What Are High-Performance Buildings? (2022 Guide)

What are high-performance buildings? High-performance green buildings are key for profitable and maintainable buildings. And with Building Asset and Performance Management services, you can develop a building that works optimally. Here’s how.

What are the characteristics of a high-performance building?

To maximize cost-savings and optimize your building to get the best return on investment, your building needs to perform now and in the future.

Optimizing your building happens at different stages, both when you’re planning a construction project and when you have a fully operational building. Some of the main aspects of building performance are energy efficiency, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and lighting.

So what are the benefits of high-performance buildings? Here they are:

  • Lower construction and development costs.
  • Energy and resource savings.
  • Higher productivity levels.
  • An increase in your building’s value.
  • More available data thanks to smart building technology.

To achieve these objectives, construction and development costs aren’t necessarily higher than they would be for other buildings. That’s before even considering the long-term operational savings. In fact, the upfront costs can be zero or negative.

How do you then ensure that your building performs in the best way possible? Simple: Implement proper strategies at an early stage and hire experienced design and construction teams to ensure quality services. That’s what we’ll look at next.

How to optimize building performance

How do you optimize building performance?

To get these savings and ensure that your building operates as optimally as possible, the most cost-effective way is to take in professionals who can help you at the planning stage, at the construction stage, and when your building is fully operational.

Here’s what these services look like:

Building Performance Analysis

How do you minimize costs during the construction stage and ensure energy, money, and other resource savings in the long-term? To achieve this, you need to be able to estimate how your building will operate and utilize energy.

This is where Building Performance Analysis comes in.

This advanced service is used to simulate how a building’s systems will function over a period of time. This is done to better determine the best possible energy savings.

Building Performance Analysis is ideally performed during the early design stage in order to help you make more informed choices before construction begins. It can also be performed when the building is already operational in order to improve on-going asset performance.

Building Performance Analysis includes:

  • Energy modeling. Energy modeling uses software to perform a building performance assessment and to analyze how all your building’s systems are functioning. That way, your costs (like monthly energy bills) can be calculated and this will help you cut your operational costs.
  • Daylight analysis. With daylight analysis tools, you create an effective daylight design for your building. With this design, you can then reduce your energy consumption, improve visual comfort, and boost overall building performance. In fact, proper daylight can increase employee productivity by 10-15%.
  • Indoor thermal comfort. By analyzing your HVAC systems, you ensure that they are operating efficiently. Plus, indoor thermal comfort has a major impact on occupants’ productivity.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and outdoor thermal comfort. CFD helps you analyze shade, water features, wind flow, and more. With this service, you can take into use the most effective outdoor thermal comfort solutions.
  • Compliance modeling and optimization. You can use energy modeling to analyze building performance over a period of time and then benchmark that against a standard like ASHRAE 90.1. This information enables you to make educated decisions about innovative improvements for the best ROI.

Operational stage services

When your building is already operational, the next step is to use different operational stage services. For example, your building can be upgraded to a smart building, which will help it perform better thanks to different technological solutions.

Alternatively, you can use services like these to improve building performance at the operational stage:

  • Optimization of MEP systems. You keep track of your MEP systems to ensure effective and efficient performance by using MEP optimization solutions. Tracking your MEP systems helps you identify errors so that you can implement improvements, which will reduce operational costs and save you time.
  • Ongoing commissioning. According to the WorldGSCE, buildings need ongoing commissioning and effective management to perform at their best. Ongoing commissioning services will ensure that your building measures up to global building performance standards (ASHRAE, CIBSE, BSRIA, and SMACNA, as well as mandatory LEED, Estidama, BREEA and GSAS system requirements). These services reduce contractor callbacks due to operational deficiencies.
  • ASHRAE energy audits. With ASHRAE building performance assessments, you can identify how your building is underperforming and wasting energy. You can then use this information to improve your building’s efficiency.
  • Measurement and verification post building occupancy. By performing ASHRAE Audit 1 and 2 and supervising the implementation, measurement, and verification phases, you’ll have the necessary tools and equipment to perform crucial audits.
  • Testing and optimization of BMS. Building performance can be improved by implementing emerging technology for Monitoring Based Commissioning.
  • LEED EBOM. As one of the leading green standards, LEED will help you achieve cost savings and an increase in your building valuation. LEED for Existing Buildings requires recertification every five years. That’s a service you might consider in order to improve the performance of your existing building.
  • BIM support during the operational stage. You can get integrated BIM support throughout your building’s life-cycle. This way, you access crucial information that helps you improve the way your building operates.
  • Air quality testing. With regular air quality testing, you identify and remove any pollutants that reduce air quality in your building (and that way, your building performance). This is one of the biggest contributors to the health and comfort of your building’s occupants.
  • Regulatory support. Finally, regulatory support will ensure that your project continues to adhere to laws, regulations, and guidelines.

What is the ROI of Building Asset and Performance Management?

Now that you know how to improve building performance, what’s the actual ROI of these measures?

As with construction and development projects in general, the specific ROI will depend on your project, the scope of it, and the types of services you’re looking for. Here’s a rough overview of what goes into the ROI of your project.

What return on investment can you expect?

First, let’s take a look at the tangible results you can get by optimizing building performance. These have a direct impact on your bottom line and your building’s ROI.

Lower construction and development costs

By planning buildings that perform optimally, you will lower your construction and development costs. For example, you won’t waste money and time on the wrong resources or planning a building that doesn’t work in the long run.

Saved costs

Buildings that perform optimally are shown to reduce energy and water use. Long-term operations and maintenance costs go down.

Rents and sales prices

Studies show that performance-optimized buildings attract tenants more easily. Landlords can command higher rents and sales prices. Plus, building performance can positively affect financing.


Research shows that buildings that are optimized to perform the best improve worker productivity. That way, a business’s bottom line is directly affected.

Future use of building

Plus, a performance-optimized building comes with fewer risks. With weather challenges related to global warming, as well as regulatory risks, real estate becomes less insurable and asset value is put into question. But with a building that is optimized to perform well, these risks go down.

High-performance building case study

To give you an idea of what this looks like in practice, let’s take a look at our own projects.

At Alpin, we work with some of the region’s most prestigious projects. This goes beyond business interests for us because our mission is to build a greener, more sustainable future.

As green building services are some of our core services and we have over a decade of experience in the field, we see the ROI time and time again.

With our operational stage support services, we have helped clients achieve results like 15-30% energy savings through commissioning and retro-commissioning, 10X increase in financial benefits, 30% increase in fresh air, and 10-15% time saved through BIM for FM in comparison with non commissioned projects.

For example, we helped the main contractor of one of our clients, the New York University Abu Dhabi campus, verify the parameters they set out for u-value, lighting, and HVAC and by giving feedback on the HVAC and water system to identify energy and water consumption savings.

building performance project

As a result, NYU was able to achieve energy savings of 30% if benchmarked against the ASHRAE 90.1 baseline.

Over to you!

Now you know how high-performance buildings help maximize building ROI. What it comes down to is planning well ahead before you move to the construction stage. With a building that’s already operational, you need to ensure building performance with operational services.

Wondering how this applies to your project? Read more about our Building Asset and Performance Management services here.