Discover more from The Carbon Architect
CA20 - Keeping Carbon Secrets
Why transparency is critical to progress in the AEC industry.
THE TOPIC - PERFORMANCE METRICS
Last week I was perusing the latest issues of SAB Magazine (Sustainable Architecture & Building) When I came across a project that really caught my eye. The project, which is highlighted as a certified Zero Carbon Building, is a 27-story office building in the heart of Montreal, Canada. The thing that caught my attention is that it seems like just a normal building (with a few added features), but doesn’t seem revolutionary. The article highlights the following key features of the building:
double glass envelope (this is typical and code a requirement in Canada)
a white roof (minimal impact on a 27-story tower)
Abundant natural lights (floor-to-ceiling glass has other negatives)
100 bicycle parking lot with changing rooms
It has the most reliable internet connection …
The glaring issue here is that none of these things are in any way innovative. In-fact most of them are basic minimums. I’m not saying this building isn’t a great example of a low-carbon design, but I DON’T KNOW because nothing is published about its performance metrics.
Is it a high-performing building? I don’t know, because they didn’t tell us. They just put up a pretty picture with a low-carbon title.
In this week's issue, we delve into the vital world of Performance Metrics. As architects and engineers strive to design low-carbon buildings, understanding the numbers is key to creating building that don’t just look great, but are sustainable and truly beneficial to our environment.
Metrics like Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI), Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI), and Carbon Intensity are becoming increasingly essential. Why? These provide a comprehensive picture of a building's performance, moving beyond the simple 'green' labels and looking into the concrete, measurable impacts a building has on our environment.
I’ve found it beneficial to summarize those numbers in a project performance brief. This gives us a quick picture of a projects performance so we can easily compare and contrast each of them.
The project performance brief is designed to highlight the key performance criteria for a project.
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WHY IT MATTERS
Performance Metrics matter for three primary reasons:
Hiding behind greenwashing
Create literacy around metrics
Highlight high-performance projects
Let’s dig a little deeper:
1 - Hiding behind greenwashing
Greenwashing has unfortunately become an increasing trend. Projects can now receive 'green' certifications simply by buying carbon credits or offsets, without truly addressing the underlying environmental impact. These metrics help expose the truth behind the green labels and ensure that projects are truly sustainable and not merely for show.
2 - Create literacy around metrics
Familiarizing ourselves with performance numbers enhances our understanding of carbon metrics. Whether you're an industry veteran or a newcomer, understanding these numbers equips you with the knowledge to discern the true value and impact of a project. It helps level the playing field and promotes an informed and honest discussion about sustainability.
3 - Highlight high-performance projects
With a focus on performance metrics, we can distinguish and highlight the projects that truly excel in sustainability. It's not just about aesthetics, but the measurable environmental impact a building has. A performance-driven approach ensures that the best projects, in terms of carbon footprint, rise to the top.
1 ARTICLE TO READ
Industrial Hemp in Carbon Farming is an enlightening article that explores the potential of industrial hemp in carbon sequestration, a fast-growing crop that absorbs more CO2 than any other crop or forest. Read more about its numerous benefits and contribution to carbon neutrality ambitions.
1 PERSON TO FOLLOW
Enrico Bonilauri is a Building Envelope Specialist with an international portfolio. His focus on Passive House design and thermal performance analysis makes him a valuable source of knowledge for anyone in the architectural field striving for sustainability.
1 RESOURCE TO ACT ON
Carbon Smart Materials Pallet is developed by Architecture 2030 and supported by the Embodied Carbon Network (ECN), offers material specification guidance for embodied carbon reductions. Continuously updated with the latest information, it's a great starting point for anyone seeking to design with a focus on carbon metrics.