ATLANTA — Embodied carbon and operational energy were the focus of the 2023 ASHRAE Building Performance Analysis Conference, held recently in Austin, Texas.

The theme of the conference, “Holistic Building Analysis: Linking Operational Energy, Embodied Carbon and Comfort,” centered on a comprehensive approach to evaluating and designing buildings.

“This year’s conference emphasized the importance of considering not only a building’s energy consumption during operation, but also its carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle, while keeping occupant comfort and well-being in mind,” said John Bynum, conference chairman. “This theme challenged building professionals to rethink traditional building practices and adopt integrated strategies to create more sustainable and livable buildings.”

The two-and-a-half-day conference, which drew 240 building industry professionals, included keynotes, paper presentations, seminars, vendor demonstrations, panel discussions, and debates from more than 90 presenters.

Keynote sessions featured presentations from Jason DeGraw (“Extreme Events and the Role of Modeling in a Resilient Future”), Duncan Cox (“Whole Life Carbon, Is This the Right Approach?”), and Alejandra Menchaca (“Early Design: The Greatest Opportunity to Influence Performance”).

The most-attended sessions were: “Modeling for Carbon and Embodied Energy I,” which covered aspects of building and construction decarbonization; the Fishbowl Session, a panel discussion moderated by Dennis Knight, the 2023-24 ASHRAE president-elect; and “Occupant Health, Wellbeing and Comfort,” which included three presentations on occupant comfort in indoor and outdoor settings from both thermal and visual perspectives.

In conjunction with the conference, the 2023 LowDown Showdown modeling team competition had teams of architects, engineers, designers, and energy modelers working together to create building designs that solve real-world efficiency challenges. This year’s competition asked teams to envision a creative reuse of the Houston Astrodome to provide needed urban amenities and to do so within the constraints of reduced fossil fuel use and reduced carbon emissions.

First place was awarded the Carbon Lighters team. See the team’s complete project overview on the modeling challenge webpage,

Next year’s conference will be rebranded as the 2024 ASHRAE Conference for Integrated Design, Construction & Operations, and is scheduled for June 24-26 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The conference will be hosted in conjunction with the 2024 ASHRAE Annual Conference.

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