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The Real Drivers of High Performance Buildings

October 11, 2013

There has been a lot of discussion in the industry lately about the factors that are really driving how people are thinking about high performance buildings.

Whether your organization is motivated to take action due to an outside force such as a change in building codes or a rise in energy costs, or you’re simply looking to take full advantage of a planned expansion or renovation, the end goal is ultimately the same - to reduce operating costs through more efficient use of energy. While some more progressive organizations may be influenced by societal pressures or a desire to be more green, the bottom line is that most organizations are simply seeking to save money on their energy spend.

Trane experts regularly speak at industry events around the world, and are often asked about these drivers. In the past few weeks alone, experts from Trane have spoken about topics ranging from methods and tools to help justify high performance buildings projects to cutting edge technologies that help improve management and control of energy use in buildings. One of the central themes we emphasize is that infrastructure upgrades can improve not only the physical environment of a building, but the performance, health and satisfaction of the building's occupants as well.  

So what's the secret, then, to improving building efficiency?

While the latest trends and topics are worth following and understanding, it's important to remember that it is one of the simplest things that is really most important when it comes to improving building efficiency, and that's properly managing and maintaining the building and its systems. 

High Performance Buildings Management

As technology continues to advance, breakthroughs in building design continue to advance as well. If you look at the buildings built in successive generations, you will notice the progression of technology and systems, and the pace of advancement is only accelerating. But technology is only one part of the picture.

We’ve said time and time again that the biggest opportunity to improve the efficiency of our national (and global) building stock is to make significant gains in improving the efficiency of existing buildings.  This isn't new information. In fact, in a study dating back five years, the U.S. Department of Energy says that implementing recommendations it calls “lost opportunities” would improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings in North America and result in an energy savings of 8.5 QBtu by 2025 – roughly an 18 percent savings of total energy usage in North America.

And part of improving building efficiency is applying better technologies, to be sure. But even as technology and design improvements continue to shrink the energy footprint of the newest, most high-technology buildings, sound management and application of appropriate technologies will continue to be the key to making big gains in improving overall efficiency.

That’s because even the best equipment available won’t operate efficiently if incorrectly installed, calibrated and maintained. And over time, the performance of buildings tends to deteriorate without proactive maintenance that includes periodic recommissioning of equipment to ensure systems are running within specifications. 

The results of a high performance buildings approach is a building in which the building systems operate at peak efficiency, and the people who live or work within the building thrive as well. And for our customers, that has been the real driver of high performance buildings.

Click here to learn more about high performance buildings can support mission-critical objectives for your organization.