As a building ages, its components require replacement or retrofitting.
Instead of upgrading one component at a time, combining energy efficiency measures in an integrated fashion can yield far greater savings. However, this information is rarely available to building owners. The Spark Tool was developed by BetterBricks, a commercial program of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), to quickly demonstrate the benefits and cost-effectiveness of performing a combination of energy efficiency measures for a deep energy retrofit on an office building. It provides recommendations on which systems to replace, retrofit, or leave in place based on custom energy simulations run on demand. The Tool relies on OpenStudio models and a suite of measures. Two baseline models were created based on actual buildings – one mid-rise and one high-rise office building. The Tool includes the selection of four different HVAC designs for replacement or retrofitting as well as upgrade options for plant equipment, plug loads, lighting, and envelope. A web interface allows owners to enter information about their office including the climate, utility bills, and age of equipment. Once the selections are complete, the information is sent to the model which applies the appropriate efficiency measures and the simulation is performed on an external server. The Tool generates a report recommending a set of energy upgrades and provides estimates of the potential energy savings and the net present value of performing the upgrades. With Spark, an owner can quickly determine which retrofits would work together best and provide the greatest benefit for their particular building. *Posted with permission from the authors.