Measuring Building Performance for a Green Future

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As we become more aware of our impact on the environment as a society and we are more concerned about our "carbon footprint”, it is becoming increasingly necessary to measure the performance of our buildings. Measuring the sustainability of buildings, and determining how green a building is, is important because it helps to determine the impact on our health and wellbeing as well as the cost savings that can be expected from greener buildings. You might wonder how, exactly, is the performance of our buildings measured? To answer this question we first have to define what performance is.
Building Performance
A building's performance can be measured on many levels and in different several categories. Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) sets out a standard with its LEED® program by which buildings are given points in various categories on a rating scale. This allows for a standard set of guidelines to go by when becoming a greener building or maintaining a green level that has already been achieved. One of the items that are measured in this system is sustainability. Is this building on a sustainable site, does this area offer a future energy savings. Sustainable sites will be able to see less environmental impact over time. A second item that measures the performance of a building is water use. This encompasses everything from water use inside the building as well as outside. The landscaping is taken in to consideration when determining the effectiveness of water conservation. Energy and atmosphere are another important factor in measuring a building's performance. This category covers areas such as optimal energy performance, renewable energy, green power, and ozone protection. Building materials and resources are used to determine the performance of a building. Materials that are used in building and maintenance are considered. Rapidly renewable resources, as well as materials that have little or no impact on the environment through the use of chemicals to process or preserve them are considered to be greener building options. They are therefore better performers in the green building initiatives. You might not think of the indoor air quality as being a building performance consideration, but it is, and it is a very important one as well. The building occupant's health and wellbeing depends on how well the air quality is maintained within the dwelling. Productivity takes a dramatic downturn when employees become ill, and something as simple as a cold virus could be to blame for cutting in to your bottom line. When you think of air quality in that instance, it suddenly becomes very important in the way your building performs. Along the same lines, your air circulation, and fresh air return capabilities can go a long way to keeping your building free from mold and other contaminants.
Importance of Measuring your Building's Performance
So as you can see, there are several key factors in determining how your building performs. It is importance to measure how well your building performs on all of these levels. The health and wellbeing of the occupants of the building, and people who have the need to visit depends on the maintenance of your building's performance. The cost savings from reducing your impact on the environment is also a significant consideration. Greener buildings save money, energy, and offer a healthier way to live.
Connect with the CaGBC to find out more about LEED certification and measuring building's energy performance.
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