December 17, 2013
A shift seems to be occurring in the green building industry. Call it whatever you like—green building, sustainability, high-performance buildings, energy efficiency—but the change is there. Rather than a team of engineers, architects, and contractors struggling to work toward an extremely difficult goal of achieving certain performance standards, it’s now the norm to design and build for energy efficiency. Green building isn’t just accepted, it’s expected.
Case in point: ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings and ASHRAE Standard 189.1: Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings require even more stringent energy-efficiency goals, which require commissioning, measurement, verification, and more. The U.S. Green Building Council recently released LEED v4, which sets the bar just a little bit higher and adds details for data centers, existing schools, and other projects to ensure they’re encompassed in the program. International programs, such as BREEAM, Green Globes, and CASBEE, have become the de facto standard as engineers work on global projects.
Climate change, while sometimes still a topic of fierce debate, is pushing government and nongovernment organizations toward increasingly demanding carbon and greenhouse gas emission regulations. Al Gore jokes aside, the truth is that our planet really is changing, and humans have the ability to have an impact on this change.
The shift, however, is not that manufacturers are producing more building products that are energy-efficient. It’s not that buildings owners are working to make their facilities “smarter” or to have more constant-access reporting tools. It’s not that engineers are achieving more accreditations or taking more classes to remind them of these energy efficiency goals.
It’s that green building is now a way of life.
Every building professional I speak with today has worked on a project that had to achieve some energy-efficiency goal. New buildings—data centers, office buildings, industrial facilities—are being designed with lofty (and refreshing) energy goals in mind. They’re being commissioned to ensure proper design, and new tools for constant energy measurement are popping up every day. Existing buildings often offer the most opportunity for improvement; their engineered systems could easily stand for an upgrade effectively reducing the building’s impact on the environment, with the added benefit of rebates and incentives for the owner.
Conferences and education sessions are being built almost entirely around the green building concept, and if the conference isn’t focused on energy efficiency, it certainly has a track geared toward attendees interested in it. Sustainable engineering is seeping into every aspect of the business.
How are you and your firm contributing to the sustainable engineering targets? Share your success stories so that everyone can learn from methods and systems employed. Be sure to have 12 months of performance data to prove this success. Submit your green building project profile to www.csemag.com/how-to-submit.
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