ATLANTA - Early involvement by all members of the building team is crucial to the success of high-performing buildings, according to panelists in a new video from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

“You can’t operate efficiently if the building hasn’t been designed with that in mind,” said Don Winston, P.E., director of technical services, The Durst Organization Inc. “The operators will always win in the end. If you don’t design it in a way that it can be operated in accordance with its performance goals, it won’t be…. it really goes back to the design process and a level of cooperation. Everyone has to be in on it, including the operations team, from day zero.”

Lessons learned in sustainable design can now been seen via a free online video at The video is a recording of a special roundtable, “High-Performance Buildings: Lessons from the Leaders,” originally presented at ASHRAE’s 2008 Winter Meeting.

The panelists discuss owner motivations, technical challenges, design choices and trade-offs, costs for these projects, and share perspectives about whether the expectations set early in the design process have been met once the buildings are occupied.

The panelists include representatives of some of New York’s best-known owner/developer firms along with the engineering designers who bring their projects to reality. Their projects include some of the most sustainable buildings in New York City, such as 4 Times Square, the Chrysler Center, One Bryant Park, and theNew York TimesHeadquarters.

“What does high performance mean?”, questions panelist Tom Scarola, director of engineering, Tishman Speyer. “Up until even a few years ago, buildings were designed very prescriptively based on meeting codes, not challenging whether they could perform better. What we do today is called high performance but it is just good and efficient design. It is reasonable to believe that the issue is no longer if it is a high-performance building, the question is how high. Building a high-performance building means never having to say you’re sorry.”

The panelists agree that it is essential that planning for the design, operation, and maintenance of high performing buildings start early and involve all members of the building team. They also agree that designers and engineers should strive to incorporate new technologies and design methods.

“Put behind you what’ve done for the last 20 jobs,” suggests panelist Scott Frank, P.E., partner, Jaros Baum & Bolles. “Get in the habit of saying ‘how can we do this differently,’ ask ‘why not’ at every turn, worship the god of common sense, and be sure every decision and recommendation you make is backed up by rigorous engineering.”

Publication date:04/14/2008