How We Look At Building Performance

( December 27th, 2007 )

We can only go up

One of the most comprehensive and significant ways in which we can positively enhance the health of individuals, and society, in relation to their interactions with the built environments that we create is through the applied concept of building performance. Building performance is a broad organization of how these environments affect us. This occurs on both a micro, or personal, level as well as a macro, or broader societal level. At the micro-ergonomic level it has to do with the ways buildings balance human factors and provide basic environmental elements and systems that support health and well-being. This includes lighting and daylighting, thermal comfort, air quality, acoustics and privacy. While these all seem like logical qualitative elements of a healthy environment, we all know that they still go largely disregarded. With this is the macro-environment of a building, or how it performs in relation to the whole and in relation to the greater community. Ideally, a building that adheres to certified standards of building performance has been designed with a sustainable agenda and incorporates not only energy savings, but also schema for rain water runoff, waste and recycling, materials life-cycle, and systems that minimize the need for natural resources.

Historically, the science of building performance has done much to honor the perspective and experience of the individual, to ensure that the design of these environments is not in conflict with the health of those who will ultimately inhabit them. More recently, and in line with the larger sustainable movement within design, is how the inclusion of building performance analysis as it impacts the greater environment, and how it exists within this greater context. Taken as a whole this is a sensitive approach to building design, one that embraces constraints that ensure that architecture design is indeed doing no harm. This might sound trivial, but it is a growing movement. Sustainability and human factors are gaining ground within the design of products and services, and those early to this holistic approach are seeing the first financial and productivity based results.

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