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The 5 Key Steps to Adopting a High Performance Buildings Approach

January 18, 2012

In the previous post I talked a about developing a more effective decision-making model around system-centric life cycle economics and the need to look beyond “simple payback” energy economics to a more long-term approach. This post will take a look at the five key steps that leaders should consider when developing a long-term approach that reduces operating costs, improves asset value and supports the long-term mission of the organizations served by their facilities.  

A simple but often overlooked truth is that, when it comes to capital improvements, short term decisions will often have long-term implications.

Addressing this, Jeff Meaney, senior vice president and head of Security-Corporate Services & BCP for TIAA-CREF (New York City) cites increasing financial urgency being driven by recent economic volatility, while maintaining necessary perspective.

“In the current environment you are trying to save every dime; capital investments need a strong payback," Meaney said. "But it is important to remember that real estate is a long-term investment.”

Five factors for success
To help organizations move beyond the short-term mindset, industry experts must clearly define organizational missions and critical objectives to drive how buildings are managed and operated, and deliver on their asset value.  Underscoring this idea, Meaney said, "one item to increase asset value is lower, sustainable operating expenses.”

Leaders must also identify metrics to tie the success of their operations to the building mission, and must leverage technology to measure and report against these indicators. 
These innovative practices provide a glimpse into high performance buildings and what may become conventional wisdom for the future.  Detailed below is a prescriptive approach for assuring more successful life-cycle outcomes.

  1. Identify each building’s mission.  Why does this building exist? Who does it support? What defines success for how the building delivers on its mission?
  2. Define operational priorities.    Who are our primary partners in delivering on our priorities?  What are the critical systems that serve the building? What are the key operational parameters that should be measured and sustained without exception?
  3. Understand tradeoffs.  How can information be leveraged to prioritize maintenance activities and ensure spending is focused on the key drivers of performance and risk management?
  4. Measure against the vision.  Consider low-cost technology to remotely access systems, collect data and monitor critical systems.  High-end service providers can easily explain how to make this happen quickly and inexpensively and deliver an information-driven future.
  5. Call on partners to deliver the vision.  Engage key resources to jointly help deliver on the building’s objectives.  Examples are public utilities, major building system OEMs, associations and community partners.


Up next: Identifying Your Building's Mission and Beginning the High Performance Buildings Journey.