Home Articles New Characterisation and Measuring Performance Determinants of High Performance Buildings Part-I

Characterisation and Measuring Performance Determinants of High Performance Buildings Part-I

high performance building
Dr. A.N. Sarkar
Ex-Senior Professor (International Business) & Dean (Research), Asia-Pacific Institute of
Management, New Delhi

A high performance building is energy efficient, has low short-term and long-term lifecycle costs, is healthy for its occupants, and has a relatively low impact on the environment. High performance buildings use key resources such as energy, water, materials and land much more efficiently than buildings simply built to code or through a standard design process. An agency’s or local jurisdictions facility master plan needs to incorporate high performance building goals as a fundamental initial step. The design process starts with cooperation among building owners, facility managers, users, designers and construction professionals through a collaborative team approach. Each design decision regarding site orientation, design, window location and treatments, lighting, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, insulation, material selection, and controls must be integrated throughout the design, construction and operation in order to create a high performance building. The project relating to construction of High-performance building considers the true cost of a building through the life cycle assessment of each individual building component. The project thus developed aims to minimize demolition and construction wastes and the use of products that minimize waste in their production or disposal. The building is designed to be easily reconfigured and reused as the use of the building changes. The heating and cooling systems should be designed for easy modification to accommodate future mechanical systems. The process will educate building occupants and users to the philosophies, strategies and controls included in the design, construction and maintenance of the project. The paper deals with the basic definition, characteristics and the measurements of the major determinants and attributes of High-performance building.

1.0. High-Performance Building: Definition

Based upon the needs of the building owner the term high performance design could mean different things. Defining it is certainly not easy. A commonly used definition of a high-performance commercial building is a building with energy, economic, and environmental performance that is substantially better than standard practice. It is far more energy efficient and it saves money and natural resources. It’s a healthy place to live and work for its occupants and has relatively low impact on the environment. There is an inherent conflict in some of the above goals and it is imperative that we find the sweet spot for each project building holistically and cohesively.  “The best sustainable designs are not just environmentally responsible. They produce buildings where employees can thrive and productivity can soar. We call these high performance green buildings.” – U.S. Green Building Council

High-performance buildings:

  • Are safe, comfortable and efficient
  • Help owners and occupants achieve their business mission
  • Use design and operating standards that are created, measured and continually validated to deliver established outcomes within specified tolerances
  • Are created using a unique methodology – combining financial, operating and energy analysis with specialized service offers and available financing
  • Meet specific standards for energy and water use, system reliability and uptime, environmental compliance, occupant comfort and safety and other success factors
  • Are designed with LEED and Energy Star principles in mind
  • Take lifecycle and asset management to a new level without establishing new industry standards or ratings
  • Will meet new green building design standards proposed by ASHRAE, USGBC and IES

High-Performance Buildings have Whole Building and Whole Lifecycle Approach in the following manner:

  • Typical buildings have occupied lives of 50-75 years or longer
  • Operating costs typically account for 60-85% of building lifecycle costs – compared to 5-10% for design and construction costs
  • High performance buildings reduce lifecycle costs so companies can invest in other priorities and make buildings “assets” instead of “expenses”
  • Performance standards are created, measured and continually validated to deliver the desired outcomes
  • Standards based on desired performance levels and industry benchmarks are typically set for:
  • Energy and water consumption
  • System reliability
  • Environmental compliance
  • Occupant health, safety and comfort

The definitions of high performance buildings vary widely, not only in the quality of the defined requirements, but also regarding the calculation methods used. Here, examples for both the use of the current national energy performance calculation methods (lider A, 3-litre-house) and for calculation methods that differ from the nationally applied standards, such as the passive house, can be found. In this case, the houses cannot simply be sorted into the different certification scheme labels within the country. It also has to be mentioned that some of the definitions only cover part of the energy uses that have to be assessed according to the EPBD. For example, not all of them include domestic hot water or cooling energy use. Few of the definitions are based on primary energy (for example, the 3-litre-house, which gives a calculated primary energy consumption, is a notable exception) or on CO2 emissions.

Many of the terms for high performance buildings are defined descriptively only, and are sometimes accompanied with rough or relative benchmarks. An example for this is the low energy house, which is understood in most countries as a building with a calculated energy consumption that is significantly lower than the national requirements. This can be regarded as an informal definition, and was -and still is applied differently in different countries, sometimes even within the same country. For example, in Germany, within a former market launch programme, the definition included a required reduction ratio compared to the national requirements that was fixed differently in the various federal states in order to apply for tax reductions. However, a positive result of such open definitions is that they can be adapted to updates of the national energy performance requirements. As a result, the absolute energy performance of a low energy building in, for example, Austria, cannot be compared to that of a low energy building in Sweden, because not only the national boundary conditions such as climate, calculation method, default values, etc. are different, but also because the required ratio (if defined) will probably differ. However, the relative performance, as a ratio of the national requirements, can be compared. In some countries, the term low energy house and its definition were used in the past, but have been replaced by other terms some years ago.

Other terms such as eco- buildings do not include any quantitative definition which allows an interpretation that differs from country to country. Eco-buildings are defined by the European Commission as “meeting point of short-term development and demonstration in order to support legislative and regulatory measures for energy efficiency and enhanced use of renewable energy solutions within the building sector, which go beyond the Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings. Double approach: to reduce substantially, and, if possible, to avoid the demand for heating, cooling and lighting, and to supply the necessary heating, cooling and lighting in the most efficient way and based, as far as possible, on renewable energy sources and poly-generation.” This may be one reason why this term for high performance buildings is only used in rather few of the countries.

An example of a high performance building term with a rather exact quantitative definition is the passive house. Several countries (Austria, Germany, Czech Republic and Denmark) use the same definition, which was developed by a private organisation for the German building market:

  • Maximum calculated net energy use for heating: 15 kWh/m2yr
  • Maximum total calculated primary energy consumption: 120 kWh/m2a (incl. equipment)
  • Required air-tightness value: n50 = 0, 6 1/h

A high-performance green building can be thought of as a living organism, and as with all living things, it must have a nurturing environment to achieve sustained health and performance over its life. Such buildings are designed for economic and environmental performance over time, with an appreciation for unique local climate and cultural needs, ultimately providing for the health, safety, and productivity of building occupants. Architectural, systems, and end-use design, coupled with continual care and monitoring, lead to lower energy use, reduced CO2 emissions, and focused environmental stewardship while providing long term value to the community, building occupants, and building owners. Triple bottom line benefits can be expected-measurable benefits for people, profit, and the planet. In addition, high-performance green buildings have intelligent connections with energy sources, including the smart grid, and increasingly are vital components of sustainable, smart urban plans that leverage symbiotic, whole system design principles to minimize waste and maximize efficiency (http://www2.schneider-electric.com/documents/support/white-papers/buildings/Why-Invest-in-High-Performance-Green-Buildings.pdf).

High performance in the building sector is most often calibrated to energy efficiency, more specifically, energy efficiency during the operations phase of a building. Human health and productivity are also frequent considerations of contemporary architecture, and certainly essen¬tial to the high-performance building dialog. Energy performance, health and productivity are also fundamental elements of sustainability. In fact, a review of the literature reveals that high performance is often regarded as synonymous with sustainability. While energy consumption and resulting emissions are a central issue, comprehensive assessment of building performance yields a far more complex set of considerations. New buildings today are often erroneously labeled high performance. Buildings that do legitimately qualify for high-performance standing may not meet the true measure of sustainability.


2.0. Characteristics of a High Performance Building

High-performance building, as opposed to the ordinary building has the following characteristics and special and differentiating attributes:

  • Cost effectiveness. Lifecycle costs, cost/benefit analysis and ROI over expected lifespan
  • Safety and security. Safety and security of occupants and impact of building failure on the community
  • Sustainability. Integrated design, energy performance, water conservation, indoor environmental quality and reduced impact of materials
  • Accessibility. Recognizing and addressing different accessibility needs
  • Functionality. Ensuring that the building fulfills its intended purpose and meets occupants’ needs
  • Productivity. Enabling occupants to do their best work and contribute to achieving the organization’s goals
  • Historic preservation. Reusing or adopting building shells, materials, etc. to preserve cultural heritage
  • Aesthetics. Contributing to the productivity of employees, reputation of the owner and operator, and quality of life in the community

High-performance building’s Goal is to Enhance Operation Effectiveness in the following manner:

  • High performance buildings are designed, constructed, operated and maintained to enhance organization and occupant effectiveness
  • Providing a safer, healthier, more comfortable environment
  • Operating reliably with minimum unscheduled downtime and fast recovery
  • Maintaining performance within acceptable tolerances throughout their lifespan
  • Enhancing organization and occupant performance, retaining/increasing in value and adding luster to the organization’s brand and reputation

High Performance Building is an enabler of good Maintenance, and Performance on following counts:

  • Holistic, technology-enabled, knowledge-based approach is integral to establishing and sustaining standards throughout a building’s occupied lifespan
  • Embracing predictive building maintenance strategies
  • Establishing and maintaining sound operating metrics
  • Adopting performance-based service concepts

All High Performance Building extends benefits by virtue of the following attributes:

  • Human performance – Studies show high performance buildings enhance occupant productivity, comfort and morale
  • Organizational performance – High performance buildings enable organizations to apply their resources to other priorities and improve results
  • Property values – High performance buildings command premium rents, enjoy higher occupancy rates and sell for more on the open market
  • Brand and reputation – High performance buildings help organizations attract and retain employees, students, customers and community supporters
  • Improved Work Environment – Thermal, Visual and Acoustic Comfort
  • Increased Productivity – Productivity gains between 6% and 16% – Improved Scholastic Achievement and Attendance – Increased Retail Sales
  • Increased Employee Satisfaction – Retain Good Employees
  • Reduced Operating Costs – Energy, Operation, and Maintenance
  • Reduced Liability Exposure – High Air Quality, Less Sick Building, Mold
  • Protection of Natural Resources – Positive influence on environment

High-performance building specializes in Restoring, Sustaining Design Specifications if we consider the following aspects:

  • “Re-commissioning” has become a mainstream concept
  • Many buildings fail to live up to standards their designers envisioned – even when new
  • Most buildings “drift” from original parameters and perform less efficiently as their functions change, equipment wears and controls strategies deviate from original design intentions

High-performance building provides cushion for Control Strategy Improvements by proving the following special amenities:

Air handling systems (HVAC)

  • Temperature setup/setback
  • Sensors that are out of calibration, especially OA sensors
  • Synchronizing the mechanical equipment with building occupancy
  • Economizers that haven’t been maintained
  • Discharge air reset
  • Static pressure reset
  • Demand Control Ventilation
  • Dirty condenser and evaporator coils and filters

Chilled water systems

  • Chilled and condenser water reset
  • Optimal start/stop of major equipment
  • Cooling tower optimization
  • Fan and pump speed drives

Heating systems

  • Boiler hot water reset

Supporting four performance pillars:

  • Energy, water and operational cost reductions
  • Operational sustainability
  • Occupant health and welfare
  • System reliability and equipment uptime

Heating and Cooling Energy:

  • Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) May be the largest user of Energy in Your Building
  • Typically Heating and Cooling Commercial Buildings is Responsible for about 50% of Building Energy use „
  • Lighting Energy
  • Lighting Energy may be the Second Largest user of Energy
  • Lighting Energy is typically about 25% of Building Energy Use
  • Lighting Energy is typically about 40% of Building Energy Cost
  • Reducing Lighting energy reduces Cooling Energy Requirements

Office Equipment Energy

  • Office Equipment may consume 15 to 25% of the Building Energy Use
  • Reducing Office Equipment energy also reduces Cooling Energy

High-Performance building is in effect a Bottom-Line Case to take a lead role in energy efficiency, environmental performance, organizational performance and service strategy as shown below:

High-performance buildings increase comfort, productivity, and learning in the following manner:

Working environments have a significant impact on employee productivity, and green buildings offer better day lighting, outdoor views, and indoor air quality for occupants to enjoy. These features of a healthy work environment help to attract and retain employees. Moreover, occupant comfort and satisfaction reduces sick time, improves workplace occupancy rates (office spaces are typically unoccupied 30% of the time) and most importantly, improves productivity. Since salaries represent 85% of total office buildings business cost over a 25 year period, productivity is by far the highest financial factor in office building performance. In fact, according to The Impact of Office Design on Business Performance, it has been estimated that “a 2-5 percent increase in staff performance can cover the total cost of providing their accommodation (The Impact of Office Design on Business Performance, published by The Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment (CABE) and British Council for Offices, May 2005. This report was based in part on research done by DEGW).”

That same report states that “differences in productivity as high as 25 per-cents have been reported between comfortable and uncomfortable staff.” Green buildings can improve staff comfort by reducing drafts, minimizing floor-to-ceiling temperature stratification, controlling noise, improving indoor air quality, and providing day-lighting and views. Furthermore, many green buildings enable room level control and direct personal control of individual spaces and offices, thus meeting the diverse needs of occupants. Additionally, individuals often benefit psychologically from knowing they have control over their workspace environment. In fact, the healthier environment provided by green buildings has been shown to result in less illness, reduced absenteeism, and lower employee turnover. At Genzyme’s headquarters in the U.S., several environmental features have made employees happier and more productive: sick time was reduced by 5%, 88% of employees reported improved well-being, and 72% of employees reported improved alertness and productivity (Findings from a post-occupancy survey, reported on Genzyme Center’s website on the Value page. http://www.genzymecenter.com/).

3.0. The Building Blocks of High Performance Buildings

Our economy, our health, and our environment are significantly affected by the buildings we occupy. High performance buildings (HPBs) address human, environmental, economic, and total societal needs in a whole building design. They achieve maximum energy savings by taking into consideration site, energy, materials, indoor air quality, acoustics, and natural resources. HPBs are the result of the highest levels of design, construction, operation, and maintenance principles-a paradigm change for the built environment. Also described as “green” or “sustainable,” an HPB generally refers to any building that performs better than a conventional one in metrics related to energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), HPBs are based on the ideal of a net zero energy building (NZEB), i.e., a building that produces at least as much energy as it consumes, using on-site, renewable energy sources. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have established an energy savings target of 30 percent as the first step in the process toward achieving NZEB (https://www.nema.org/Communications/Documents/hpbBooklet4web.pdf).

In the U.S., approximately 60 percent of all raw materials are dedicated to building construction and related infrastructure. Five million buildings account for 72 percent of total electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy use, and 38 percent of CO2 emissions annually. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that energy consumption will increase by more than

30 percent by 2030 as new buildings are constructed. Compared to conventional alternatives, HPBs offer energy efficiency and higher rates of productivity by occupants, who credit better lighting and HVAC systems. Lighting alone enhances productivity 7 percent, and individual temperature control enhances productivity 4 percent (https://www.nema.org/Communications/Documents/hpbBooklet4web.pdf).

3.1. Scope for innovative New Design and additional Retrofits

Building design, the most critical step in achieving an HPB, relies on sitting, envelope integrity, operations, maintenance, equipment, lighting, occupant productivity, safety, security, and integrated systems to create an energy efficient, smart end product. For example, sitting a building to maximize day-lighting reduces the cost of lighting for the lifetime of the building; optimizing building envelope design reduces heating and cooling costs. Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) is paramount to achieving energy efficiency. In HPBs, energy-efficient design begins with heating and cooling loads-the result of climate, people, and equipment. With all loads minimized, HVAC systems can then be selected based on highest output for lowest energy consumption.

Smart building systems integrate sensors, controls, and inputs that optimize comfort and energy efficiency. Advanced energy storage technologies offer better control of market demand on the electrical grid via better management and implementation of demand response, peak shaving, transmission capacity optimization, and energy-control management. Designing intelligent power management systems and specifying high performance products are necessary to achieve energy and sustainability goals. Stronger, performance-based building codes that are easy to implement will also encourage energy reduction. And while adoption of energy codes is the responsibility of state and local governments, the federal government needs to provide incentives to adopt and enforce such codes. Several movements have risen to develop buildings whose economic, energy, and environmental attributes are substantially more energy efficient. While all the technologies, products, and systems to create an HPB are readily available, a major challenge will be to use them to retrofit existing facilities.

3.2. High Performance Building Council (HPBC)’s Contribution: A Case study

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)’s High Performance Building Council (HPBC) has been established to incorporate NEMA energy-efficient products into the building design process, perform internal assessments of member products and services that are applicable to HPBs, and create a matrix of products and systems that fit into other rating systems.

NEMA has already worked closely with NIBS and other organizations to define HPB attributes. They are outlined in a 2008 report to Congress, which can be found at www. wbdg.org/pdfs/hpb_report.pdf.

The High Performance Building Council (HPBC) is working, through industry consensus, to establish metrics for high-performance buildings. By establishing a precise measurement of what the goal is, it becomes much easier to gauge the steps to achievement. With clear parameters, the Council will be better able promote the harmonization of industry standards to achieve high-performance buildings and encourage their production throughout the United States (https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nibs.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/NIBS_Factsheet_FPS_HPBC.pdf).

While HPBC’s most important goal is identifying business opportunities for NEMA members and offering solutions to challenges raised by energy-efficiency goals, the council will also:

  • Engage in public policy through legislative efforts, active participation in caucuses, coalitions, and briefings to Congress and agencies
  • Advise DOE on reducing energy consumption and improving environmental impact
  • Research and promote R&D credits for HPB product manufacturers
  • Promote conformance with Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) requirements
  • Disseminate information on federal tax incentives for HPB systems as well as federal and state funding for demo projects
  • Create a value proposition that includes electrical system considerations
  • Develop codes, standards, and guidance publications for electrical systems

HPBC’s major contributions may be summed up in the following illustration:

3.3. High Performance Buildings and Smart Grid

The power grid is the backbone of modern civilization, a complex society with often conflicting energy needs-more electricity but fewer fossil fuels, increased reliability yet lower energy costs, more secure distribution with less maintenance, effective new construction and efficient disaster reconstruction. But while demand for electricity has risen drastically, its transmission and distribution is outdated and stressed. This has created the need for the next generation of the power grid-Smart Grid.

Smart Grid is all about adding “intelligence” to aging infrastructure and delivery systems, from the power plant to the appliances inside our homes and the systems inside our commercial and industrial buildings. Its basic premise is to add monitoring, analysis, control, and communication capabilities to the national electricity delivery system. This in turn can maximize the output of equipment, help utilities lower costs, improve reliability, decrease interruptions, and reduce energy consumption. In addition, building managers and systems will have greater control over energy usage and ultimately, greater control over energy costs.

As a member-focused standards-developing organization, NEMA- the Association of Electrical and Medical Imaging Equipment Manufacturers-has committed its full support to the evolution of the national electric grid. NEMA believe that these changes are critical as we endeavor to meet increasingly higher standards in reliability, security, cost of service, power quality, efficiency, environmental impact, and safety. Throughout the Smart Grid deployment process, NEMA will be actively working to identify the underlying standards and protocols necessary to support the implementation of our members’ products (https://www.smartgrid.gov/files/Smart_Grid_Building_On_Grid_NEMA.pdf). The U.S. government is at the epicenter of Smart Grid implementation. EISA.07 specifically addresses Smart Grid in Title 13 and requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to coordinate the development of a Smart Grid interoperability framework and standards. NIST is working with DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), NEMA, and many other organizations to make Smart Grid a reality.

Department of Energy (DOE) has identified seven characteristics that are critical to the success of Smart Grid:

Enable new products, services, and markets: As new products and services related to end-use energy management continue to evolve, new markets will emerge to take advantage of the value created by improved energy efficiency. The key to enabling participation in new energy markets lies in linking the demand for electricity to the price of electricity in real time.

Provide power quality for the range of needs in a digital economy: Because of the enhanced capabilities of advanced electric meters, technology will, for the first time, enable utilities to monitor voltage at the point of electricity delivery for all customers on their systems by the following means:

  • Enable active participation by consumers. Having the ability to monitor electricity usage in real time gives consumers meaningful feedback on how their habits affect cost. It provides them with the opportunity to make more informed decisions about how and when they consume electricity.
  • Accommodate all generation and storage options. Supporting the connection and use of distributed generation and/or energy storage requires the accurate measurement of actual energy supplied by distributed energy resources. This includes distributed storage devices as well as generation resources like solar, wind, and standby generation.

3.4. Innovative Building Management Systems

A building management system (BMS) is the centralized, computer-based brain of an HPB, with thousands of coordinated sensors working as an interactive nervous system. The core function of the BMS is to monitor a building’s mechanical and electrical equipment. It manages the environment via electromechanical systems; energy monitoring; lighting; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; levels of oxygen and human-generated carbon dioxide; fire and security systems; continuing operations; and other issues that can be addressed under the larger tent of interoperability. A BMS controls, monitors, and optimizes the building’s facilities for comfort and safety. The benefits are indisputable in terms of energy efficiency, cost containment, comfort, productivity, flexibility, and security (https://www.nema.org/Communications/Documents/hpbBooklet4web.pdf).

Performance differences have been well documented. Lighting controls, HVAC, and other major systems that employ design and advanced components have an enormous impact on not only energy usage, but on user comfort and productivity. Systems linked to a BMS typically represent

about 70 percent of a building’s energy usage (lighting alone contributes about 30 percent of the total). Thus, performance attributes of key components are critical to overall operations. Specifying high performance components that interact in a system designed to deliver performance contributes to a sum that is greater than its individual parts.

The BMS design ideally integrates the building’s efficiency with individual occupants’ comfort and productivity. Efficiency ratings are available for HVAC systems as a whole, but individual components, like high-efficiency motors incorporated into the system, can make a significant difference. Other systems to consider in the design process are people movers-elevators and escalators. Elevators contribute to building high performance with high-efficiency motors that, when coupled with drive systems, can extract the highest performance from an efficiency standpoint. Escalators typically run continuously, so the key aspect is specification of not only a high-efficiency motor to power the escalator, but also the “right-sized” high efficiency motor and adjustable speed drive.

Along with controlling the building’s internal environment, the BMS is sometimes linked to access control (turnstiles and doors that control who is allowed access and egress) or other security systems, like closed-circuit televisions and motion detectors. Fire alarm systems and elevators are also sometimes linked to a BMS. For example, if a fire is detected, the system could shut off dampers in the ventilation system to keep smoke from spreading and send all the elevators to the ground floor and park them to prevent people from using them. In addition to design and specification, another important aspect in any discussion of HPBs is continued monitoring and maintenance of the BMS. It is usually delivered as a fully integrated system that may be linked to enterprise management software (http://www.tyrrellsystems.com/services/building-systems-integration/)..

3.5. Emerging Technologies

3.5.1. Digital Lighting Controls

When integrated with the building design, digital lighting controls enable an intelligent, optimized system that maximizes energy efficiency. This offers distinct advantages in an HPB, like simplified wiring, local and global zone control, and even two-way communication. When lighting controls are used properly, energy will be saved and the life of lamps and ballasts can be extended. Advanced lighting control systems entail:

  • Reduce energy
  • Self configure to the most energy-efficient operation
  • Provide convenient, energy-saving control of dimmed and switched loads
  • Monitor lighting and plug load
  • Are easy, fast, and economical to install and use

3.5.2. High-Efficiency Transformers

Transformers are an integral part of any HPB; electrical distribution directly affects energy consumption. DOE defines a transformer as “a device consisting of two or more coils of insulated wire that transfers alternating current by electromagnetic induction from one coil to another to change the original voltage or current value.” In simple language, a transformer just converts one electrical voltage to a different voltage to run a particular piece of equipment. High-efficiency transformers, typically dry-type transformers, are used in building electrical distribution systems to step-down incoming building voltage to a specific voltage, such as 277 volts to power lighting and other specialty systems. Much of the remaining building load, including heating and cooling systems, elevators, pumps, etc., are served at the same voltage as the building’s main electrical supply. Building transformers should be selected by lifecycle costs or total owning cost instead of first cost because building transformers typically last for 20 to 40 years and because the cost of the energy consumed by the transformer is significantly higher than the incremental cost of a high-efficiency transformer

3.5.3. Signaling Protection Devices, Security Systems and Emergency Systems

HPBs are designed for energy efficiency, comfort and productivity, and safety. Protecting a building’s occupants starts with risk assessment of all mitigating factors, including fire safety, intrusion detection, access control, video monitoring, appropriate equipment, operational procedures, and personnel. Many building automation systems have alarm capabilities that can be programmed to notify a computer, pager, or cellular phone, in addition to sounding an audible signal.

Smoke and Fire

Fire protection and smoke detection save lives and reduce costs. Detection performance in HPBs has taken safety to state-of-the-art status with the development of multi-criteria technology. As the name suggests, these products use sensors to detect threats from several fire phenomena (e.g., visible/invisible and black/white smoke, aerosols, and temperature). The technology has an improved capability to distinguish between actual threats (e.g., fire, toxic gases) and deceptive phenomena (e.g., humidity, dust, cigarette smoke, welding, and spray aerosols). The use of multi-criteria smoke detectors actually translates to considerable savings: the more criteria examined by the smoke detector, the smaller the chance of unwanted alarms. And unwanted alarms are costly. Some studies equate paying 100 employees for one hour as the minimum expense to evacuate, check, and ascertain the safety of a building.

Alarms and Security

Fire alarm systems, lighting, ventilation, elevators, and other systems may all be linked through the building management system. For example, if a fire is detected, the BMS can send all the elevators to the ground floor while audio systems direct individuals to leave the premises. The integration of these systems helps to ensure safety in the midst of a critical situation. Security is a vital part of an HPB. Video surveillance systems, especially those enhanced with Internet protocols, can track and identify threats to a facility; access building controls; detect intruders, floods, and fires; and prevent sensitive materials from getting in the wrong hands. They also aid in protecting employees from harassment or attack as well as send out calls for assistance.

High Performance Safety

Sophisticated security systems of HPB may include:

  • Access control (turnstiles and doors)
  • Monitored windows and doors
  • Motion detectors
  • Closed-circuit television
  • Automatic lights

Signaling protection and communication devices include:

  • Audible and visual signals (bells, horns, speakers, and strobes)
  • Automatic detectors for fire protection and other life safety hazards (heat, smoke, flame, gas, biohazard detectors, etc.)
  • Smoke, carbon monoxide, and combination alarms

This contemporary understanding of the building skin has fundamentally changed the way in which architects approach building design, having shifted questions of performance away from the traditional formal and physical properties of building envelopes to reposition the discourse within a more expansive definition of how they behave. These new parameters have resulted in increased architectural collaboration with the disciplines of mechanical and electrical engineering, computing and the physical and social sciences.

3.5.4. The Human Factor in Building Performance

A responsive building skin is one that facilitates co-evolutionary interaction between the building, the inhabitant and the environment in a meaningful way. One of the primary performance mandates for high-performance envelopes has been energy optimization and reduction in the use of resources. Yet research has shown that while approximately half of the energy used in the home depends on its physical characteristics and equipment, the behavior of its resident’s accounts for the balance. Moreover, in a study including extended monitoring of energy use patterns in a community of ‘Zero Energy Houses’ in California, results showed that while the energy efficient and energy producing features of the buildings were effective at reducing the energy consumption, the patterns of energy use by inhabitants remained identical to those of neighbors in non-Zero energy houses (https://books.google.co.in/books?isbn=1135874913). In spite of living in high-performance sustainable buildings, residents did not change their consumption habits in any significant way.

Motivations for saving energy may vary. However, availability of information and feedback loops are effective means for encouraging building occupants to develop more energy-conscious lifestyles and building use patterns. In a “responsive” design paradigm, where building, inhabitant and environment are all agents, the positive and negative feedback loops that individuals have with their built environment, the active co-evolution that they necessarily share with it, as well as the agency of both buildings and their inhabitants, are all potentially powerful tools for promoting social change. They not only increase the intelligence of building systems, but the “intelligence” of their inhabitants as well. Given residential buildings in the United States account for nearly 57 percent of building energy use, and that the home is a central site of habit forming behavior, residential buildings may prove to be an ideal place for advancing developments in responsive envelope systems. With emphasis on adaptability, the high-performance skin has the capacity to learn over time and in so doing can form ongoing and emergent relationships with its inhabitants. In this way, responsive envelopes can significantly impact the definition of building performance by forging a new cognitive framework for buildings, their inhabitants and the larger environment.

3.5.5. Inducing Inclusive Sustainability

Disregard of the size, usage or budget, every project can make a sustainable difference to the environment. In this regard, we also need to find the right balance and how to effectively and efficiently apply concepts of sustainability to every project. This also means an opportunity for research and development in new technologies. Every project can do any or all of the following (Figure 1):

These can be achieved through smart site planning, efficient building design and strategic materials & systems selection while recognizing regional environmental priorities. The costs of not going green and high performance are gaining significance in today’s context. Two factors that profoundly change the way we view sustainable buildings are energy and water. With issues of global warming and climate change being brought to the forefront we are not only going to be looking at just initial and operating costs but also international issues such as a carbon emissions tax. Add the increasing cost of energy and this can be a double sided pressure that makes it impossible to ignore green and high performance buildings.

Sustainable building emphasizes a “whole system” perspective and considers the construction process and first costs, toward the life of a building and the longer term interest of the owners and occupants. Figure 2 shows the concept of building life cycle and the four major aspects of sustainable construction, namely, energy, water, waste and materials. Sustainable design takes into account the energy and environmental performance of the building during its complete life cycle, including site selection, construction, operations and maintenance, renovations, demolition and replacement (https://www.researchgate.net/figure/252462829_fig1_Figure-1-Building-life-cycle-and-sustainable-construction).

These can be achieved through smart site planning, efficient building design and strategic materials & systems selection while recognizing regional environmental priorities. The costs of not going green and high performance are gaining significance in today’s context. Two factors that profoundly change the way we view sustainable buildings are energy and water. With issues of global warming and climate change being brought to the forefront we are not only going to be looking at just initial and operating costs but also international issues such as a carbon emissions tax. Add the increasing cost of energy and this can be a double sided pressure that makes it impossible to ignore green and high performance buildings.

Sustainable building emphasizes a “whole system” perspective and considers the construction process and first costs, toward the life of a building and the longer term interest of the owners and occupants. Figure 2 shows the concept of building life cycle and the four major aspects of sustainable construction, namely, energy, water, waste and materials. Sustainable design takes into account the energy and environmental performance of the building during its complete life cycle, including site selection, construction, operations and maintenance, renovations, demolition and replacement (https://www.researchgate.net/figure/252462829_fig1_Figure-1-Building-life-cycle-and-sustainable-construction).

3.5.6. Smart Building Automation System (SBAS)

Building intelligence starts with monitoring and controlling information services known as ‘Smart Building Automation System (SBAS)’. Smart building automation project is an integrated building solution system that facilitates lighting control, heating, air conditioning (HVAC) and access control to share information and strategies with an eye to reduce energy consumption, improve energy efficiency management, provide value-added functionality and make the building easier to operate. An integrated system can not only increase energy and operational efficiency, but it can also provide a level of occupant control unmatched by single-purpose, non-integrated systems (Figure 3).

SBAS Architecture

Building automation and control systems rely on many sensors and actuators placed at different locations throughout a building. Reducing the power consumption of a modern building requires continuous monitoring of various environmental parameters inside and outside the building. The key requirement for an efficient monitoring and controlling is that all sensors and actuators are addressable over the network (http://www.mistralsolutions.com/newsletter/Jan14/Application-Home_Automation.pdf). SBAS includes a collection of sensors that determine the condition or status of parameters to be controlled, such as lighting, temperature, relative humidity, and pressure. An action based on the sensor data received by the control unit is imparted to a device like electric relays or damper and valve actuators via electronic signals to activate physical action to control the devices. In this application note, we will provide a design overview for the SBAS Control Unit.

Intelligent Features

The SBAS enables intelligent features such as:

Air flow control: When occupants in the room increase, the thermostat will sense the increase in the room temperature. Control unit will open its damper allowing more air to the room, which will cause a drop in the duct static pressure sensed by the duct static pressure sensor. In order to maintain the static pressure in the duct, the SBAS activates the VSD to increase the fan speed which builds up the duct pressure to the desire point. Temperature and fan control system: When the control unit is not functioning, the SBAS detects and communicates the ‘OFF’ status of the unit, thus shutting it down. For example, if the room temperature is fixed at 25 degree Celsius, but the actual room temperature is 27 degree Celsius, SBAS will open the chilled water valve. Once the temperature falls below 25 degree Celsius, the SBAS will shut the valve.

Lighting System: The Lighting System can be controlled using motion and detection sensors that detect occupancy and motion. On/Off switches can be configured based on pre-defined time schedules. Daylight-linked automated response systems can also be incorporated in to the system.

Benefits: Increased energy efficiency can save a substantial amount of costs by effectively controlling equipment use. In addition, it is far easier to monitor aspects of the system for potential problems or provide preventative maintenance

Streamlined Operations Management

Smart building automation greatly reduces operational expenses and the hassle of installing and operating multiple autonomous building systems Managers and operators can view data from all over the facility and make quick changes or provide preventative maintenance

Lower installation costs and Lower failure rates and downtime Quick and effective service

Building Management can provide better services to occupants and users. Accessing building systems via remote makes it easier for facilities professionals to assess real-time conditions, detect problems, and monitor building performance off-site

Data accuracy and report generation

More accurate data monitoring and control of energy intensive systems like HVAC and lighting, and statistical data report generation help keep costs in check (Figure 4).

Customer Attraction and Retention

Smart buildings can demand above-market rents, have lower vacancy rates, and can have reduced turnover through higher customer service, added technologies, and increased efficiency.

Environment Friendly

Monitoring and control of energy use for the purpose of reducing consumption defines a green building. While it may be possible to have a green building that is not smart, most green buildings will have some form of a building automation system (SBAS).

Economizing Product cost

The entire system comprises of a compact unit, integrated interface and conferencing into a single device, which saves on BoM and production cost for the customer.


The Part II will be continued in the next edition


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here