"Post-occupancy evaluation," the process of measuring a new building's actual performance, is an essential part of the design feedback loop. Is that impressive-looking thermal energy storage system delivering the projected energy savings? POE is gaining momentum among sustainability architects to address the frequent gap between promises and reality, Peter Fairley writes in this month's issue of Architectural Record.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
"The value of getting feedback on projects hit home for [New Orleans–based Eskew+Dumez+Ripple] after the opening of its first LEED-certified building: the Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Center [show above] in Key West. The 30,000-square-foot multipurpose facility, occupied by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2006, was predicted to consume 735,000 kilowatt-hours per year—28 percent fewer than the ASHRAE baseline. In its first two years of operation, however, the LEED Silver building was consuming almost twice that amount.
"Faulty settings in the building-management system were the culprit: two months after commissioning, a software upgrade wiped out the settings tuned by the commissioning agent. A local consultant's efforts to fix the problem fell short. Ultimately, humidity and mold issues convinced the owner to bring Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and the commissioning agent back into the picture nearly two years later. The problems were then quickly resolved. Energy consumption immediately fell below what designers had originally predicted.
"Eskew+Dumez+Ripple determined that from that point forward they would attempt to track energy consumption of all their LEED projects. They wanted to understand the variables affecting performance and get a jump on any issues that arose. "