Building Assessment Performance Research Paper

The construction industry helps people to meet their requirements of shelter, investment, and fulfillment of some communal objective. Nonetheless, the realization of such objectives generally leads to enduring damage to the environment. Over the years, there has been a global awareness about such damage and efforts are being made to make the construction industry sustainable and accountable towards the environment. An appreciative effort was made in this field in the year 1987 when the Brundland Report was presented. Since then, there have been various developmental efforts by way of global conferences to increase the sustainability of buildings. The thoughts and strategies commenced by these world proceedings have provoked positive actions and many countries have put various strategies (pertaining to sustainable construction) into practice. By adopting the suggestions of sustainable construction, the building industry can contribute in an optimistic and proactive way towards safeguarding the environment. Before adopting any measures for sustainable construction, it is imperative to understand the level to which buildings have an impact on the environment. Environmental performance assessment tools offer such details so that appropriate changes can be made to the design and operation of buildings in order to make them sustainable. In this paper, global environment assessment tools such as BREEAM, LEED, Green Star, NABERS, and SBTool will be discussed.

The Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) is the pioneer and one of the leading environmental assessment tools in the world. It was started in 1990 in the United Kingdom by the Building Research Establishment (BRE); BRE is a charity organization. To date, more than one million buildings have been registered for certification and almost one-fourth of them have been certified. The system sets standards for best practices during the various phases of construction. The use of low-carbon products is promoted among the designers, owners, and customers. The main aim behind this is to minimize the energy demand even before it is actually put into use. So, minimizing the demand for energy comes before making and implementing plans to conserve it (BREEAM 2014).

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Appropriate benchmarks are set for the various phases of construction and are assessed using standard performance measures. Such standards are higher than the government guidelines. Various categories such as ecology and energy are considered while assessing the building. General aspects such as water & energy consumption, wastage, and environment are also considered for the assessment. The system is transparent and simple and has an encouraging impact on the design and other features of the construction process. The certified buildings get market recognition and the clients feel convinced that appropriate testing methods have been incorporated (BREEAM 2014). The rating benchmarks and labeling systems in BREEAM are different for different structures. An example of eco-homes is mentioned below:

Total percentage available: 100%

Pass: 36% to 47%

Good: 58% to 69%

Very good: 58% to 69%

Excellent: 70% and more (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009, p. 4).

The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) was founded by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in the United States in 1998 when its first version (V1.0) was launched; USGBC is a . Over the years, different versions, such as V2.0 and V3.0, have come into force (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009). LEED caters to a variety of projects such as building design and construction, interior design and construction, building operations and maintenance, neighborhood development, and homes (LEED 2014; Barnes 2012). While there may be different inputs required for benchmarking various functions of a building, the generally considered benchmarks are for energy and water use. The annual consumption of energy and water is recorded and compared with the standards that have already been set. Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool is used to exhibit the outcome. Optional benchmarks include building waste generation and vehicle miles traveled (USGBC 2013). The rating benchmarks and labeling systems in LEED are as under:

Total points: 69

Certified: 26 to 32 points

Silver: 33 to 38 points

Gold: 39 to 51 points

Platinum: 52 or more points (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009, p. 4).

Green Star
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) was started in 2002 in Australia and is a charity organization. It promotes the acceptance of the green building concept throughout Australia. Its endeavors are supported by the construction industry and government throughout the nation (GBCA 2014a). GBCA caters to the certification needs of varied nature of clients such as healthcare, education, industrial, office, and private buildings. For instance, The Green Star Industrial v1 Rating Tool measures the environmental aspects of new and renovated industrial structures. The tool can be put into use at either the design stage or after the construction has been completed (GBCA 2014b). By using the Green Star tool, clients are able to play down the environmental impact of their structures, augment their business performance and staff productivity, develop a , get recognition, and accomplish cost savings. Its categories include building management, indoor environmental goals, energy, emissions, and innovation (Downton 2011, p. 6).

The (SBTool) was initially referred to as GBTool. The launching (in 1996) of this tool (GBTool) was a result of the Green Building Challenge (GBC) that included combined efforts of various groups from across the globe. GBC was the brainchild of Natural Resources Canada. In 2002, the charge was given to the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE). The purpose of this tool is to measure the environmental and sustainable performance of construction structures. The SBTool was formally launched (after the name change) in the year 2007 (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009). The rating benchmarks and labeling systems in SBTool are: If the score is -1, the rating is deficient. The minimum acceptable performance scoring is 0. The scoring for best practices is +5 and if the scoring is between 1 and 4, it is considered to be an intermediate performance level (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009, p. 4).

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is an Australian environmental assessment tool that gauges the performance of construction structures. The tool is mainly used in Australia and assesses the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of the building or tenancy and its impact on the environment (NABERS 2013, p. 1). It awards stars based on the rating of buildings on the basis of their annual performance with regard to energy and water consumption and the generated waste. A building requiring an assessment by NABERS has to match the benchmarks set for other buildings in the vicinity. The benchmarks pertain to the climatic conditions of the structure, the total time that the structure is in use, the standard of services, the sources of energy used, and the structures size and tenancy.

BREEAM is the leader in environmental assessment in England. LEED is an assessment company based in the United States. Both the systems are being used by clients in the construction industry in the UK. The main difference among these systems is the manner in which the assessment is done. The modus operandi of certification is also different. BREEAM assessors need to undergo appropriate training before qualifying to assess buildings. On the other hand, LEED assessors do not require any formal training. BREEAM is based on best practice standards while LEED has optional standards. The thresholds observed in BREEAM are quantitative while those in LEED are based on percentage. BREEAM is based on CO2 while LEED is based on US dollars. The main concentration of BREEAM is in the UK while LEED is mainly operational in the US. BREEAM encourages assessor involvement while LEED has team involvement (BSRIA 2009).

While both BREEAM and LEED are fully market-oriented, the market orientation of SBTool is moderate. Both BREEAM and LEED have a strong market penetration. BREEAM has increased flexibility in the United Kingdom, whereas LEED has it in the United States. On the other hand, SBTool has high flexibility throughout the world. The usage domains of LEED include home, educational institution, commercial buildings, healthcare, and buildings with several functions. BREEAMs usage domains include home, office, retail business, industries, educational institutions, healthcare, prison, and buildings with several functions. SBTool has the facility to assess all kinds of buildings. The assessment criteria differ in these assessment tools as under:

LEED: Sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials & resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation & design process (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009, p. 4).

BREEAM: Management energy, transport, pollution, materials, water, land use and ecology, health and wellbeing (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009, p. 4).

SBTool: Site selection, project planning, and development, energy and resource consumption, environmental loadings, indoor environmental quality, social and economic aspects, cultural and perceptual aspects (Xiaoping, Huimin & Qiming 2009, p. 4).

The life cycle coverage (stages of construction) of LEED, BREEAM, and SBTool are programming, designing, construction, and operation. The weighting system in LEED is provided by LEED V3.0, whereas BREEAM itself has its own weighting system. In the case of SBTool, the weighting system is provided by iiSBE and there is an option of developing a new weighting system as well.

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