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Institute Testifies on Green Building, High-Performance Building Practices

Wednesday, July 21, 2010  
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If we want to improve our building stock, we must learn to measure performance. But, establishing measurements to achieve high-performance buildings, not just "green” buildings, really needs to be the end goal. That is the message National Institute of Building Sciences President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA, made during his testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement.

Green addressed Chairwoman Diane E. Watson (D-Calif.), Ranking Member Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) and other Subcommittee members during the July 21 hearing on "Green Building Practices in the Public Sector: Progress and Challenges to Date.” Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, under which the Subcommittee resides, also participated.

The Subcommittee hearing focused on addressing "green” or sustainable attributes in federal buildings. Green's testimony encouraged the Committee and the federal government to look beyond sustainability and include other attributes that contribute to the enhanced life span of buildings.

Although "green” is the current hot topic, other attributes are just as important over the life of the building. Green explained that federal agencies have to meet requirements related to high-performance building attributes beyond sustainability. Agencies have to follow laws and executive orders (including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Historic Preservation Act) that address attributes such as accessibility, historic preservation, safety and security. However, no common metrics currently exist to measure when individual attributes are achieved within a building or to understand how addressing one attribute impacts another.

Green recommended the use of the Institute's High Performance Building Council, with its broad-based membership, to facilitate coordination and cooperation within the building industry to establish high-performance building metrics.

He also pointed out how the federal agencies themselves can work to achieve the goal of high-performance buildings by coordinating expertise, sharing best practices across agencies, educating and training their construction and facility maintenance personnel, employing technologies like building information modeling (BIM), and implementing practices such as commissioning and integrated design.

Read Green's full written testimony to the Subcommittee.


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