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What's Next for High Performance Buildings?

February 28, 2014

Green builder Hammer & Hand recently released its ten predictions for the US high performance building industry in 2014. To no surprise, the predictions cover a wide-range of variables, including the impact of new products entering the market, procedural and policy shifts that focus on performance-based measures, and the international energy efficiency movement’s effect on the US market. The most newsworthy predictions include market tools that incentivize energy conservation, outcomes-based policies, China’s rising interest in high performance building and the rise of Net Positive Energy buildings.

Predictions shed light on market-based tools that reward energy conservation and renewable energy production thriving throughout 2014. These tools create incentives to sell back energy to the grid.

More high performance windows also will enter the market. With increasing numbers of US window manufacturers beginning to produce quality high performance products, super-efficient windows will be affordable, making high performance building easier in the US.

Policy changes regarding energy codes shifting to performance-based codes are also expected across the United States in 2014. This trend is being led by states such as California and Washington, who are implementing their own certifications that focus on outcomes rather than prescriptive checklists. To promote environmentally advanced construction practices, California’s CALGREEN Code sets mandatory requirements for new buildings including enacting ordinances around the use of low-pollutant emitting materials.

China, the world’s second largest economy, is moving towards high performance building. This initiative is expected to benefit the US market through an increased demand for American made building components.

Another noteworthy prediction is the shift from Net Zero Energy to Net Positive Energy buildings, where buildings will in fact create more energy than they use. This shift will be partly due to market incentives that reward on-site energy conservation, making on-site production more feasible and financially sustainable.

Yet another predicted change will be the shift from only HVAC-focused building systems to the integration of even more building controls, including lighting control systems. This move, which lowers cost during the operational phase, is possible because of improved technology around communication protocols. 

At Trane, we believe high performance buildings are the way of the future, adding value to already existing infrastructure and creating a more sustainable world. Stay tuned for a future blog post that outline Trane’s predictions for high performance buildings in 2014 and beyond.