According to the Environmental U.S. Protection Agency (EPA), most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors and many spend most of their working hours in an office environment. Studies conducted by the EPA and others show that indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside. Yet so many of us don’t often consider the amount of energy consumed and resources used, nor the impact on the environment or our health.
The most effective way to revolutionize the built environment and reverse these impacts is to design, build and maintain high-performance buildings, like C.D. Smith Construction’s new LEED Gold® certified corporate office.
According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the term ‘high-performance building’ means a building that integrates and optimizes on a life-cycle basis all major high-performance attributes, including energy conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations.
“In a less technical sense, it’s a building that people want to be in. It is a beautiful building that has more natural light and more outside air; it’s sustainable; and it is energy efficient. If a regular building was plain latte in a paper cup, a high-performance building would be a flavored latte with whipped cream in a crystal mug. The latte is fine and provides the caffeine, but the flavored latte is more desirable for most people,” explains Emily Smith, an ASHRAE Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP) and C.D. Smith’s Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Expert.
Though many public and private groups, standards and certifications exist to promote and inspire high-performance buildings, the philosophy of utilizing an integrated team for design, construction, operation and maintenance remains the most widely agreed upon approach. The successful transition from the buildings of the past to high-performance buildings optimized on a life-cycle basis requires the integrated expertise of a wide variety of disciplines including those who design, manufacture, construct, use, maintain, refurbish, finance and insure our built environment.
The prominent and revolutionary technology, building information modeling (BIM), allows a complete, 3D virtual model of the building to exist alongside real-time information and analysis tools for life-cycle cost, constructability, fabrication details, scheduling, energy use, and many other parameters. When the high-performance building standards are modeled through BIM, building performance can be readily assessed and an array of design options considered with the goal of significantly increasing the overall building performance.
“BIM is a tool that allows the owner to make critical choices on the costs versus benefits on the entire life-cycle of the building that can affect occupant health and wellness, the useful duration of the building, and their pocketbook for maintaining it,” adds Jamie Spartz, C.D. Smith Director of Virtual Design and Construction. “Additionally, our team uses BIM to solve constructability issues that would otherwise hamper system performance.”