Member Spotlight: Joel Neymark

Now and then we highlight one of our members and ask them to share with our community insights about themselves, their careers and the present and future state of energy simulation as they see it.

This month's Member Spotlight is Joel Neymark, professional engineer (PE) and director of J. Neymark & Associates. Joel’s work focuses on testing and validation of BEM simulation programs. In addition to development of the various test suites for the Building Energy Simulation Test and Diagnostic Method (BESTEST) in collaboration with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Joel’s professional activities include: Chair of the project committee for ASHRAE Standard 140 (SSPC 140), Contributor to ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals (Chapter 19, Energy Estimating and Modeling Methods), and voting member on ASHRAE Technical Committee 4.7 (Energy Calculations). For IBPSA, Joel has presented papers at several IBPSA international conferences going back to 1997, has been a session monitor at SimBuild, and is active on the Denver-IBPSA organizing committee. Joel also enjoys playing guitar, violin/fiddle, and piano.

Connect with Joel by visiting his profile on our Modeler Map

Tell us a bit about Standard 140.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 140, Standard Method of Test for the Evaluation of Building Energy Analysis Computer Programs, applies a number of test suites based on the BESTEST methodology (e.g., see Standard 140 is widely cited for evaluating software for use with performance-path energy efficiency analysis in conjunction with well-known energy-efficiency standards, including ASHRAE Standard 90.1, the International Energy Conservation Code, and other international standards. It is also cited by the U.S. tax code for certifying software used to evaluate Section 179d building energy efficiency tax credits for commercial buildings. (Plug: SSPC 140 meets on Monday afternoon at the semi-annual ASHRAE conferences.) 

How did you come to work in BEM? 

That was 1986. I took a solar energy class with emphasis on modeling while working on my MSME at CSU (Colorado State University). They taught solar/mechanical system modeling with TRNSYS. I picked a final project in collaboration with one of the research groups at CSU analyzing an elaborate solar-thermal system (water and space heating) at the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene Kansas; my wiser colleagues picked simpler projects. Just for fun, picture working with a modular modeling program on a main-frame computer before drag-and-drop, with huge flow charts meticulously hand-drawn on the back of used large scroll-printer sheets and I/O stored on mag tape. This project began as a classroom effort, and ended as paid work for CSU. And well, the rest is history. 

What sort of work are you doing? 

I have been working on various BESTEST procedures since 1991, mostly in collaboration with Ron Judkoff of NREL, as well as with other collaborations and colleagues along the way. This work began with running the simulation trials applying different BEM programs (earlier with DOE-2, BLAST and SERIRES, and more recently with EnergyPlus). Since the mid-1990s I got into writing the test specifications and supervising other collaborative participants on test-suite simulation field trials and adapting completed test suites for Standard 140. As all of the software developers are continuously working to improve and expand their tools, we are working continuously to improve and expand the BESTEST suites.

What drives you to continue doing this work?

It is very gratifying to be working directly with domestic and international software developers on the test suites. The software development community sees value in having a set of fundamental accuracy tests that promote user confidence in the calculations, and various developers have fixed many program bugs as a result of running the tests. The software developers also provide constructive comments, which greatly add to the overall quality and practicality of the test suites. So it is a win-win for all of us. 

What else would you like to tell us?

Take the scenic route, when you can.