A High Performance Management Plan Will Help You Get the Most Out of Your Retrofit

High performance management

Chances are, you’re retrofitting your building to replace aging systems, improve structural integrity or aesthetics. Have you considered the positive impacts that these retrofits can also bring to your utility bills, risk mitigation, attracting clients and improving occupant health? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to get the most out of your retrofit.

The traditional design/build process fails to make the connection between buildings that actually perform well and overall business prosperity. All too often we see project/construction managers who are more concerned with the budget and schedule than making sure equipment upgrades function to the performance standards owners seek. If improving your building is the reason behind your retrofit, you need a design/construction team that shares your retrofit goals and understands holistic building value and performance. You need High Performance Management.

PM + CM + Performance = HPM

High Performance Management (HPM) is a new approach to Project Management (PM) and Construction Management (CM) that aims to derive holistic business value from high-performance building retrofits. The High Performance Manager (HP Manager) oversees the design/build process to ensure performance, value, building health and economics are ingrained into each retrofit decision.

FIgure 1: Streamlining resources through High Performance Management

FIgure 1: Streamlining resources through High Performance Management (Click to view larger.)

Similar to a traditional PM/CM, the HP Manager acts as the owner’s representative to develop a master project plan and construction schedule and contracts service providers to get the job done. Unique from the traditional PM/CM, the HP Manager brings expertise in building efficiency and economics to help the owner identify the costs and benefits of performance objectives, as well as realize the value of those objectives through design, construction and operations.

So why not just hire a sustainability consultant to work alongside the PM/CM? This “bolt on” approach, where performance is thought of as an add-on rather than a central goal, runs the risk of missing opportunities for synergistic building performance enhancements that an HP Manager specializes in uncovering. For building owners retrofitting to enhance their asset value, realize significant returns on retrofit investments, make a positive environmental impact, improve the health and well-being of their occupants, and/or all of the above, HPM is the sure-fire, cost-effective way to achieve these objectives.

HPM uses financial and sustainability criteria to run optimization scenarios on performance enhancements. It also incorporates flexibility into the design, taking potential future changes into account that will inevitably affect building operations down the line, such as the number of occupants and emerging technologies. This built-in flexibility allows projects to maintain operational performance over time, rather than just in modeling scenarios that work for the building’s use today.

HPM has taken building retrofits to net-zero energy (NZE)—where a building only consumes as much energy as it produces—like the IBEW/NECA Zero Net Energy Center electrical training facility in San Leandro, Calif. This facility started with a gut rehab of its 1980s shell for seismic upgrades and ended with meeting NZE standards for traditional construction costs, also achieving a dollar-for-dollar appraisal value on its high-performance building features. So long, energy bills!

The HPM process will vary by project parameters and goals, but its basic elements can be described in concert with the phases of a project: Investigation and Discovery, Design, Construction Administration and Operations. Beginning with the definition of project resources and objectives, HPM employs an iterative process to streamline these resources throughout in each phase thereafter. This process is depicted in Figure 1.

PART I: Investigation and Discovery

One of the most critical components to achieve holistic building performance lies in the initial conversations between the ownership team and the HP Manager, when the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) are developed.

Traditional projects tend to rush this phase to cut costs and get started on design. Yet the soft costs incurred by spending adequate time planning before pencil is put to paper will significantly reduce changes during design and construction, when they’re much more costly and detrimental to the project schedule. Establishing objective criteria and fully communicating with all stakeholders is fundamental to high-performance retrofit success.

About the Author

Kim Kuettel and Ryan Potvin
Kim Kuettel is marketing manager for San Francisco-based Environmental Building Strategies, which optimizes the value of making intelligent and sustainable building and operation decisions by combining comprehensive financial analyses with building-science techniques. Ryan Potvin is principal with Environmental Building Strategies and brings years of experience in the real-estate sales, marketing and development fields to complement an active involvement in green building.

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