informed Demand Automation Server (MIDAS)

Also on the topic of Advancing Capabilities, CalBEM is now the proud host of the Ecosizer tool, a free educational tool for sizing central water heating systems with heat pump water heaters in multifamily buildings.

Upcoming Meetings

  • Spring: BEM Reporting Resources (Group 2)
  • Summer:
    • Deep Dive on Performance Compliance Pathways (Group 1)
    • Update on California BEM Education Recommendation Project by SEI (Group 2)
    • Webinars on Grid-Interactive Buildings (Group 3)

Interested in joining any of these Working Group meetings? CalBEM participants can view the live schedule and copy events to your own calendar. Note that if you haven’t directly received email notifications for these meetings, it means you aren’t signed up to receive updates for the Working Group. You can still join any meeting you are interested in from the calendar, but you’ll only be notified when events are added to your Working Group if you are signed up below.

Want to delve deeper? Check out past updates and public meeting notes. Notes from recent Working Group meetings can be viewed by CalBEM participants in the CalBEM Collaborative Efforts Notebook. If you are an active CalBEM participant and do not have access to these notes, please email Elise Wall ( for access.

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 Brian Selby (Selby Energy)

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: Neil Bulger (Red Car Analytics) and Haile Bucaneg (California Energy Commission)

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 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 Action Plans.

The Action Plan structure is organized around the 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.