From sustainable federal buildings to developing a road map for net-zero buildings, the Department of Energy (DOE) is tackling a number of cutting-edge challenges and the National Institute of Building Sciences is there to provide input from the industry’s perspective. In its role as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology, the Institute recently submitted comments in response to DOE’s call on the proposed rulemaking “Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Design Standards for New Federal Buildings.” Its primary message: Consider sustainability to be just one aspect of a high-performance building. The rulemaking calls to establish sustainable design criteria as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA).
Among its comments, the Institute encouraged DOE to use a holistic approach to achieve sustainability in federal buildings; look at lifecycle costs instead of first costs as a basis for sustainable decision making; and include operations and maintenance staff and building occupants in the long-term strategies for sustainability. In addition, the Institute became a member of the Steering Committee of the Zero Energy Commercial Buildings Consortium (ZECBC). The ZECBC, through funding from DOE, is developing a roadmap for net-zero buildings and heading to a clear destination of improved energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
As the nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to serve as an interface between government and the private sector, the Institute has an important role because it brings a strong understanding of high-performance building practices and an industry-wide perspective to the Steering Committee. Similarly, the ZECBC itself is a broad based industry partnership comprised of representatives from national industry, non-governmental organizations and public agencies.