Why the green building industry needs to pay attention to tenants

The most important year in a building’s life is the first year of occupancy. This is when the construction team has pulled their trailers, completed their punch lists, claimed victory and moved on to the next project. This is also when the operations team starts to experience the gap between design intent and actual performance.

Experience suggests it takes years to “tune” a building’s systems and operating procedures to meet theoretical performance expectations, if it ever does.Instrumentation and continuous monitoring capabilities are critical to being able to give the operations team the types of detailed system-level information necessary to identify installation problems, design limitations and to optimize building performance.

Most of the attention in the green building industry, and all of the controversy, is focused on building design and new construction. New construction was an obvious area for the emerging green building industry to take shape a decade ago, driven by the desire of building owners, architects, engineers and contractors to work together to design and construct more sustainable buildings.

Ten years later, the industry needs to shift its attention to demonstrating performance, not just predicting it -- greening tenant spaces, not just base buildings -- and improving existing buildings, not just new ones.This suggests taking a life cycle approach to designing, delivering, operating and improving high performance buildings and tenant spaces.

Delivering high performance tenant spaces

More than half the energy use in commercial buildings is in tenant spaces. Integrated design has been one of the most valuable changes driven by the green building industry. Most would agree that the cost-effective delivery of a high-performance building is highly dependent on the successful collaboration and coordination of the construction team, design professionals and system suppliers.