Frequently Asked Questions

Background

From the beginning of the Green Building Manual project, we have been asked to take a performance based vs. prescriptive approach to developing the guidance.

Why a performance based approach?

Without performance targets or standards, it is difficult to tell what is working and what is not working. It is also more difficult to distinguish which strategies and technologies are contributing to or subtracting from enhanced performance, while also allowing flexibility/creativity in how targets are met. Compared with conventional building practices, green buildings have demonstrated reductions in energy use by 30%, carbon dioxide emissions by 35%, water use by 50%. A growing body of research indicates that green buildings can improve employee productivity and satisfaction. This research shows links between enhanced human performance and such green building features as: daylighting, views to nature, improved air quality, and individual control of fresh air and temperature. However, green buildings have also demonstrated energy performance levels that are both 25% below and 30% above predicted savings.[1] Moreover, studies of green buildings have revealed unintended consequences of design decisions. For example, when HOK studied nine of their newly constructed green buildings, they discovered instances where daylighting resulted in light spill and glare. Open office designs sometimes led to problems associated with acoustics and visual privacy. These findings suggested that the average savings and potential benefits of green buildings are well disseminated but that more research and experience is needed to better understand the combination of green building strategies and technologies that minimize tradeoffs and achieve the greatest environmental and social benefits at the lowest cost – a win-win-win scenario.

[1] Cathy Turner and Mark Frankel. 2008. Energy Performance of LEED for New Construction Buildings. Final Report. March 4, 2008. New Buildings Institute. http://www.newbuildings.org/downloads/Energy_Performance_of_LEED-NC_Buildings-Final_3-4-08b.pdf (accessed December 22, 2008)

Is this yet another green building program?

No. The NJ Green Building Manual leverages existing, highly-researched and widely-piloted green building standards and rating systems to identify a baseline level of green building performance for new and existing commercial and residential buildings in New Jersey. In the case of LEED, it relies on an established third party verification system. In the case of green building codes such as Standard 189.1, it will rely on code officials or green professionals with verification training/credentials to verify a building’s compliance. This approach allows a building to achieve recognition under multiple green building verification systems, encouraging a market-driven vs. regulatory approach to encouraging green building in the state. It also relieves some of the administrative burden related to verification.

 

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Background
Why a performance based approach?
Is this yet another green building program?