Continuous programming for Smart Energy Buildings
Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 01:30PM
Toby Considine in BIM, Intelligent Buildings, Re-thinking things, Zero Energy Buildings

Best practices in high performance buildings recommend continuous commissioning. Keeping building systems at peak performance requires knowing what high performance looks like, and how that performance changes over time. But performance requirements change over time. Policy based system management requires that we know the purpose of each room. We need continuous programming for buildings.

Building programming is the name of the pre-design conversations about what an owner expects to get out of a building. Designers ferret out each purpose. The design team and the owners establish clear expectations of the expected performance for each function. Some praxis defines the energy performance expectations for each space as well. This one time activity is complete before serious design begins.

This program should guide the initial commissioning requirements. Does this space support the ventilation requires of a dining area within it energy budget. Does another space meet its energy budget while supporting high-end retail? Does the ventilation support maintaining alert cubicle workers throughout a long day? These considerations can support policy based building system management.

There are two barriers to developing systems to support this model. There is no standard for passing the original program information to the commissioning process. Programs change.

It is quite common at Universities to spend 100 grand to renovate a brand new building. During the years between programming and construction, some purpose changes, some new program started, and 4 offices are now a classroom. The break area is now a data center. The back lab is now a reception space for the new academic discipline; it now has an exterior door. In commercial buildings, each new tenant may have new requirements. Things change

Even without renovations, the building program changes, and with it, the performance requirements. The squash court becomes a spinning class, supporting many sweating exercisers rather than two. The conference room becomes a break room, and adds a refrigerator and microwave. The new break room must be better ventilated, to avoid tormenting the work force with the smell of microwave popcorn. These changes create new program requirements that should in turn update the energy performance requirements.

To meet their promise, LEED buildings need to be commissioned against their designed performance, the design that was built on the original programming. To maintain that performance, this commissioning should be continuous and automated. To keep that commissioning meaningful, it its targets should be updated as the buildings program requirements change. And that requires continuous programming.

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (http://www.newdaedalus.com/).
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