Standards and Resources

Building standards may be either advisory or compulsory depending on the organization and location. They are developed by many different governing bodies. A summary of common standards can be found online through The Engineering Toolbox.

Use the links below to find specific information:

Standards Organizations

Air Change Rates for Typical Rooms and Buildings

Illuminance—Recommended Light Levels

Acceptable Noise (dBA) Levels

eStandards Store

People & Productivity

Improving the occupant experience

People & Productivity Relationships between technical building performance characteristics and human responses, such as productivity, absenteeism and health, have been confirmed. Based on a review of over 1,500 studies, the Center for Building Performance at Carnegie Mellon University confirmed that indoor environmental qualities including lighting, ventilation and thermal comfort significantly impact human performance.

When critical building system performance declines or deteriorates, personal contributions suffer as well.

Occupant health and welfare

Today it is simply common sense that proper lighting levels positively impact productivity and test scores. What is less known is that lighting changes are often based on investigations into safety issues, or that inadequate illumination is linked to poor product quality and health conditions such as seasonal affective disorders (SAD).

Ventilation impacts alertness and health—so much that standards for fresh air are often incorporated into building codes. Acoustics and background noise (or lack of it) can be interfering distractions on both the conscious and sub-conscious level. Sometimes the degree of the building’s impact is surprising: Students attending schools in poor condition score 11 percent lower on standardized tests than students who attend schools in good condition.

Effective strategies

Sound decision making begins by determining current conditions relating to temperature, humidity, ventilation, lighting and sound levels, and then evaluating options for improving them relative to the organization’s mission, economic criteria and other factors.

Predictive maintenance for existing equipment may raise performance substantially, providing even better cost-benefits than a planned maintenance approach.

Making sure building system control strategies and setpoints are optimized to the mission of the organization also yields high results for little or no cost.

Ongoing or systematic monitoring and measurement, augmented by a continuous commissioning program, can ensure that system performance remains in synch with mission-critical operational needs.

A professional audit may determine that changing equipment or systems in the building will result in a better fit for the organization when the mission, productivity and economic factors are taken into consideration. Recommended improvements, such as a lighting system upgrade or adding new air conditioning equipment, will generally be suggested to provide economic benefits and/or to improve occupant effectiveness.

Mission-level results

Whether an organization is striving to raise student test scores, reduce safety mishaps, improve attendance, or increase productivity, it pays to invest in occupant comfort. Specific metrics and benefits are unique to each organization and its mission. Nevertheless, in most cases raising operations to high performance standards results in multiple benefits spanning several categories, and it can even mitigate occupancy code violations.

Reliability and uptime

Breakdowns can be devastating to some organizations. At the very least, they are a nuisance and a public relations challenge.

The cost implications can be significant for a manufacturer or data center that must maintain critical operating environments within strict parameters to maintain quality and productivity.

Healthcare organizations have zero tolerance for service interruptions that impact patient and staff comfort and put care outcomes at risk.

A broken boiler that causes an elementary school closure can result in lost funding…and lots of angry parents who must find last-minute child care.

Effective strategies

Once high performance buildings standards are achieved, the hard work begins. As challenging as it may be to reach those standards, it is even more difficult to sustain them over the long term.

A critical systems audit should be conducted as a first step. This enables the organization to effectively prioritize resources and actions to minimize risk.

Effective approaches may include:

  • Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) processes, which determine the minimum level of maintenance that is required to ensure that assets continue to provide the required level of service in the actual operating context
  • Equipment restorations, system upgrades and the application of new technologies as they continue to advance
  • 24/7 monitoring and remote event remediation, conducted either by the organization’s in-house staff or a third-party service company

Expected outcomes

Predictive maintenance saves 12–18 percent compared to run-to-fail approach, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). In addition, the FEMP O&M Guide (August 2010) states that regular maintenance:

  • Cuts unexpected breakdowns by 70–75 percent
  • Reduces downtime by 35–40 percent
  • Lowers equipment repairs and maintenance costs by 25–30 percent