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Five High-Performance Building Trends For 2015

Today's tip of the day is about five trends we think will make headlines in 2015 — definitely items to keep your eyes on.

1. Net-zero energy continues to grow — We spilled a lot of ink in 2014 on net-zero energy buildings; specifically, why operations are important in net-zero energy buildings and why a net-zero energy goal is, above all, the most important step in getting to net-zero. The number of net-zero and emerging net-zero energy buildings, according to the New Buildings Institute, more than doubled between 2012 and 2014, and all evidence supports a continued growth in that trend through 2015.

2. Resilient buildings — The industry's latest big buzzword, "resilience," will continue to be a focus in the high-performance buildings arena. What truly is a resilient building? How specific steps can facility managers take to make buildings more resilient to the worst effects of climate change? And how can this be done cost-effectively?

3. Energy reporting — Not only are there more and more energy reporting and disclosure laws on the books all over the country, but it's coming time for laws passed previously to go into effect. As one example, Chicago just reported its first results from its benchmarking law passed in Sept. 2013. In 2015, we expect there to more laws passed, but importantly, more data to become available (including, excitingly, the new CBECS survey data from 2012) about energy use in buildings. And the more data, the better.

4. Increased scrutiny on supply chain — In 2015, more facility managers will use environmental product declarations (EPDs) and health product declarations (HPDs) as criteria for building product selections. The issue of considering the environmental life-cycle of building products has long been a chicken/egg issue — manufacturers couldn't justify the expense of creating these documents because not many facility managers were asking for them, and facility managers weren't asking for them because they knew there were not many available. Now that LEEDv4 offers points for using building products for which EPDs and HPDs are available, it's spurred more and more manufacturers to develop them. And this is a trend that will continue.

5. Will LEEDv4 catch on? — In late October, USGBC announced it was extending the deadline for which project teams could still use the old LEED 2009 rating systems until October 31, 2016. The previous sunset date for LEED 2009 had been June 1, 2015. What will this mean for the adoption of the much more stringent LEEDv4 in 2015? Likely, many project teams and facility managers, given the choice, will continue to use LEED 2009 until they're forced to make the change. That obviously slows adoption of the LEEDv4 rating system.


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