Every building needs a hero
By Steve Clem
Recent studies have shown that many LEED-certified buildings are not performing as well as expected. In fact, a lawsuit has been brought against the U.S. Green Building Council, creators and administers of the LEED standard, for allegedly failing to live up to energy-savings promises.
A small part of this disappointment can be tied to improper engineering, but most often it seems it is a result of underperforming tenants. Although the USGBC is not patently responsible for either one of the above shortcomings, perhaps instead of requiring a LEED Accredited Professional as part of the project team, they should require the identification of a knowledgeable building operator to protect the mutual investment in the project.
Much has been written about smart buildings, great controls systems and building dashboards, but I think tenants are more likely to rally around a personality rather than an abstract energy budget. People are more accountable to other people simply because it is hard to be embarrassed by a machine. Identifying a building manager early on is critical to creating a strong bridge between design and execution.
It takes a special kind of person to be the manager of a high-performance building. The manager needs to know how to be more than an on-call Mr. Fixit, changing light bulbs and clearing clogged drains. The position is similar to being the captain of a ship, keeping a hand on the rudder at all times and an eye on the distant horizon. Just like sailing long distances, if building performance is off a few degrees, over time the performance will be even farther off course. Below are some requirements for a high performance building manager:
Steve Clem is vice president of preconstruction in the Beaverton office of Skanska USA Building and specializes in sustainable building. He can be reached at 503-207-2594 or Steve.Clem@skanska.com. His last SBO post was on a practical approach to going green.
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