BEAM²: Built Environment Analysis Model
Ecofys is a consultancy agency for energy conservation and sustainable energy use. It advises, among others, home construction companies, energy firms and authorities on investments with regard to energy conservation, sustainable energy and climate matters.
The basis for this advice forms the BEAM² (Built Environment Analysis Model). The essence of the model is to calculate the consequences of energy consumption, CO2 emissions and investment costs of various programmes for demolition, renovation and new developments. Calculations are executed at a low level (up until individual buildings) and results are then aggregated to groups of buildings. For this purpose, the group of buildings is divided into different categories such as building type and age. The programmes are calculated for the coming decades based on this detailed data and a large database with parameters (with regard to climate, investment costs, technologies and materials).
State of Art
Ecofys has built the BEAM² model in a spreadsheet application. To provide clients with even better data, Ecofys wants to increase the level of detail of the calculations. For this purpose, a large number of categories needs to be added concerning isolation level, heating, cooling and hot water systems. However, this detail level seems impossible in a spreadsheet.
Using spreadsheet technology has led to the following problems:
- The computation problems complexity does not fit in the spreadsheet's limits
- Basic information on scenarios cannot be re-used because of their size and therefore it has to be re-collected over again each time
- Scenarios' results cannot just simply be compared with each other
- Only one user at a time can use a spreadsheet
Ecofys investigated the possibilities of replacement. It seemed, from this investigation, that replacement by a standard package was not possible. The only remaining option was replacement with a programmed tailor-made solution. This did not seem a good option given the many disadvantages attached to this option: The system’s complexity results in a long and risky path, the construction turned out expensive and the system does not deliver the required flexibility. An alternative suddenly appeared, by which the disadvantages of tailor-made programmes disappeared: assemblage with the help of Anago
The new BEAM² model’s desired functionality was discussed during two workshops. The basis for this was the functional design that was written in the search for a solution. The calculations were partially described in this, but the most important part – calculating a scenario with programmes about a specific time interval – appeared to be written globally. This part was studied in greater depth and described during the workshop.
The system supports the following functions:
- Importing global, geographical and scenario parameters
- Dividing buildings' square meters into categories
- Links to fuel data retrieval systems
- Integrity controls on import data
- Reports on energy consumption, CO2 emissions, isolation and application costs
- Analysis between different scenarios
The Anago solution, unlike programmed tailor-made systems, by default, provides a number of requested functionalities: Export to Excel and PDF; data input; rotate and tilt tables; logging data changes; backup; authorisation and connections to other systems
The Anago application ensures that the calculations can be executed on a more detailed level and in a very short time. This enables the client to offer totally new services and to strengthen his position in relation to competitors.
Apart from this, the use has become much more efficient with respect to the original situation:
- Manual entry is limited by clever use of data entered earlier
- The process is less error-prone because of a built-in integrity manager that detects contradictory and missing data
- Scenarios can be created, analysed and compared with one another in a straightforward way
Since Ecofys users are trained in using Anago Assemble, they can independently realise future extensions.