High Performance Building Program

Hey, this is Fanny, posting under Tahra’s user because I don’t have one yet. (Thank you Tahra :D / <3)

I’m pasting my presentation notes for all those who didn’t get the email, and I’m attaching the High Performance Building guidelines for those who want to browse through it.


High Performance Building Program

High Performance Building Guidelines, published in April 1999 (during Giuliani’s years) by the City of New York’s Department of Design and Construction, available at

(they have two reports and four manuals available at
for downloading in pdf format, or you can purchase a copy at the citystore online for $25 dollars

The DDC’s (department of design and construction) High Performance Building Program was sponsored by the Design Trust for Public Space in 1998 to improve the design and understanding of public space in NYC through environmentally-responsible sustainable building.

According to the guideline book, “ …the central mission of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is to deliver the City’s construction projects in a safe, expeditious, cost-effective manner, while maintaining the highest standards of architectural, engineering, and construction quality.”

There were eight goals that the DDC set out in the HighPerformance building program guidelines

High Performance Building Guidelines Goals

1. Raise expectations for the facility’s performance among the various participants.

2. Ensure that capital budgeting design and construction practices result in investments that make economic and environmental sense.

3. Mainstream these improved practices through
1) comprehensive pilot high performance building efforts; and
2) incremental use of individual high performance strategies on projects of limited scope.

4. Create partnerships in the design and construction process around environmental and economic performance goals.

5. Save taxpayers money through reduced energy and material expenditures, waste disposal costs, and utility bills.

6. Improve the comfort, health and well-being of building occupants and public visitors.

7. Design buildings with improved performance which can be operated and maintained within the limits of existing resources.

8. Stimulate markets for sustainable technologies and products.

A high performance building has to be energy and resource efficient, have a healthy interior, and minimalize the environmental impact of the building’s construction and operation.

Why build high performance buildings?

1) Energy Efficiency/Clean Energy Resources
If a building used renewable energy, like solar power (for an example), it saves on energy costs on fuel and electricity. Using less fuel also reduces emissions of gases like sulfur dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, which contribute to air pollution. Using less electricity also reduces the emission of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.

2) Improved Indoor Environment
A building with a good indoor environment should utilize daylight, and have improved air quality. The benefits? Employees come to work, and are healthier and happier.

3) Source Reduction, Pollution Prevention and Recycling
Using recyclable or renewable material helps prevents the depletion of natural resources, and reduces pollution. Also on the up side, it helps increase the market for recycled goods.

4) Building Operations Resource Management
If a building is designed in a way that promotes sustainability, it keeps operation costs low, while helping the environment. And example of this is the Hearst tower. It collects rainwater to irrigate plants, for the water sculpture, and to cool the building. It conserves water, and saves a lot money.

The Building Objectives fall under 6 categories


Good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
A healthy and comfortable level of indoor air quality is the goal for all occupied spaces, as good IAQ supports and enhances the activities and well-being of the occupants.

Light Sources
Achieve a quality of light that is beneficial to building activities and occupants by
combining natural light with complementary electrical light sources.

Noise Control
Create a sound environment that is healthful, comfortable, and appropriate to intended use by controlling noise and carefully attending to the acoustic design of spaces.

Controllability of Systems
To achieve a healthy and comfortable environment, it is critical to ensure that user groups and facility maintenance staff can knowledgeably operate the building systems and equipment. As much control as possible should be given to individual users, without compromising the effectiveness and efficient control of the overall system.


Selection for a Healthy Indoor Environment
Overall indoor air quality goals can be achieved by specifying and installing benign, or ‘healthy’ building materials. These include materials and products that exhibit limited or no ‘off-gassing’ tendencies, have minimal or no toxic properties, do not shed dust and fiber, and do not absorb pollutants that are later released, potentially generating complaints among building users/occupants.

Selection for Resource Efficiency
Resource efficiency can be achieved through conscientious design strategies, and by selecting environmentally preferable building materials. These measures can conserve natural resources while minimizing the generation of waste and pollution during construction. The hierarchy of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ can serve as a guideline for decisions relating to resource efficiency.

Selection for External Environmental Benefit
The selection and use of environmentally preferable materials yields benefits that easily exceed the scope of the building itself. Products produced and deployed in an environmentally responsible manner help reduce local, regional, and global pollution while encouraging sustainable stewardship of resources. For example, global benefits accrue from specifying sustainably harvested, certified wood products, and from avoiding the use of ozone-depleting compounds in foam products, refrigeration and fire suppression systems.


Minimize the Use of Domestic Water
Proper selection of plumbing fixtures, equipment, and fittings can minimize end use of domestic water while conserving water quality and availability.

Water Quality
All projects must ensure optimal water quality at the tap – potable water that is both safe (non-toxic) and aesthetically pleasing in terms of taste, color, and odor.

Water Reuse
To achieve overall water conservation goals, it is important to limit the use of potable water for non-potable purposes. On site water reclamation and reuse should be encouraged and facilitated wherever possible.


Environmental and Community Considerations
Renovation and new construction should be performed with the least possible disruption to both the community and the environment.
Conscientious construction administration can minimize harm to the site and surrounding area, including soil, water resources, and air. Construction of the project should foster the perception of high performance buildings as good neighbors.

Health and Safety
Construction workers and building occupants need protection from pollutants produced during construction, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulates, dust and other airborne contaminants and odors. These same construction contaminants must also be prevented from accumulating in building HVAC systems and in absorbent building materials, such as carpet and furnishings.

Construction and Demolition Waste Management
Construction and demolition (C&D) waste management techniques divert materials from the waste stream, thus preserving valuable resources and landfill space. C&D waste typically includes building demolition and scrap materials, components such as doors or lighting fixtures, packaging materials, hazardous materials, and miscellaneous construction waste such as bottles, cans, or paper.


Fully Integrated Operating Systems
Commissioning activities transform the various building systems into an integrated whole. During all tests and performance protocols, a dedicated commissioning agent oversees the building team to ensure that the systems have been well-designed, appropriately installed, and functionally tested, and that the staff are trained to operate and maintain the facility in conformance with design intent.

Commissioning Existing Buildings
For a building renovation or infrastructure upgrade, commissioning should be performed on the affected systems or parts of systems in a comprehensive manner.


Operating and Maintaining Building Systems
Operating and maintenance practices ensure that all building systems function to the fullest extent of their designed efficiency and meet specified levels of energy and indoor air quality performance.
Scheduled maintenance and cleaning will help to yield ongoing energy savings for the building while promoting occupant health and comfort.

Healthy and Efficient Custodial Operations
Reduced human exposure to physical and chemical hazards and odors associated with cleaning products and pesticides can be achieved through custodial operations that employ appropriate methods and low- toxicity or non-toxic cleaning products.

Waste Prevention and Recycling
Reducing, reusing, and recycling solid, liquid, and food waste from day-to-day building operations and activities are critical high performance operating strategies, in that they effectively promote ongoing resource conservation. Purchasing decisions can also contribute to waste prevention (e.g., specifying mechanically-controlled roll towels instead of disposable folded towels; avoiding products with excessive or unnecessary packaging).

Guidelines are also available in the booklet “Implementing the High Performance Guidelines” by the City of New York’s Department of Design and Construction in November 2002,

In the newer report, problems with implementation of the high performance guidelines are discussed:

Operational Constraints
The most common ground for eliminating a high performance feature is the concern that a non- conventional system’s uniqueness or perceived complexity would further tax the agency’s finite operating resources. For this reason, the more sophisticated the proposed system, the greater the perceived risk and the less its likelihood of incorporation.

Higher First Cost
Items with a longer payback are usually eliminated, even though they might result in additional comfort or amenity (increased insulation, natural ventilation). In general, it is difficult to maintain high performance features as high priorities when severe budget constraints threaten other elements on the designer or client’s wish list.

Perceived As Trade-offs
High performance features are seen as burdensome/extraneous in the context of a schedule- and budget-driven program initiative, such as the Fire Department’s emergency response centers.

Perceived Risk
Many clients were presented with the option of installing a green or planted roof as a valuable high performance feature. However, with one exception, all have perceived this technology as risky, since it has no track record in a public sector environment. (Disagreement with this; there are now high performance buildings.)

Additional Challenges to Implementation of the Guidelines

Lagging Industry Learning Curve
Since the Guidelines’ publication three years ago, there continues to be slow growth in practical knowledge among the broader design community about the techniques and benefits of high performance practices. Although DDC’s High Performance Program success has encouraged other similar City and State agency initiatives, the corresponding demand for green design capability from among other institutions and within the commercial real-estate sector has not markedly increased.

Fiscal Barriers
Current fiscal practices within City government structurally separate capital and operating budgets, prescribing relatively fast pay-backs for efficiency improvements rather than encouraging a life cycle cost approach that would make feasible more extensive performance improvements in new buildings, or
deeper retrofits, and yield greater economies across the building life span. It is this fragmentation of operating and capital decision-making that prejudices most design choices towards first cost savings, rather than life-cycle economies.

Missing Incentives
Operating savings that might arise from a client agency’s prudent capital investments in energy efficiencies are prevented from being “shared.” In this way, efficiencies will never accrue to the client’s benefit. Instead, savings are returned to the City’s General Fund. This removes a major client incentive to adopting high performance improvements and realizing useful operational savings for other agency- perceived program needs.

This has changed because of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification

LEED buildings:

* Lower operating costs and increased asset value.
* Reduce waste sent to landfills.
* Conserve energy and water.
* Healthier and safer for occupants.
* Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
* Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.
* Demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

LEED certification makes sustainable building attractive. Many also argue that the costs of making a greener building are not actually increased if concepts are incorporated early on.

Overall, the guideline report gives many objectives to fulfill, and provides strategies and suggestions.

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