Objective: Develop, integrate, apply, and deploy measurement science assessing the sustainability performance of energy technologies and systems in an integrated building design and operation context, and provide the necessary information to stakeholders to make more sustainable choices in commercial and residential buildings in a cost-effective manner.
What is the new technical idea? The new idea is to complete research and develop a suite of support tools focused on the needs from a range of stakeholders that are making sustainability-related decisions in the built environment, both at the building product and whole building level. The completion and dissemination of building sustainability research is needed to identify and develop key science-based evaluation metrics that can be used in analyzing approaches to increasing sustainability in the built environment. Architects, designers, and contractors are increasingly interested in incorporating more sustainable building products in construction products. A tool (BEES) has been developed that allows sustainability (economic and environmental) performance comparisons across building products without the need for expertise in measuring sustainability. Additionally, there is a push within the industry to expand the scope of sustainability-related decisions at the whole building level. The suite of tools allows for decisions at both levels of analysis. The whole building tools address building sustainability measurement in a holistic, integrated manner that considers complex interactions among building energy technologies and systems across dimensions of performance, scale, and time. NIST is developing extensive databases of energy, environmental, and cost measurements for prototypical buildings based on a novel framework that combines detailed whole building simulations, innovative environmental life-cycle material inventories, and life-cycle costing (LCC). These measurements will be used to assess and compare sustainability performance for whole buildings meeting a range of energy efficiency performance criteria. The comprehensive sustainability performance metrics and databases will be embodied in a decision framework within an assessment and reporting tool (BIRDS) to help building industry stakeholders develop business cases and policies for sustainable investment choices. For architects and designers that have an interest in custom building designs, NIST is developing a tool (BIRDS OS) that generalizes this approach and data sources to allow for evaluation of the sustainability performance of custom whole building designs.
What is the research plan? Research to date has led to 3 industry support tools (and associated publications) that are at different stages of development: BEES, BIRDS, and BIRDS OS. For comparative analysis of individual products, Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) Online was released in 2011 to shift the original BEES tool from an executable to a web interface. To keep BEES Online on the cutting-edge of environmental science and continue to assist industry in sustainability evaluation of products, a new version is currently being developed (BEES Online 2.0) that incorporates new interface capabilities along with updating of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data, approaches, and methods implemented in database development. In FY18, BEES Online 2.0 will be released to the public.
The initial version of the Building Industry and Reporting and Design for Sustainability (BIRDS) web interface was publicly released in 2014 followed by new versions each year, allowing for stakeholders to compare the sustainability of a range of building prototypes across different levels of energy efficiency based on industry consensus commercial and residential building energy standards and codes. The release of BIRDS v3 introduced a residential buildings database that allows for incremental analysis of energy efficiency to and beyond net-zero energy performance.
In FY18, BIRDS v4.0 will be released and will include an updated commercial buildings database based on Department of Energy Building Energy Code Program’s Commercial Prototype Building Models. The commercial and residential databases will be combined into a single interface with additional features to improve the user experience. Additionally, the residential database designed for incremental energy performance analysis will be expanded to include new building component options.
In FY17, NIST used the same underlying framework and data from BIRDS to develop a beta version of the BIRDS OpenStudio Measure API (BIRDS OS) that allows an architect, designer, or other OpenStudio user to calculate the environmental performance of a custom residential building design without leaving the OpenStudio application. BIRDS OS will allow for sustainability evaluation of building designs in real time without the need for the user to have technical expertise in LCA. In FY18, the BIRDS OS Measure will be publicly released on OpenStudio's Building Component Library, allowing for OpenStudio users to easily download the Measure and submit requests to the BIRDS OS API.
This research plan addresses needs gathered from industry stakeholders and ongoing user feedback. The economic importance of this research plan and those of other NIST construction-related programs will be documented through annual updates to construction industry supply chain statistics for the Engineering Laboratory (EL) Director and the Manager of the Net-Zero Energy, High-Performance Buildings Program. These statistics incorporate both investments in energy-related systems and components and metrics for measuring energy-related expenditures at the industry and sector levels