Retrofit Savings Estimator

Online Tool / July 28, 2014 / Deep Energy Retrofits / Existing Buildings

The Retrofit Savings Estimator was developed to help building owners and other users to quickly evaluate the potential energy savings associated with existing building retrofit strategies, and to identify the most promising retrofit strategies that should be part of a building performance upgrade.

Use The Estimator               Download User Guide

Mercy Corps Portland OfficesWhat does it do?

The Retrofit Savings Estimator uses basic information about your building to automatically perform a set of custom building energy simulations. The results allow you to investigate how much energy you could save by implementing promising groups of energy savings measures (that is, building improvements). The tool identifies a set of the most significant upgrades based on the characteristics of your project, and identifies potential energy savings associated with those upgrades.  The tool can also predict how much energy you could save, as a percent of current usage, by implementing a custom set of measures. You can define a subset of the recommended measures to identify the impact of those choices.

Who should use the Retrofit Savings Estimator?

This analysis tool has been designed for commercial building owners, managers, and tenants, as well as other interested parties. The focus is on existing building retrofits and a wide variety of building types can be examined.

How does it work?

Each building that is analyzed with the Retrofit Savings Estimator generates automated custom building simulations intended to evaluate the impact of various energy conservation improvements. The process looks like this:1.    We gather some basic preliminary information, like location and building type, from you about your building so that we can perform the first round of simulations. This first round is devoted to building a baseline model of the building and finding out which energy savings measures we should be thinking about for your building.2.    We perform a custom building simulation, using a purpose-built physical model of the building, to select a group of energy savings or measures, tailored for your building.3.    You enter some more specific information about the building having to do with those measures. For example, if one measure being considered is adding roof insulation, it’s helpful to know how long the current roof has been on the building so we have an idea of how much insulation is already there. At this point you can enter information in general terms (how long has the current roof been on the building?) or specific technical details (what is the numerical U value of the current building roof assembly?).4.    We use that information to perform hundreds of custom building energy simulations to examine the effect of the selected energy saving measures individually and in groups. This allows us to consider interactive effects between different measures (for example, installing higher efficiency lighting can reduce the cooling load by decreasing the heat from light fixtures).5.    You see how much energy you can save by implementing the recommended measures. The energy impacts are shown as percent savings compared to your building’s estimated current usage and to a building built to code in your area. You can select any or all of the recommended measures, which allows you to compare the impact of different packages of energy savings measures and find out what works best for you.

What information will I need?

To complete the analysis the tool will need some basic information about the building, including its location, the building type and size, and certain physical characteristics. This information is generally easily available to a building owner or manager. The tool has been designed so that if you don’t know something you can fall back on a default assumption based on the building age, location, and other basic characteristics. Here is a list of the basic building information.

  • Primary Building Use Type
  • Location
  • Total Building Floor Area
  • Number of Occupied Floors Above Grade
  • Amount of Windows vs. Walls (approximate)
  • Year of Construction
  • Heating Equipment Type & Fuel Source
  • Cooling Type

How long does all this take?

Once you already know the relevant information about your building, the process (entering data, analysis, measure selection, and results) should only take about fifteen minutes.

Who put this together?

The Retrofit Savings Estimator was developed by New Buildings Institute and The Weidt Group with support from The Kresge Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.