Improving High-Performance Facades Through Post-Occupancy Evaluation

POEs are essential to ensuring building facades are functioning as intended and advancing future design
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Sponsored by Ornamental Metal Institute of New York

The Outlook for POEs

In terms of improving the usefulness and applicability of POEs, Carnes says building envelopes must be evaluated from inception to completion, not post-occupancy. “After construction is too late and during construction is too late,” he says. “During design is when the envelope needs to be evaluated, followed by construction inspection and testing upon completion.”

Another shortcoming Jauregui sees is that POEs are frequently associated with simply sending out a survey at the end of a project. “In order to fully understand building and facade performance, on-site measurements and tracking of data over time is a must,” she says. “This information cannot always be picked up in a qualitative questionnaire sent to building occupants.”

In order to drive improvement, Gowda says that better communication is key. “Also, it is important to more broadly convey that the soft costs of continuous commissioning and POEs do not exceed the long-term value add,” she adds.

Gowda points out that some of the motivation to pursue POEs is not wholly altruistic, but rather business oriented. Consequently, corporate social responsibility reporting and the adoption of various global rating systems and benchmarking ordinances that impose voluntary and mandatory policy drivers will be required to urge more POEs.

Another useful tool would be a database of POEs that architects could reference. For example, U.C. Berkley has such database of POE survey results for office buildings, but few similar resources exist for other types of buildings.

As more POEs are performed and the industry’s data collection becomes more organized, Thibaudeau is hopeful that the usefulness of these studies will improve with more information available.

Will more building owners and designs be undertaking POEs in the future? “Optimistically, I’d like to say yes,” Hendricks says.

With even more confidence, Rohlfing believes that POEs will undoubtedly gain traction, noting code changes, client requests in RFPs, and a general industry trend to verify predicted performance. Associating POE data directly with operational, health, and wellness savings could also lead to a tipping point, allowing clients to see its usefulness and applicability for future design projects.

Carnes points out that building codes requiring higher-performing building envelopes to drive down energy use are already being implemented in many jurisdictions. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already requires testing of the thermal barrier and air barrier in all new buildings.

“With building codes continually upgrading to require increased mechanical system and overall building energy performance efficiency, building envelope performance will have to follow,” he says.

Ultimately, in the age of big data, Jauregui says that more and more people expect proof to back up statements of improvement. “You can no longer just say that your building is performing better than others; you have to be able to prove it,” she explains. “POEs provide people with the ability to put numeric justifications behind their claims, and we are already seeing an uptake of their use across the industry.”

 

The Ornamental Metal Institute of New York The Ornamental Metal Institute of New York is a not-for-profit association created to advance the interests of the architectural, ornamental, and miscellaneous metal industries by helping architects, engineers, developers, and construction managers transform designs into reality.

 

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Originally published in Architectural Record


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