Higher-Performing Building Envelopes: Where Do We Go From Here?

Tuesday, March 26, 10:30 – 11:30am

The construction industry has developed a fairly robust practice of defining minimum performance. The least. The worst. In ASHRAE 90.1 to the IECC, we have a well-honed, incremental improvement mechanism for minimum energy code requirements.  Similarly, we regularly shape code-focused, incremental improvements with respect to durability, sustainability, resilience, fire safety, and other minimum performance targets.  We generally rely on “market forces” to deliver any buildings and building performance that is better than these code-defined minimums.  As a whole, the building industry has failed to convey the value, importance, and achievability of “better than” minimum performance.

This paper describes several of the impediments the building industry faces in seeking to define and deliver buildings with better than minimum performance. While the primary focus of this paper will be higher-performing building envelopes, we will also discuss whole building performance challenges with respect to better than minimum.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • professionalizing the labor force involved engaged in building construction and renovation;
  • more robust economic tools to show the value of higher performing buildings and envelopes;
  • the need to better engage the financial and insurance markets in delivering better buildings;
  • the economics of performance deficiency
  • the very real cost of human discomfort
  • the perceived value of efficiency in the face of rapidly growing renewable power availability
  • the impediments to change when truly considering building durability and resilience in the face of climate change

We will conclude with a discussion of the need to more highly value buildings and building performance, the need for more robust performance measurement and performance signals, and the role of building performance professionals toward these ends.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will gain a renewed perspective on the importance of durable building envelope performance.
  2. Attendees will learn about how the ASHRAE and IECC code development processes are self-limiting in seeking to achieve higher-than-minimum building performance objectives.
  3. Attendees will learn new perspectives on the importance of life-cycle economics when considering building performance objectives.
  4. Attendees will learn about building performance measurement priorities to help engage the financial community, insurance community and other entities necessary to deliver better-than-minimum performance.
Level of content:
Intermediate; Advanced
Design Professionals
Testing & Inspection

Chris Matthis

MC² – Mathis Consulting Company

R. Christopher “Chris” Mathis has spent the past 34 years focusing on how buildings and building products perform – from energy efficiency to code compliance to long-term durability. Today, his business focus is to work with strategically-aligned clients, leveraging that knowledge and understanding to improve buildings, building products and the codes and standards that govern them.

As president of Mathis Consulting Company (MC2), Chris and his team provides a variety of strategic services to both private and public sector interests related to buildings and building product performance. The MC2 team provides strategic support services to energy and building industry leaders – from trend analysis to code assessment to regulatory positioning. These efforts address product and building performance issues for new construction as well as for renovation, energy use and peak demand issues for utilities, meaningful sustainability metrics, as well as local, state and national regulatory planning. Chris and his team conduct frequent training seminars for architects, builders, manufacturers, code officials and others addressing these myriad energy and performance issues – from improved building energy efficiency and comfort to energy and power planning to improved building and energy codes to the challenges of sustainability and green building.