Why Bother with High Performance Office Buildings?

Company Growth: Every office wants to attract top talent to help their company grow. Studies have shown that 90% of millennials care about building performance and sustainability.  By 2025, millennials will represent 75% of the workforce. This is accompanied by significant purchasing power among this generation, spending $600 billion.

Energy Use: 17% of the total energy used in the United States is from Office buildings. This contributes to a significant amount of carbon emissions that can easily be offset by energy efficient office buildings.

Early Stage Massing Analysis: During the design phase of any building, there are typically a range of options that are possible in terms of building shape, orientation or glazing percentage collectively leading to massing. Optimizing the massing design using early-stage modeling makes sure the building is energy efficient without additional cost impacts. 

Pro Tip: Cove.tool allows users to test multiple different massing options to study their impact on building energy use. This can be done directly within the software of using the Revit or Grasshopper plug-in. 

Facade Optimization: Facades can lead up to 40% of an office building’s total energy load. Designing a high-performance façade is about creating a balance to let daylight in, but keep the heating and cooling loads low and ensuring the spaces are glare free. Here is a separate e-book focused entirely on high-performance facades

Lighting and Plug Loads: Lighting and plug loads together can contribute about 35% - 40% of the total energy use of the building. This can be reduced significantly by using energy efficient appliances (EnergyStar) and energy efficient lighting fixtures. Additionally, having a day-lit office with occupancy sensors and daylight sensors can reduce the total lighting load by approx. 50%. 

Pro Tip: Cove.tool allows users to test parametrically the impact of improving lighting and appliance along with sensors. It does this while figuring out the most cost-effective way to reach your energy goal.

Cost Optimization: This is an indispensable metric during the making an office building because many office buildings are built by developers who do not plan to own the building for a very long. This leads the focus to be less on planning for utility cost, and more on, saving on first cost. Any energy efficiency feature can be Value Engineered out if it has not been cost optimized. This can be done manually using spreadsheets to compare thousands of possible combinations of roof assemblies, walls, glass, lighting, shading, etc and then manually running energy models for each of those possible combinations. 

Pro Tip: This can also be done easily by using the cove.tool cost vs energy optimization that lets you see with its automated parametric energy modeling engine the impact of each of the energy efficiency option on cost and energy.  

Operation: Even the most energy efficient design can lose the benefit if it is not operated well. An example would be if a building does not properly turn OFF when unoccupied, a great deal of energy would be wasted.  Imagine a 5-story office building, with 5 employees on different floors that typically work later than most. Poor operation management would mean the entire building being turned ON, running at full capacity for those additional hours. Planning and strategies like “Free Address” can be really helpful in creating zones that monitoring when and what will be ON later while everything else is turned OFF. 

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