NIBS and RICS Project: Can Public-private Partnerships Be Used to Promote High-performance Buildings?

As federal agencies deal with ongoing budget challenges, especially for capital projects, and aging assets facing significant maintenance backlogs, they are seeking new mechanisms to make sure they can continue carrying out their missions. Coupled with these funding constraints, agencies are under increased pressure to improve performance around energy and water use.

Recognizing these challenges, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are jointly examining how public-private partnerships (P3s) are employed in the U.S. and trying to identify opportunities to expand their use. And given how important energy management is to controlling costs and emissions, one aim of the current effort is to see if P3s can be used to promote high-performance buildings in the public sector. High-performance buildings more fully integrate sustainable operations and maintenance into building design and construction to make a building as sustainable as possible throughout existence, not mainly in early life.

The first step in this NIBS-RICS joint effort was a roundtable held in Washington, D.C., in October 2015. The session included a mix of participants from the public and private sectors and academia. NIBS released a summary report of the roundtable findings at its Annual Conference and Expo, Building Innovation 2016, in Metro Washington, D.C, during its Industry Leadership and Advocacy Symposium. One initial recommendation from the report is to develop a “Guide to P3s for the Public Sector,” including case studies of successful projects utilizing P3 in the U.S. and internationally. A more comprehensive report will be released during RICS’ fourth Summit of the Americas in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 5, during the session on “Funding High-Performance Buildings.”

“As governments struggle with decreasing budgets and an increased focus on energy and sustainability, public-private partnerships offer an opportunity to focus on the long-term performance of buildings while recognizing budget constraints,” says NIBS President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. “NIBS and RICS are working together to identify the steps necessary to widely implement P3s as a way to maximize opportunities and benefits. We hope this effort, beginning with last fall’s roundtable, will provide government agencies with the tools needed to achieve high-performance facilities that meet energy-efficiency and resilience concerns while minimizing operations and maintenance expenses over the long term.”

Neil Shah, Americas managing director for RICS, says: “We are excited to be collaborating with NIBS on this effort to expand the use of public-private partnerships and promote high-performance buildings as part of this work. We hope that the institute’s expertise in whole-building design and RICS’ knowledge of project finance and international best practices will lead us towards making significantly greater use of P3s. And we look forward to releasing and discussing further results of the research during the RICS Summit of the Americas, the premiere international event for leaders in the built environment, in Washington in April.”

View the Roundtable Summary Report.

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