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Institute Bids Farewell to a Pioneering Industry Council

This past week, the National Institute of Building Sciences Board of Directors voted to sunset the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC).

Founded in 1980 as the Passive Solar Industries Council, the independent, non-profit organization that later became the SBIC was a pioneer advocate of the whole building approach to sustainable facilities. The founding members, consisting of major building trade groups, large corporations, small businesses and individual practitioners, understood that energy and resource-efficient design and construction are imperative to a sustainable built environment. The SBIC and its members viewed energy use and sustainability within a larger context of benefits related to productivity and overall efficiency, health and safety, serviceability and other performance factors.

The SBIC participated in a number of cutting-edge efforts, including founding of the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide®. In 1997, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Engineering Innovation and Criteria Office was looking for ways to leverage their shrinking technical and financial resources to update hundreds of paper-based criteria documents relating to construction. SBIC members and staff helped conceptualize the WBDG website, hosted by the National Institute of Building Sciences, to help address this growing problem.

SBIC also served as the exclusive distributor of Energy-10™. For many years, Energy-10™ was the leading energy-modeling tool for small commercial buildings. Developed primarily by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the tool provided improved integration with window data from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and included the ability to model some additional heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system types. The SBIC provided training and technical support, as well as distribution.

Over the decades, the SBIC published several notable guides. The High Performance School Buildings Resource and Strategy Guide explained how to achieve schools that provide better learning environments for students and teachers, cost less to operate and help protect the environment. The Beyond Green™: Guidelines for High-Performance Homes—Meeting the Demand for Low-Energy, Resource-Efficient Homes described the important aspects needed to make a home green. The SBIC also developed Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services for Sustainable Buildings – A Guide for Federal Project Managers, produced under contract to the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).

In addition, the SBIC hosted online courses and workshops on green building and high-performance schools. For five years at the turn of the millennium, SBIC conducted a series of two-day workshops for FEMP and NAVFAC that looked at design strategies for low-energy, sustainable and secure buildings.

To recognize the progress the industry was making, the SBIC began an awards program. First called the Best Practice Sustainability Awards, the awards program is now known as the Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building and Community Awards.

SBIC’s ideas continued to be reflected in the WBDG and in federal legislation mandating high-performance buildings, as well as the National Institute of Building Sciences High Performance Building Council (HPBC) agenda.

In late 2011, the original SBIC ceased operations. The Institute’s Board of Directors formed a new SBIC in May 2012 to carry on the mission. For the next five years, the SBIC continued its work to unite and inspire the building industry toward higher performance through education, outreach, advocacy and the mutual exchange of ideas.

In early 2017, the Institute announced that the Board had sunset the HPBC because its mission had permeated into the Institute’s other councils and committees. Similarly, the initial resource-related goals espoused by the SBIC have become widely recognized within the industry through programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the Green Globes certification and the increasing growth in Passive House design and zero-energy buildings. Further, the Institute’s other councils and the WBDG website continue to bring the Beyond Green™ concepts to the broader building industry.

The Institute thanks the members of the SBIC for their role in achieving these significant accomplishments over the past 37 years.

Highlighting the ongoing importance of taking a whole building approach to problem solving, the Institute will continue to host the annual Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building and Community Awards to support the industry in developing solutions to achieve sustainable, high-performance buildings. This unique program recognizes the initiatives that shape, inform and catalyze the high-performance building market, as well as the real-world application of high-performance design and construction practices.

About NIBS

National Institute of Building Sciences brings together labor and consumer interests, government representatives, regulatory agencies, and members of the building industry to identify and resolve problems and potential problems around the construction of housing and commercial buildings. NIBS is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization. It was established by Congress in 1974. For more information, visit or follow @bldgsciences on Twitter and Facebook.

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