Transitioning to a High Performance Building

As a facility manger, you have most likely come across the phrase high performance building; but how do you know what constitutes one? The maintenance and operation of high performance buildings call for progressive and practical management methods for energy management and cost effectiveness.

What is a High Performance Building?

There is no single definition for a high performance building as several scholars and researchers in the industry have come up with different and slightly differing definitions. The term is still undergoing refinement and as such has been used almost interchangeably with other building terms.

However, in defining a high performance building, there has been a similarity to the definition of an intelligent building which can be found in documented form from several sources including government, research and industry.

An intelligent building has been defined by the Energy Independence and Securities Act 2007 as “A building that integrates and optimizes on a lifecycle basis all major high performance attributes, including energy [and water] conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations“.

The major focus on intelligent buildings is placed mostly on the integration of the different systems running a building, using technology to achieve the bulk of the work. There is a similarity between the definition of an intelligent building and a high performance building. What needs to be remembered though is that high performance buildings also place a great deal of emphasis on sustainability which was defined by the Brundtland Report in 1987 as development which met the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Maintaining a High Performance Building

When it comes to maintaining high performance buildings, the systems are more complex, driving efficiencies through incremental improvements to all integrated systems.  By their very nature, High Performance Buildings require several dynamic systems which are much more multifaceted than those found in other buildings. The lighting, mechanical and control systems are more intricate. The heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems alone most likely consist of radiant heating and cooling tied into chillers, boilers, split A/C units, and other systems which are all linked to the building automation systems (BAS).

Because of the level of this intricacy, maintaining and managing a high performance building requires dedicated software that has been designed for that purpose. Regardless of how well designed a building of facility is, the true test of performance lies in the maintenance and operation of the building.

In order to maintain a high performance building, benchmarking is an important component that cannot be ignored. This involves using a set standard to compare performance and measurements. Benchmarking helps the facility manager to determine if the building is performing as it ought to and how well and also helps in setting targets or goals for continuous improvement.

If your building makes use of intricate lighting, mechanical and control systems and also incorporates the use of renewable energies such as solar, wind or geothermal systems then you are most likely in charge of a high performance building, and you are likely managing your facility with a CMMS or Enterprise Asset Management software to ensure all assets are performing to expectations.