The first year of occupancy is the most important year for a newly constructed green building. Construction teams would have raised the victory flag and moved on to the next project, however, at this juncture, operators need to evaluate the gap between performance and design intent.
Experienced green designers understand that it takes years to align green buildings systems and operating procedures with performance expectations. Operation teams require monitoring technology and continuous analysis to provide insight into installation problems, green building design limitations and how to optimise building performance.
When green buildings first came to prominence, building owners, green building architects, engineers and contractors focused on the construction of new sustainable buildings. Today, the industry has shifted its attention from prediction to demonstration of outcomes, base buildings to tenant spaces and from new buildings to existing buildings.
High Performance Tenant Spaces:
Occupants use more than half the energy in commercial green buildings. Therefore, successful collaboration and coordination of the designers, construction teams and system suppliers is essential to ensure cost-effective delivery of high-performance buildings in general and tenant spaces in particular. This is achieved by integrated green building design which is one of the most valuable changes driven by the green building industry. This integrated design process works well, for core buildings and tenant build-outs alike, with opportunities to improve energy and water efficiency by 20% to 40% in tenant spaces.
High Performance Operation:
After newly commissioned buildings have achieved the design performance, they need to be operated in a manner that maintains that performance over time. The process of re-commissioning re-evaluates building performance every five to seven years to ensure that it meets design intent and technical capabilities. This is a labour-intensive process that can be enhanced or potentially eliminated by technology and remote monitoring.
Advanced analytical software can be used to monitor instruments and meters to track energy performance and detect faults in systems and equipment. This early warning system allows building operators to focus on daily activities, while the software alerts them to conditions that waste energy, compromise occupant comfort or threaten equipment reliability.
The most important trend in building performance is the increased focus on systematic approaches to continuous improvement of the industry. In addition, the Better Buildings Challenge and international standards such as ISO-50001 Energy Management System initiatives have highlighted efficiency of existing buildings.
A systematic approach to improve performance requires goals, established policies, defined metrics, action plans, tracking and reporting. Recent projects whether retro-commissioned, opportunistic equipment upgrades or major retrofits, have identified the timing of actions is critical to achieve significant efficiency improvements with the best financial returns.
If operation teams take a long view backed by a systematic plan and performance delivery throughout the building lifecycle, they can meet building sustainability objectives, and achieve the full economic and environmental potential.