Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Washington, D.C.–Applying for and winning LEED certification is one thing, but what happens during the long life of a building afterward? Does the effort that goes into greening a building during its design and construction produce a long-term benefit in terms of energy use and other environmental considerations?
Last year, the U.S. Green Building Council decided to study these questions by starting the Building Performance Partnership (BPP), a program to engage owners and managers of LEED-certified buildings, including multifamily, to optimize the performance of their buildings through data collection and analysis. Starting this summer, USGBC opened the program to all current LEED-certified commercial and residential projects.
The USGBC says that all too often, there’s a disconnect between energy modeling done during design and what actually happens during daily operation after the building has been completed, due to occupant behavior or unanticipated building usage patterns or other factors. BPP will help projects meet sustainability goals by generating data on these kinds external issues.
Participation of current LEED-certified buildings is voluntary, and no building will be decertified because of BPP findings. According to the USGBC, the owners, managers and occupants who participate are committed to improving their own performance as well as helping drive the ongoing development of LEED. The buildings that participate will receive annual information on performance, specifically comparing predicted or actual performance at the time of certification with the project’s current performance.
Also, the report will show aggregated data of like buildings and certification levels. Currently more than 120 projects are participating in the first phase of BPP, and these projects will receive a basic performance report in November.
The USGBC anticipates that there will be some practical benefits for both building owners and, in the case of multifamily properties, tenants as well. “In the current market, multifamily properties are not typically sub-metered but the USGBC hopes that for projects participating in the Building Performance Partnership, we will encourage and start to see multifamily property owners and managers use unit-level sub-meters to help identify abnormal usage trends at the family level,” a spokeswoman for the USGBC tells MHN.
“Information on usage trends will help owners and families to troubleshoot any possible problems, which will not only reduce energy and water use but also reduce their energy and water bills,” she continues.