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.
A building's performance can be measured on many levels
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.