Hi Performance Building looks at a home or Low Rise Apartment Building as a system; Everything has to work together. The tighter we construct buildings, the more systems we have to insure are working together, not against one another, like the following:
The Building Enclosure or Thermal Envelope: The tighter the better. Zero air and moisture leakage is the goal. Simply the most cost effective step in creating energy efficient buildings that work. If you don’t get this right, every other system in the building is destined to work less efficiently. Focus on this until it becomes 2nd nature.
Moisture Control: When you tighten up the thermal envelope, you are now in the position of controlling the interior environment. The two critical concerns are indoor air quality and humidity levels. You have to add systems to control these issues. Why make them tighter then if we have to add more systems using energy? It is more cost effective to control humidity and air quality, then rely upon uncontrolled leakage involving moisture and air to condition interior space. Didn’t old buildings and houses breathe naturally! Yes, but energy was cheap then–it isn’t now–and destined to get worse. Further we spend much more time indoors than our parents or ancestors. Humidity in buildings is a big issue. We are talking mold and unhealthy buildings here.
HVAC including Mini-Splits and Inverter Technology: The tighter and more energy efficient we construct buildings, the more we have to concern ourselves with sizing our HVAC systems correctly. Oversizing is just as big a concern as undersizing. Randomly selected HVAC equipment is destined to cause building operational problems involving moisture, heating, air conditioning and poor indoor air quality.
Indoor Air Quality: We spend so much time indoors in our lives that what happens behind those closed doors, whether it be at work in an office or in a home, affects our health. Indoor air quality affects our lives either positively or adversely regarding our health and state of mind.
Water Conservation: Not only a big issue regarding supply limitations that make headlines, but a big source of cost when it comes to using it and heating it. Hi-Performance mean paying attention to consumption and usage. This is a big cost item in the operation of multi-family, office, restaurants and fitness buildings. Residentially it doesn’t mean we all have to take dribble showers. This is the next huge area of focus for sustainable building.