Design project team members

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BEM practitioners will interact with the entire project design team, either directly or indirectly, so it is important to understand their roles and responsibilities.

Architectural team

Architectural designer

The designer leads the effort of planning the design of the building in a manner that combines its aesthetics and its function.[1] They are heavily responsible for the project's "look and feel" from the inside and outside and how the spaces within will be used by the occupants. The designer makes many of the key decisions during the early stages of design, especially the conceptual design phase.

The BEM practitioner can have a significant impact by helping to analyze the energy impacts of many of these early design decisions such as analyzing the building form (especially if multiple options are being considered) and analyzing the feasibility of many design concepts including passive design options.

Project architects

The project architect is responsible for producing the project construction drawings (plans, elevations, sections, details) and specifications, and ensuring that the building is designed to meet the relevant building codes. The project architect often directs additional architects assisting with these design task and is also responsible for coordinating with the client and the rest of the design team members (engineers and other consultants).

The BEM practitioner can assist the project architect by analyzing detailed elements of the design such as construction materials or insulation properties and design, analyzing wall sections to minimize heat losses.

Engineering team

Mechanical engineers

HVAC engineers

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) engineers design the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems for buildings. Their duties include:

  • Designing HVAC systems, including ductwork and control systems
  • Selecting and sizing equipment, such as boilers, chillers, and air handlers
  • Overseeing installation and commissioning HVAC systems
  • Ensuring HVAC systems comply with building codes and energy efficiency standards.

Because HVAC systems are responsible for consuming a large proportion of energy in buildings, a large focus of BEM, especially during the design development and construction documents project phases is on accurately representing the HVAC system design and control sequences. During the earlier project phases, HVAC systems comparison and load calculations (for system sizing), and modeling strategies to reduce loads are also performed.

The BEM practitioner must coordinate closely with the HVAC engineer to ensure a solid understanding of the systems to be modeled. Because of the importance of mechanical systems modeling, it is not uncommon for the BEM practitioner to be part of the mechanical design firm, or in some cases, the HVAC designer may have the dual responsibility of designing the systems and performing the energy modeling for the project.

Plumbing engineers

A plumbing engineer is responsible for designing plumbing systems in buildings and structures. They ensure the safe and efficient transport of water, gas, and waste materials. Their duties include creating plans and specifications, selecting materials, estimating costs, and overseeing construction.

BEM practitioners will coordinate with the plumbing engineers to understand the domestic hot water systems (DHW, also referred to as service hot water or SHW), and expected hot water consumption in the building such that these systems can be modeled appropriately and with good assumptions for the usage schedules.

Electrical engineers

Electrical engineers design the electrical systems and infrastructure. Their responsibilities include:

  • Designing and specifying electrical power, lighting, fire alarm, communication, and security systems.
  • Ensuring the electrical systems are in compliance with codes and standards.
  • Conducting load calculations and sizing of electrical equipment.
  • Overseeing the installation and testing of electrical systems.
  • Providing technical support during construction and commissioning.

BEM practitioners must understand the energy consuming features of the electrical systems (and their associated heat gains) such as lighting systems, and large electrical equipment and be sure it is accurately represented in the BEM model. Lighting systems are specified in detail on the design drawings and documentation. Large items of electrical equipment that are needed for the building's intended use (sometimes called "process loads") are often part of the project design and cut sheets can be provided by the electrical engineer. Smaller items of electrical equipment that plug into the outlets (often called "plug loads") are harder to estimate because the occupants can plug in items as they please and this will vary from room to room. There are many sources for estimating these values, including the BEMcyclopedia Lookup Tool.

Structural engineers

The client/owner

The owner plays a critical role in the building design project and is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Defining project requirements: The owner must clearly communicate their vision and goals for the project, including the building's intended use, size, location, and budget.
  • Hiring design and construction professionals: The owner is responsible for selecting and hiring the architect, engineer, and contractors who will design and construct the building.
  • Approving design and construction plans: The owner must review and approve the design and construction plans produced by the design and construction professionals.
  • Managing project budget: The owner is responsible for ensuring that the project stays within budget, including monitoring project costs and negotiating contracts with design and construction professionals.
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations: The owner is responsible for ensuring that the building design and construction comply with local building codes and regulations, including fire safety, energy efficiency, and accessibility requirements.
  • Approving changes to the project: The owner must review and approve any changes to the project during the design and construction process.
  • Maintaining communication with the design and construction team: The owner must maintain open and ongoing communication with the design and construction team to ensure that the project is progressing according to their vision and goals.

BEM practitioners may or may not interact directly with the owner but, either way, BEM analysis can be helpful to the owner in their decision making process. If the goal of a BEM analysis is to convince the owner to specify a given design option, system, or energy efficiency measure, then be certain to present the information in an appropriate manner. Remember that the owner may not be an experienced energy modeler, so you must tailor the presentation approach. Be sure to relate the results and recommendations back to the project requirements, and highlight the impact on both first cost and ongoing costs.

Specialty consultants

Acoustic engineer

Cost estimator

Construction team


  1. "What is architectural design?". HagerSmith Design.
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