The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has unveiled a new tool that allows architecture firms or other organizations to predict the future energy use of their buildings.

“This tool is a valuable resource for architecture firms and will be used on their entire portfolio, not just for projects seeking green building certification,” said AIA President George H. Miller in a statement announcing the software. “The tool was specifically developed to be simple to use and to be used by firms of all sizes on a variety of building types, large and small.”

The Washington, D.C.-based association says the Excel-based reporting tool is part of its voluntary 2030 commitment program. That is an initiative in which AIA member firms and other entities in the built environment make a pledge to develop multi-year action plans and implement steps that can advance AIA’s goal of achieving carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030.

Aiming to help make buildings more efficient, the tool will only require users to enter project use type, gross square footage (GSF), and answer various yes or no questions such as "Is project interior only?" or "Is project modeled?" The user will also be required to enter predicted energy use intensity (PEUI).
For modeled projects, the tool will automatically calculate the national average site EUI for that project type and the project’s percent reduction from the national average EUI toward meeting the firm’s 2030 goal for the current year (currently 60%), according to the AIA. “For non-modeled projects, users will enter in the design standard or code, and similarly the sheet will calculate the project’s contribution toward the firm’s 2030 commitment," the AIA says.

Developed through in collaboration with various national and local chapters of the AIA, the tool will generate three easy-to-read graphs that aggregate the individually listed active projects within the Excel sheet. These three graphs, which the firms will forward to the AIA, will show a snapshot of the firm portfolio including: the percentage of GSF of active projects meeting the current reduction goal; the percentage of GSF being modeled; and percentage of GSF for which the firm will gather actual energy performance.

The tool can be used for any type of building project and by any firm, AIA says, but the firm has to be part of the 2030 commitment to report their data.

Nigel Maynard is a senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.