Once the Architect of Record (AOR) has established an energy use target, estimating whole-building performance requires a comprehensive look at intended energy use. Computer simulation models or whole building energy calculations help estimate intended energy use but do not offer the comparative analysis provided by EPA tools. Target Finder compares the project's estimated energy use to actual energy use of similar buildings and provides a relative energy performance rating compared to its peers. The EPA rating helps determine if the design is intended to meet industry goals, such as ENERGY STAR and the 2030 Challenge. To achieve Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR, the energy use estimate should include all energy consumption intended for the building and earn an EPA rating of 75 or higher.
The building's characteristics have an impact on energy use and are required inputs for Target Finder to provide a target or project rating. For rating a design in Target Finder, energy estimates should account for all intended energy use, including regulated load assumptions, such as equipment and systems, and non-regulated load assumptions, such as plug loads and process loads. A complete energy analysis should include all design strategies: energy use associated with the project; occupant and operating schedules; and supplemental and process loads—as well as the planned building's size; location; construction materials and methods; mechanical and lighting systems; and number of people and the hours they will occupy the building.