As building owners and developers become increasingly concerned about rising energy costs and potential obligations under climate-change programs, building energy modeling helps provide a preview into a building’s likely energy use and allows decisions affecting energy use to be made before a shovel even hits the ground.

To ensure that professionals modeling a building’s energy use have the skills necessary to produce an accurate model, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is launching a Building Energy Modeling Professional certification.

The first exam for the new certification program will be administered on Jan. 27, 2010, at the Winter Conference in Orlando, Fla. To register for the exam, visit www.ashrae.org/BEMP.

“Energy modeling is one of the most effective ways to achieve energy efficiency when designing sustainable buildings,” Gordon Holness, ASHRAE president, said. “Since buildings consume 40 percent of all U.S. primary energy supplies, and energy modeling is only as good as the consultant who uses it, ASHRAE’s newest certification program strives to ensure that engineers and architects achieve the highest possible standards when it comes to sustainable design.”

Criteria to improve the accuracy of building energy models will help address some of the growing concerns within the building community that building designs do not necessarily translate to actual energy use once a building is constructed.

Additionally, energy modeling will play a vital role in ASHRAE’s soon-to-be launched Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) program, which will feature “As Designed” and “In Operation” components. While the “In Operation” rating is based on actual energy use, the “As Designed” rating is based on the results of a building energy model.

Careful and consistent energy modeling will allow modeling results to be compared with the results of models from other buildings. According to Holness, the certification will be an essential element for guaranteeing the quality of the bEQ program by ensuring there is a competent pool of building energy modelers.

Professionals who pass the certification exam will have demonstrated their ability to evaluate, choose, use, calibrate, and interpret the results of energy-modeling software as well as confirm their competence to model new and existing buildings and systems.

The certification also will highlight a consultant’s ability to act as a leader for projects that focus on energy efficiency, especially projects that deal with green buildings and building-labeling programs, such as bEQ.

The Building Energy Modeling Professional program will help the individuals who earn it to distinguish themselves by providing confirmation of their skills and specialties by an internationally recognized engineering society. Professionals with such certifications have better chances of being hired, promoted, and/or tapped for working on certain types of design projects.

ASHRAE’s newest certification will become available at testing centers around the world in March 2010. It was developed in collaboration with the U.S. affiliate of the International Building Performance Simulation Association and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.