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What Is Building Performance?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2016
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Building performance is a measure of key health and safety characteristics of a home, as well as an evaluation of how well the home performs on tests of environmental standards. This field is a topic of interest among builders, renovators, and other members of the construction community. It is possible to hire a technician who specializes in evaluating building performance to assist with the evaluation of an existing home or the development of plans for a new home.

In building performance, technicians look at a number of characteristics to learn more about how durable, safe, and efficient a home is after completion. They examine the materials used to determine if they are strong, climate-appropriate, and renewable. Issues like instability or potentially hazardous design features are a topic of interest, along with the use of hazardous materials in construction. While code compliance is not the focus of this area of the construction industry, it can be a concern if noncompliant components of a building interfere with performance or would make it impossible to certify under a specific performance standard.

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One very important aspect of building performance is the energy efficiency of the structure. Some buildings maintain stable temperatures with minimal assistance from heating and cooling systems and use passive measures to conserve energy. They may also be made from renewable materials, like recycled products. Others may be energy hogs with significant issues like poor interior design that makes it difficult to control temperatures, or single-paned windows with no protective film that allow for ready heat exchange between indoors and outdoors.

In building design, high performance is often a goal. Contractors want buildings that will be durable and stable through decades of use. They may also consider adaptability and designs that are well suited to repurposing, like homes with movable walls that can expand and contract rooms to meet changing needs. Contractors may also think about weatherizing and efficiency issues to implement measures at the time of construction that will save money in the long term.

For renovation, building performance assessments provide an opportunity to identify the most important issues to fix. A consultant can help renovators use their funds wisely to increase performance. Assessments may also be helpful for real estate agents and prospective property buyers who want more information on a home before they move ahead with a deal. An inspector may demonstrate, for example, that a home needs substantial work to meet an energy efficiency standard, and the buyer might use this as leverage in contract negotiations.

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