The Performing Arts


Gathering data to change occupant behavior is the next frontier in sustainable design.

Of all of the things that DPR considered in designing and building a net-zero interior, crushed ice didn’t exactly top the list of potential energy drains.

DPR isn’t alone in discovering surprising truths about how energy-efficient buildings perform once people move in. I asked architects, building owners and engineers, government and certification agencies, and others around the country about their experiences, and most pointed to unanticipated behaviors and unforeseen design glitches. “People move into a space and it does not always perform as expected,” says Lance Davis, AIA, who specializes in sustainable design with the General Services Administration (GSA). The agency provides workspace for more than one million federal civilian workers and has some 480 historic buildings. Davis says post-occupancy data on the agency’s buildings shows that investments such as geoexchange heating and cooling systems are worth it. “If we can afford to get it into the budget, this has been our most successful system to get energy use down,” Davis says.

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