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Science and Technology for the Built Environment feature, August 2019

Developing More Rigorous, Credible Building Performance Measurements 

From eSociety, August 2019

Measuring building performance can be difficult at the intermediate and advanced levels. So, researchers analyzed ASHRAE 2010 Performance Measurement Protocols for Commercial Buildings to provide a basis for updates.

Intermediate and advanced levels of building performance measurement protocols (PMP) are difficult to perform for some building types. At the intermediate level, the measurement protocols are only somewhat reliable, and some are impractical. At the advanced level, most protocols are complex and impractical because specially trained personnel need to perform them, according to the Science and Technology for the Built Environment article, “Assessing the Validity, Reliability, and Practicality of Ashrae’s Performance Measurement Protocols (ASHRAE Research Project 1702).” 

Liping Wang, Ph.D., P.E., Member ASHRAE; Gabrielle McMorrow, Associate Member ASHRAE; Xiaohui Zhou, Ph.D., P.E., Member ASHRAE; and Zheng O’Neill, Ph.D., P.E., Member ASHRAE, researched the  PMP through case studies for five buildings. Based on their experiences following the PMP, they assessed the validity, reliability and practicality of the PMP and provided comments and recommendations for future revisions.

Wang discussed the research. 

1. What is the significance of this research?

This research project examines the validity, reliability and practicality of ASHRAE’s Performance Measurement Protocols through implementation in five diverse case study buildings across different US climate zones. The PMP specifies various performance measurement metrics and strategies at basic, intermediate and advanced-levels in the categories of energy, water, indoor air quality, thermal comfort, lighting and acoustics.

The significance of the research is not only to update and improve ASHRAE’s Performance Measurement Protocols, but more fundamentally, this research will enhance the credibility and usability of the protocols to attract more users. Thus, leading the industry to more rigorous and credible performance measurements.

2. Why is it important to explore this topic now?

With increasing industry emphasis on efficient, sustainable and comfortable buildings, methods to measure and verify a building’s performance has become more important than ever. When ASHRAE published the first Performance Measurement Protocols in 2010, it was the first ever attempt at standardization of measurement approaches to analyze the technical aspects of a building’s performance. 

This research aimed to complete a comprehensive review of the PMP through analysis of five diverse buildings in a carefully designed implementation of PMP methodologies. Examining a building through the methods of the PMP is one way building managers may justify the ‘high performance’ or ‘green’ operation of their building.

3. What lessons, facts and/or guidance can an engineer working in the field take away from this research?

There are many methods of evaluating a building’s performance—some more challenging than others. This article outlines findings of the validity, reliability and practicality of using the PMP and its defined methods for evaluating a building. 

One of the main areas of interest in this research is to develop a list of lessons learned that will be helpful to engineers and facility managers working in the field as well as to develop a list of recommendations for incorporation in future editions of ASHRAE’s Performance Measurement Protocol.

4. How can this research further the industry’s knowledge on this topic?

It is our hope that our experiences in implementing the PMP will help engineers and facility managers better evaluate their building’s performance. Our case studies can be used as a resource for building operators to determine which methods may be better suited to their own buildings.

5. Were there any surprises or unforeseen challenges for you when preparing this research?

Each building is highly unique and comes with challenges to address when applying a prescribed set of measurements and analysis. The research team found it challenging at times to apply certain performance measurement approaches due to lack of trended data and challenges with existing building infrastructure.