AIA Releases Energy Modeling Primer for Architects

Green Building

AIA Releases Energy Modeling Primer for Architects

Cover image from An Architect’s Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process
© 2012 The American Institute of Architects

Earlier this month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released its long-awaited primer for architectural professionals interested in integrating energy modeling into the design process. The publication, titled An Architect’s Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process, is a comprehensive 86-page document that defines the fundamentals of energy modeling, outlines the current state of various performance and analysis tools, and foretells the direction of an architectural industry increasingly focused on performance-based design.

Among other outstanding components of the document, the Guide offers:

  • A succinct introduction to many key terms related to energy modeling.
  • Clarifications related to common misunderstandings about energy modeling.
  • An outline of the cycle of benefits energy modeling enables throughout the design process.
  • Several potential new and ongoing service opportunities for professionals well versed with energy modeling.
  • A summary of the most palatable energy modeling tools in the market today.
After poring over the document, it was clear to me that the AIA recognizes a successful “performance design process” will not arise overnight. The Guide is upfront about the challenges facing design professionals who are attempting to develop a work plan that incorporates energy modeling from the earliest stages of design. The energy modeling market is yet unstandardized, the tools are flawed, and interoperability is still an elusive goal.
However, the Guide offers a powerful snapshot of an industry that is rapidly evolving. Building energy modeling (BEM), much like building information modeling (BIM), is changing the design and construction industry forever. This Guide provides a well-rounded introduction to energy modeling and the performance design process.
The Guide is available for free at

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