Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

August 23, 2016

Part 1 of this 4-part series examined the current state of this interplay in four major performance areas for high performance buildings (HPBs): healthy and productive, safe and secure, cost-effective, and functional and operational. Part 2 examines emerging considerations.

Safe, secure, and resilient

Concerns about terrorism, gun violence and the like have elevated the importance of building safety and security beyond traditional concerns about potential fire, electrical, and physical hazards. Building owners today have to be concerned about times when the safety and well-being of the people and assets within a building are in danger even when the physical building itself is not. Intruders, active shooters, explosives, pandemics, and cyber attacks are just some of the threats that a building owner may have to contend with in the 21st century.

Likewise, extreme weather events (notably Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Alberta floods in 2013), natural disasters, and climate change have brought other aspects of safety into sharper focus, namely the need to improve not only buildings’ resilience but also the resilience of the communities and/or cities in which people live and work.

The expectation for greater security and resilience is spurring new requirements, such as seismic-rated products, redundant systems, and waterproofing. Security planning now involves not just hardware (e.g., cameras, gates) but also design elements (e.g., site of mechanical equipment) and greater collaboration among architects, engineers, and, increasingly, security consultants.

Resilience concerns have also begun to spur the development of new building-related programs and changes in existing ones. For example:

  • in 2014, the Rockefeller Foundation launched its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge to advance resilience in the face of social, economic, and physical challenges.
  • in 2013, the NYC Urban Green Council’s Building Resiliency Task Force recommended ways to improve buildings’ resilience
  • the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has begun incorporating resilience into its Beyond Green High Performance Building and Community Awards.
  • leading organizations that have traditionally focused on building energy performance, such as the New Buildings Institute (NBI), increasingly underscore the synergy between the goal of net-zero energy and operational resilience, as buildings that employ islandable distributed generation, energy storage, natural ventilation, and daylighting are better equipped to withstand power outages and natural disasters.

The Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) — maintained by NIBS — describes a range of ways to enhance the security of building occupants and assets and underscores the value of incorporating security issues as part of an integrated design process. It also enumerates a number of codes and standards that various organizations and federal agencies have created to address specific aspects of building security design and operation. [1] As noted in prior white papers in this series, though, the WBDG — while an invaluable design resource — does not impose requirements or offer assessments of building performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Urban Green Council, Building Resiliency Task Force Report, 79

However, as with health and productivity, the increased attention to safety, security, and resilience is now starting to be reflected in building performance mechanisms (and their governing organizations) beyond the WBDG. For example:

  • the Living Building Challenge 3.0 is promoting building resilience in the form of on-site energy storage
  • the BOMA 360 Performance Program explicitly incorporates considerations related to safety and security, such as disaster planning, emergency communication plans, and access control
  • the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Steering Committee recently approved three new pilot credits for resilient design that are intended to prompt design teams to be aware of the natural and human-made disasters most likely to occur in a project’s region. These credits seek to address the biggest such risks in the project’s design, including designing the project for passive survivability and functionality during emergencies
  • the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter has created a Los Angeles Building Resilience Rating System and a Building Resilience-LA system
  • the U.S. Resiliency Council recently released the USRC Earthquake Building Rating System. This first-of-its-kind building performance rating system is intended to provide reliable information about a building’s expected performance during an earthquake. The USRC has indicated it intends to expand its resiliency ratings to include other natural hazards
  • Perkins+Will and others recently launched the RELi Green + Resilient Property Underwriting and Finance Standard, a LEED-type system of requirements and credits designed to encourage planners and developers to build and operate buildings and communities that are both green and resilient to a range of hazards

Cost-effective

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the first known use of “cost-effective” dates to 1967; it defines the phrase as: “producing good results without costing a lot of money.”

In the building context, the term “cost-effective” is evolving to include the concept of “total cost of ownership” (or “life-cycle costs”). The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed Building Life Cycle Cost (BLCC) Programs that are used “to evaluate alternative designs that have higher initial costs but lower operating costs over the project life than the lowest-initial-cost design.” The BLCC is “especially useful for evaluating the costs and benefits of energy and water conservation and renewable energy projects.”

Similarly, within most existing building performance mechanisms, cost-effectiveness remains closely associated with choices or processes that contribute to reduced energy consumption. Some mechanisms, such as the Living Building Challenge, LEED, Green Globes, and BOMA 360, include approaches that support the ability to measure cost-effectiveness, such as commissioning, modelling, and verification. Other mechanisms, such as ASHRAE 189.1, ASHRAE 90.1, and STEP, utilize energy costing (or energy cost budgeting).

While these programs and mechanisms have been targeted primarily to evaluate energy-related investments, it is worth exploring whether and how the life-cycle cost-effectiveness concept can be applied more broadly to encompass other performance considerations, such as productivity, health, safety, and security.

To improve overall effectiveness of the design process, project delivery systems are transitioning to an approach where decisions among many of the different building systems are made up front. The use of “design-build” or “integrated project delivery” (IPD) systems are projected to increase as “design-bid-build” is projected to decrease over the next several years (see graph).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: McGraw Hill Construction, Project Delivery Systems, 12

According to McGraw-Hill, “while the incidence of its use is still somewhat low in the industry, one-third to nearly one-half of the practitioners experienced with IPD find it to be the best system to achieve improved communication, increased process efficiency and improved productivity. Forty percent of those familiar with IPD also expect to see increased use of this system in the next three years.” This means cost-effectiveness will play an even greater role in the design and construction of a building, potentially beyond energy efficiency decisions.

First image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

1. WBDG Secure/Safe Committee, “Security for Building Occupants and Assets,” WBDG, last updated October 16, 2015, www.wbdg.org/design/provide_security.php.


This white paper is the third in a series that Legrand has produced to stimulate dialogue, highlight key trends, and advance understanding within the High Performance Building movement. In Part 3: the future of high-performance buildings. Download the full paper here: http://www.legrand.us/aboutus/sustainability/edp-white-paper-2016.aspx.

 

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