Article Date: 01/17/2014

What Is the Cost of Lost Productivity When a Building Underperforms?

By Steve Rizer


When a building fails to perform the way it should, how much of a financial blow should be expected from the resulting loss of occupant productivity? Whatever the true cost impact is, Commissioning Concepts President Jim Bochat is concerned about the problem and painted an eerie portrait of it for ConstructionPro Week (CPW) after delivering a presentation entitled “Commissioning for New Construction” at last week’s Building Innovation 2014 Conference in Washington, D.C. Here is one unsettling scenario he broached during the interview:


“Since the costs of people per square foot of floor space is estimated to be around $3,500 per square foot for the life of the building (20 years), if you degrade productivity by 10 percent because your building is not performing well, the cost impact can be $350 per square foot. Building professionals and owners need to realize building performance is critical to their business success, and they should be paying much more attention to this subject than they have been doing in the past.”


Bochat stressed that building performance consists of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) as well as energy and water performance. He believes that IEQ is the most important but least understood or verified of these components. “Energy and water performance is much easier to verify from utility bills and data. IEQ … consists of building comfort (temperature, humidity, and air velocity), indoor air quality, lighting quality, and acoustic quality. The IEQ parameters are what make a building suitable for its intended use. With a low IEQ quality, productivity suffers.”


Bochat explained that performance verification “is beginning to be incorporated into the construction requirements. Once the actual performance of a building is verified, you can hold the design professional, contractor, and commissioners accountable for building performance. This is the only way the actual performance of our buildings will improve.” He added that “if you want a building to achieve high performance, you must measure the performance both at the end of construction and all during the occupancy phase of a building.”


Also included in the green building portion of CPW's Building Innovation 2014 conference coverage (ConstructionPro Network member access):

  • More Comments from Commissioning Concepts President Jim Bochat
  • Experts Discuss Going "Beyond Green"
  • Exhibitor/Sponsor Briefs Featuring the Institute for Building Technology and Safety, Kingspan Insulated Panels, and Others

To learn more about ConstructionPro Network membership or to join, click here.



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