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Energy labelling, disclosure – key drivers in improving building performance

Senior ASHRAE official says commissioning of new buildings and continuous commissioning of existing ones help ensure performance is maintained over time

| | Sep 12, 2017 | 8:41 am
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Energy labelling, the often voluntary assessment of a building’s energy use and comparison to a baseline, and energy disclosure, the general mandatory reporting of building energy use for buildings of a certain size or larger, are helping drive improved performance of buildings. Dr William P Bahnfleth, ASHRAE Presidential Member and Professor of Architectural Engineering at Penn State University, shared this with Climate Control Middle East while discussing the nature of the progress being made towards better building performance. “Commissioning of new buildings and continuous commissioning of existing ones also help to ensure that performance is maintained and, perhaps, improved over time,” he added.

Dr Bahnfleth emphasised that he believes “building performance” implies the actual performance of existing buildings, not so much the potential performance of buildings intended by the designer. That being said, he also touched on the latter, saying that in the United States, ASHRAE Standard 100: ‘Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings’ is also helping improve the performance of buildings and that “standards addressing energy efficiency in design of new buildings continue to become more stringent over time”.

Dr Bahnfleth also spoke about the need for looking at energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality in unison when discussing building performance. “In general, IEQ and energy tend to be treated separately,” he said, “except to the extent that both are weighted in green building ratings, like LEED and ASHRAE Standard 189.1: ‘Standard for the Design of High Performance Green Buildings’.” Dr Bahnfleth said that the Well standard is also attracting a lot of attention as a potential guide to the design and operation of facilities that support human wellbeing in a variety of ways.

Another hot topic in the US, Dr Bahnfleth said, is ‘resiliency’, which includes reliability. He said that though progress is being made in that area, the “increasing complexity of systems always presents at least some risk of unforeseen failure modes”.

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