National Community Renaissance (National CORE), a developer/builder of affordable housing, based in Southern California, use IESVE software to address operational economics in their projects, using submetering within IESVE to identify how much and where their buildings use energy.
Ed Mazria and the team at Architecture 2030 were the first to point out that "Architects Pollute" (Metropolis, October, 2006) and soon after the American Institute of Architects recognized the responsibility resting on the shoulders of the profession to help solve the Climate Crisis. The industry is making progress, and many design teams routinely rise to the challenge. At the same time energy codes in many countries and U.S. States (like California) continue to evolve and push design teams towards higher energy efficiency and wider deployment of on-site renewables.
There is a generational challenge to architects to unlock their inner engineering skills, identify the opportunities offered within the boundaries of energy codes, and to identify new styles and typologies that celebrate both sustainability and design. Even so, while the worsening impacts of Climate Change hit our news feeds each day, slow motion change and business as usual tendencies are the norm. A different approach and an alternative perspective is needed in conversations with clients, one centered on economics and more specifically operational economics. Questions to consider include: What are the long-term economic consequences of design decisions? How do you measure? What do you share? How important is renewable energy? Who pays for what?
All of these conversations are important for National Community Renaissance (National CORE), a Developer/Builder of affordable housing, based in Southern California but with footprint reaching to other regions and other States (currently Texas and Florida). For them, first cost is important - their budgets are fixed - but equally important are the long-term operational costs for the buildings they are designing, developing, and building.
To address these challenges, National CORE build, test, and measure their assumptions in IESVE Software. They use key features, in particular the ability to create sub-meters to isolate how much energy goes where, how much renewable energy their buildings can accommodate, and most critically, where the renewable energy gets allocated. They prioritize getting common area electricity to zero first, then distribute excess energy to residential units, many times achieving Zero Net Energy.
Previous IESVE Case Studies have demonstrated National CORE's approach to conceptual energy analysis and right-sizing HVAC analysis. The next step in their process is to identify how much and where the building will use energy. This data can then be used to identify how much it will cost to operate the building, with the approach also making it possible to determine the impact of onsite renewables.
Working within IESVE, as the building envelope is optimized and the HVAC zones are created and HVAC sizing is completed, National CORE focus on performance analytics in the VistaPro Application to determine energy use and operational costs. To achieve this, they have adopted the following workflow, which was recently applied to one of their current projects, Santa Fe Senior Village, a 54-unit complex located in San Diego, CA:
Energy analytics, especially for affordable, multi-family housing, is a multi-step process, beginning with conceptual energy analysis, continuing into the HVAC system sizing analysis, then landing in analysis of costs to operate. For National CORE, cost analysis is the most critical step and is their starting point for conversations with the design team. For Santa Fe Senior Village (and other projects) they can use the analysis outputs from IESVE to drive discussions around what they can do to get their operating costs down, or how much PV they can land on the building and the site to minimize long-term operating costs. As a next step, they can run other iterations to improve energy performance and optimize renewable energy deployment.
“The path to cost-contained, high performance affordable housing requires precision and, whenever possible, modeling efficiencies. NCORE relies on IESVE to help pin down critical analysis, providing detailed reports, paving the way for us towards zero net energy and carbon neutral projects.
Santa Fe Senior Housing is an example of how we can achieve a high-performance, climate-conscious and affordable building design within a limited budget, now showing how we can get into and fine tune operational economics to unlock long-term savings. The less it costs to operate, the more we can invest in high performance energy systems up-front.
National Community Renaissance continues to lead the affordable housing industry, telling the real-world story, showing what is possible in affordable housing. When it comes to high performance, zero net energy, and carbon neutral projects: If we can do this, everyone can.”
Tim Kohut, AIA, Director of Sustainable Design at National Community Renaissance