Energy modeling is often used to evaluate energy conservation measure (ECM) payback, calculating the operational energy savings that accrue after an initial capital investment. Energy modeling itself can also be viewed as an ECM, with an upfront cost during design that leads to operational savings. Given that viewpoint, it is interesting to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of modeling. As a rule of thumb, an ECM is considered cost-effective or attractive if its payback is shorter than three years. What is the typical payback of modeling?

Architecture firm HOK calculated the payback of energy modeling—cost of modeling divided by modeled energy cost savings—for a number of their projects. The results? Modeling usually pays for itself in a month or two. Credit: HOK.

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