The modern green building movement first targeted new construction and asked developers, building owners, architects, engineers, and contractors to think differently about resource extraction, put systems in place to use less energy and water, and reduce the building's environmental footprint. But once we went back into these structures, we found that many buildings designed to be high performance aren't operating efficiently. The sustainable design industry then turned an eye to existing buildings, and facility managers, building engineers, staff, employees, and vendors took on major roles. Upgrades and retrofits helped set the stage for success, but again, a disconnect between the design intent and the day-to-day operations of a facility often remained. Until the disconnect is resolved, many of the best laid plans for green buildings will continue to fall through the proverbial cracks.
An architect's contractual obligations typically end one year after construction. In most cases, the entire design team has moved on to other projects shortly after building occupancy. These professionals rarely get to see how well their design is performing and help strategize corrections when necessary, so building owners typically do not benefit from the design teams' expertise post-occupancy. Conversely, the people who operate the building usually don't have a chance to be involved in the design process, yet they possess invaluable information about their facility's requirements, staff routines and employee concerns. Building owners can forge a more dynamic, integrated process by restructuring their approach in several key areas.
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