Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to Cherie Preville’s articles “HVAC’s Developing Role in HP Buildings,” and “Lessons Learned from High-Performance Projects,” March 19.

The Definition of High-Performance Buildings

Thanks to Cherie Preville for highlighting the expanding desire to achieve high-performance buildings. As she noted in the article, the building community is beginning to recognize the value of an integrated approach to building and system design and construction.

The National Institute of Building Sciences, through its High-Performance Building Council, has been working across the many sectors and disciplines within the building community to achieve the widespread implementation of high-performance buildings. In this effort, the HVACR community is well represented — representatives from both ASHRAE [American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers] and ACCA [Air Conditioning Contractors of America] serve on the council’s executive committee.

While I agree that the building industry has not yet coalesced on the standards and metrics that define high-performance (which is one of the objectives of the High-Performance Building Council), both the institute and Congress have established definitions for high-performance buildings. As recognized by Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, “High-performance building means a building that integrates and optimizes on a life-cycle basis all major high-performance attributes, including energy conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations.”

As the HVAC contractors Preville spoke with identified, buildings are not just about the efficient use of energy. Optimizing all demands of building owners and occupants will provide buildings that people want to utilize and thus increase the value of a cooperative building industry.

Ryan M. Colker, J.D.
Director of the Consultative Council/Presidential Advisor
National Institute of Building Sciences

Publication date: 04/09/2012