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Recommendations to President, Congress Prioritize Building Industry Concerns

Thursday, May 26, 2011  
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A new report from the National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council identifies five primary areas of concern regarding the nation's buildings and infrastructure, and provides recommendations for action. Topics include: Defining High-Performance and Common Metrics; Energy and Water Efficiency; Codes and Standards Adoption and Enforcement; Sustainability; and Education and Training.

The National Institute of Building Sciences enabling legislation established the Consultative Council as an important link among disciplines in the field of building technology. The Council engages the leadership of key organizations with the intent of providing findings and recommendations for the advancement of the built environment. The Council report represents the collective vision of these leading organizations from across the building community.

"Given the many services we ask our buildings and infrastructure to perform, it is essential that the many disciplines and organizations responsible for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of buildings work together to identify overarching needs that can lead to widespread high-performance buildings,” said Ryan Colker, Director of the Consultative Council and Presidential Advisor at the Institute. "The Council's initial report reflects this collective thinking and has the potential to significantly influence policymakers and the building community.”

The Council recommendations identify cross-cutting issues essential for reaching building industry goals. Specific recommendations include:

  • The need to establish common definitions to guide measurement and expression of actual performance;
  • Energy codes and standards should shift from prescriptive requirements towards performance-based provisions aimed at ultimately achieving net-zero energy use;
  • Investment in energy and water related infrastructure is desperately needed and will vastly improve efficiencies and create jobs;
  • Increased participation by federal, state and local government agencies would yield more uniformity and consistently adopted and understood codes, and increase the effectiveness of model building codes;
  • At the state and local level, financial and technical resources must be available to ensure code and standard requirements are followed;
  • Achieving sustainability requires addressing the triple bottom line of economic growth, environmental stewardship and social progress in all building and infrastructure projects;
  • Public construction should address life-cycle costs and benefits, while accounting, financing, insurance and tax policies should facilitate and promote private investments in sustainable buildings and infrastructure;
  • Education and training should be aimed at facilitating the entire life-cycle of buildings, from concept to design, construction, commissioning, occupancy, modification/renovation, and deconstruction; and
  • Education and training incentive programs should be available to cover all levels and types of businesses and organizations, and should encompass all design, construction, maintenance and operational core competencies.

In 2010, Consultative Council members included: ASTM International; American Institute of Architects; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; Associated General Contractors of America; Building Owners and Managers Association, International; Construction Specifications Institute; ESCO Institute; Extruded Polystyrene Foam Association; Illuminating Engineering Society; International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials; International Code Council; National Insulation Association; National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago; and United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry. Joining the Council in 2011 are the Laborers' International Union of North America and HOK.

The summary of recommendations appears in the Institute's 2010 Annual Report, which is sent to the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress. Visit the Consultative Council web site to download a copy of the complete report.

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