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How Do You Select High-Performance Building Products?


One of the many topics I enjoy discussing with readers is their process and criteria for selecting building products. They always have some pretty strong opinions.

Cost and high-performance criteria almost always are at the top of the priority heap. But what is the process like whereby facility executives convey their wants and needs to a designer? Again, the process is as varied as the types of products facility executives select. But here’s a stab at what I’ve learned in my discussions with these decision makers.

Many facility executives have two or three standard brands with which they feel comfortable. When undertaking a new construction project or major renovation, they pass these preferred specifications onto the architect, and typically ask the architect for suggestions, as well. When the architect returns the specification document, facility executives mark it up with changes and offer their own suggestions.

If facility executives don’t have particular brands or model numbers in mind, they’ll often have performance specifications instead. For example, a carpet product must be certified under the Green Label Plus program or a systems furniture product must have a particular VOC-emission threshold. Facility executives usually try to stick to similar brands for these relatively short-term products so they match the look and feel of their facilities.

For big-ticket items, like a roof or HVAC system, many facility executives also rely on the performance specification. An Energy Star rating or a 20-year warranty might be the criteria, but because most facility executives aren’t buying these items very frequently, they rely on their consultant, architect or engineer a bit more heavily for specific product decisions.

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