3 Common Energy Modeling Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

3 Common Energy Modeling Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Energy Modeling

Whether you’re a commercial property owner or building engineer, the global  sustainability movement along with  rising  costs throughout the supply chain mean it’s more important than ever to ensure your commercial buildings are running efficiently. Energy savings directly contribute to corporate profits. But it can be difficult to identify efficiency gaps or areas for improvement, especially in large commercial building plans.

Building energy modeling helps teams review, aggregate, and analyze building energy and financial data to determine life-cycle costs, comparative performance, and efficiency design and construction decisions. Manual energy modeling is a complex process that requires significant bandwidth and technical expertise. But with automated energy modeling software, users need only basic building and mechanical system information to generate a detailed model.

Commercial buildings across industries can be very complex, requiring highly contextual and accurate data to make effective changes. There are many factors that can affect the energy consumption of a commercial building, which can be even more complicated based on the building industry and use type. Because of these complexities, we’ve developed a list of the three most common energy modeling mistakes and how to avoid them so you and your team can make smarter planning and optimization decisions.

Common Mistakes

1. Limited or Ineffective Analyses

With so much data available in a robust energy model, it can be difficult to identify the most critical metrics and maximize your results. Often the first analytical mistake many teams make is only looking for large, unavoidable issues such as noncompliance with codes and regulations. But by only focusing on “must-dos” you may be missing out on critical insights for efficiency optimization and prevention of future issues.

Similarly, your team should be reviewing the model at different levels. Analyze the results from the perspective of energy consumption, costs, and long-term sustainability. In doing so, you can easily identify areas for improvement that will help you streamline inefficiencies for the short and long term.

Ultimately, a building energy model is only as valuable as its analyses. Energy modeling by hand can substantially reduce the breadth and depth of your analysis. Instead, look for an energy modeling tool that will highlight a wide range of strategies, measures, and mechanical systems to consider.

Likewise, analytics are not valuable if they aren’t relevant to you or you don’t know how to apply them to your building type or industry. Because of this, your manual or automated energy modeling tool must provide easily consumable metrics that paint a clear picture of the best next steps.

2. Reactive Maintenance

Just as it’s important to broaden your analytical perspective, it’s also  critical to use energy modeling for proactive, rather than reactive, maintenance. By only leveraging ad-hoc reporting, you are grossly limiting your visibility. This makes the possibility of catching trends early to stop burgeoning issues less likely. More so, the less you run modeling reports, the fewer opportunities you have to improve your energy efficiency continually.

At NEO, we recommend standardizing a frequent cadence for energy modeling across all your buildings (yes, even smaller buildings!) to achieve maximum results. A more proactive approach sets your team up for success by setting a precedent of continuous improvement. This ensures any trends or small issues will be addressed early, further reducing the costs of necessary maintenance, upgrades, or changes.

3. Time Spent on Development & Analysis

Effectively executing an energy model is a complex process. Manually, this can take 70-100 hours and requires hours to review for quality assurance. Each change to the model representing a different efficiency measure also needs to be checked. Commercial building teams can waste significant resources energy modeling by hand, suffocating team bandwidth and increasing the risk of human error.

Automated energy modeling software can accelerate the development and analysis process and reduce time  spent by 75%. Perhaps more importantly, an automated, standardized approach means your time was spent wisely since standard operating procedures minimize risk and ensure more consistent results. Designers often use an “it was a good enough decision on the last project” approach to new building development, but this approach ignores better options and can fail to keep up with evolving equipment efficiencies or incremental costs since the last project. With automated modeling, the best decisions are clearer and more consistent.

Why You Should Invest in Energy Modeling Software

Whether you’re struggling with team bandwidth, reactive maintenance, or ineffective analyses, commercial energy modeling software can help accelerate and standardize the entire process to reduce manual labor, encourage proactive analysis, and maximize reporting accuracy. Investing in energy modeling software can save your business thousands in energy costs annually.

NEO’s automated, real-time approach provides results in seconds with the accuracy of models that typically take days to produce.Our robust system provides measures for 40+ building types, 150+ HVAC systems, 250+ operational and capital improvements, dozens of baseline protocols and RS Means cost data for computing ROI. NEO specializes in optimizing any new or existing commercial, mixed-use, or multifamily building.

For property owners, architects, engineers, manufacturers, or utility managers, our tiered software subscription packages give you the option to choose the level of service that’s right for you. Schedule a demo with our team to learn how NEO can transform your commercial building development and optimize your energy efficiency and maintenance.

NEO featured in ACHR News as 2021 AHR Innovation Award Winner

NEO featured in ACHR News as 2021 AHR Innovation Award Winner

NEO | Net Energy Optimizer Helps Building Owners, HVAC Contractors, and Energy Professionals Tackle Energy Modeling

The software solution can help show decision makers the value of upgrades to their buildings’ systems


To optimize energy modeling for buildings, since modeling is a valuable tool that is underused due to traditionally being time-consuming and complicated.


NEO leverages automation to make energy modeling easier, faster, and more accessible, regardless of building size or the contractor’s technical expertise. The NEO | Net Energy Optimizer provides an advanced technology solution that makes energy modeling more accessible, accurate, and affordable.

AHR Innovation Awards

2021 AHR Expo Innovation Award Winner – Software: NEO | Net Energy Optimizer

SOFTWARE SOLUTION: NEO automated modeling saves time and money by reducing the number of hours it takes perform an analysis.



Product Details:

NEO uses default inputs derived from industry standards (ASHRAE, COMNET, and RS Means) to inform and automate baseline models. NEO provides results in seconds, so its automated modeling saves time and money by reducing the number of hours it takes perform an analysis and makes the design and product selection process significantly more efficient.

NEO is a web-based energy modeling tool that utilizes the DOE-2 simulation engine and provides energy conservation measure rating analyses, energy audits for existing buildings, code compliance, and more. The energy modeling software streamlines whole building analyses of HVAC systems and energy conservation measures for commercial buildings with the versatility to support product comparisons, existing building energy audits, and new construction from early design through construction.

“With evolving construction technology, more stringent building codes, and limited project resources, the impact of design decisions continues to grow,” said Eric Flower, software account executive for Willdan. “NEO helps drive increased efficiency, reduces dependency on fossil fuels, and promotes new technologies by giving stakeholders performance-based answers to their complex product selection, building audit, or new construction design decisions.”

NEO graphically reports results, generates downloadable input/simulation files, and creates CSV and MS Word documents detailing key model inputs and outputs. NEO is web-based, touch friendly, and requires no software installation. Flower explained that NEO provides the actionable data needed to prove the energy, environmental, and financial value of a systems decision. This can help teams embrace new technologies that they may have initially dismissed due to an upfront cost.

“As the NEO user becomes a more educated consumer, supplier or consultant, a circular feedback loop influences: Designers to build more efficient buildings, operators to run them optimally, and equipment manufacturers to build more efficient systems to meet market demand,” said Flower.

“NEO has been very beneficial for the projects we’ve used it on. I’ve been able to perform early analyses and provide a professional looking report to clients, giving creditable information without a lot of upfront work. The efficiency of NEO has helped me remain profitable as it reduces the amount of work I have to do before pen hits paper.”

Brian D. Howell, PE, CxA
Farris Engineering


Finalists in the AHR Innovation Award Software category included Distech Controls’ Builder and Lennox International Inc.’s CORE Service App. Lennox’s CORE service app connects with its products’ CORE systems, allowing for diagnostic features that reduce service, installation, and maintenance costs.

By Gordon White