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Institute Releases New Performance-Based Design Guide

Wednesday, May 21, 2014  
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Free Tool Available to the Public via the WBDG

Today, the National Institute of Building Sciences released the first broad-reaching, performance-based standard for use by facility owners and building industry professionals. The National Performance-Based Design Guide (NPBDG) Beta Version 0.5 is a free, online tool, available for reference and public comment through the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide®. The Institute announced the new resource this evening during a reception to celebrate High-Performance Building Week.

In recent years, building owners have been raising their expectations and increasing performance demands for buildings—in the areas of energy consumption, sustainability, security and a host of other factors—to take building performance to a higher level. The challenge, until now, has been that building owners have not had a consistent and quantifiable way to communicate such goals to the team of professionals that design, build and operate their properties.

Developed by the Institute, the NPBDG is based on the recently updated U.S. General Services Administration P-100: Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service. Using the high-performance building principles developed by its High Performance Building Council (HPBC) and work for other federal agencies such as the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, the Institute helped GSA transform the P-100 facility standard from a prescriptive to a performance-based system. Though the content of the NPBDG is based on the P-100, it is applicable and usable by any public or private-sector building owner.

"The NPBDG takes a whole new approach to design guidance,” said HPBC Chair Get Moy. "It provides building owners the opportunity to evaluate trade-offs required to achieve varying levels of building performance; it lets owners focus on how they want the building to perform (versus just the function the building will serve); and, in turn, the NPBDG offers a design-construct team a reliable tool to help identify and implement the best strategies to meet those goals.”

The NPBDG uses four levels of performance defined in matrices. "Baseline” performance is the lowest permissible level, commensurate with the minimum code requirements used in most communities across the United States. The three higher performance levels, Tier 1 High Performance, Tier 2 High Performance and Tier 3 High Performance, are more rigorous and voluntary, with the highest level of performance setting a stretch goal. The format allows the building owner to work with the design team to select the preferred level to design the building in order to prioritize performance opportunities that stem from climate, site, program, mandates and other conditions.

The NPBDG fills the need for a balanced system to define building performance and it helps users to meet the full spectrum of building performance requirements as ever higher benchmarks of environmental performance are demanded. Housed on the WBDG at, the Guide is readily available to the public.

This initial release of the Guide incorporates results of preliminary reviews by HPBC members. The ongoing NPBDG review process, which will include annual updates to keep the Guide aligned with changing industry practices, will incorporate review comments already received, as well as open up the process for receiving new comments.

To help ensure that the owner-designer community is involved in the review and use of the Guide, the Institute is reaching out to leading trade and professional societies to assist with the outreach and review process. ASHRAE, the first organization to agree to support the Guide, will assume responsibility for the review of the Mechanical Section.

Organizations interested in becoming involved in the effort, and individuals who would like to suggest improvements or provide comments, please contact the Institute.

To see how to incorporate higher performance guidelines into buildings, view the National Performance Based Design Guide.

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