High performance buildings go beyond the basic requirements of codes and standards to significantly reduce energy consumption, increase use of renewables, have a minimal environmental impact in material use and site selection, enhance human comfort and safety, and improve occupant productivity.
In a world faced with an evolving array of challenges – economic, environmental, security, and social – the bar for building performance is continuing to rise. High performance buildings go beyond the basic requirements of codes and standards to significantly reduce energy consumption, increase use of renewables, have a minimal environmental impact in material use and site selection, enhance human comfort and safety, and improve occupant productivity.
High performance buildings also create the flexibility necessary for open-plan space and respond efficiently to inevitable changes within the building. High performance buildings achieve these performance objectives in a cost-effective manner throughout the lifetime of a facility.
According to Legrand, a provider of infrastructure solutions, a host of factors are driving a paradigm shift in performance expectations within the built environment. Key factors include:
- Market and Economic Forces: In recent years, institutional investors and building owners have sought out energy and other efficiencies in building portfolios to reduce risk and improve asset value.
- Homeland Security & Natural Disasters: Today’s buildings are faced with a more diverse and rising number of man-made and natural threats, ranging from terrorism to flooding and earthquakes.
- Energy Security and Climate Change: In the United States, buildings consume nearly 40% of all national energy and significant amounts of natural resource, putting the sector under increasing pressure to become more energy and resource efficient.
- Social Equity: The aging of the American population and the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act are driving building owners and managers to redefine and redirect the traditional understanding of design for accessibility.
- Changes in Building Design, Delivery, and Management: New information management and modeling tools, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), have created the ability to simulate and manage building performance across a wide array of attributes.
- Information Technology: The Internet, with all its associated devices and applications, is changing the functioning of the building and the activities of its occupants. This creates demand for new levels of embedded intelligence, communications, and interoperability of systems and products.
- Codes and Standards: A new generation of building codes and standards are a reflection of new market expectations, and they have become a driving force for higher levels of building performance.
The federal government formally defined high performance buildings in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, but in practice, it is building owners and managers and the design teams they commission who define and embody high performance on a day-to-day basis.