To really benefit from green building schemes and achieve the highest standards, the design and construction teams need to think about the whole life cycle of the building, build it to be more energy efficient and check its intended performance ‘in use’.
Using standards/schemes such as BREEAM can help overcome this gap by incentivising robust commissioning to ensure optimum operation of services, and a soft landing which ensures users understand controls and systems. Increasingly, Post-Occupancy Evaluations (POE) can be carried out to review the design and construction process and collect information on user satisfaction and building performance. This data can help improve future designs and allow optimisation of system settings.
Higher environmental ratings are often linked to savings in buildings operation, for example from energy and water (e.g. energy savings of the highest performing LEED buildings may be in excess of 35%, and water savings even higher, compared to similar uncertified buildings). But there are also other tangible benefits. A return on investment study for 33 LEED rated projects in the US, found that a capital investment of 2% on top of normal construction costs could yield savings of ten-times the initial outlay over a 20 year life cycle when you take account of improvements in employee productivity and health.