Green buildings are created to provide healthy and productive indoor environments for their occupants. While achieving these goals can consume energy and funds, efforts to conserve energy can end up degrading the quality of the indoor environment. Therefore, a healthy indoor environment will more likely be achieved if certain priorities are established early on in the design process. These goals include understanding the integrated relationship between saving energy and the achievement of good indoor air quality, the importance of effective air sealing of the building envelope, the ability to control air contaminants, and the importance of continually managing moisture and ventilation performance over the life of the building.
While this market transformation toward green buildings has begun largely through the efforts of the U.S. Green Building Council and the LEED products, there are still many more steps along this path that need to be taken if healthy green buildings are to become the norm. Just as operational investment decisions need to focus more on Life Cycle Costs as opposed to merely minimizing initial costs, building performance evaluations need to be more holistic in scope and consider how all of the building components interact to contribute to the achievement of a healthy indoor environment as a whole.
The goal of achieving and maintaining healthy green buildings is dependent on having accurate and timely feedback on such key building parameters as the effectiveness of air barrier sealing, air contaminant control, and ventilation and moisture management performance. The evaluation of these parameters depends on knowing what metrics relating to building performance are most important to have, and what are the best and most accurate ways of obtaining this information on building performance in a timely fashion. Having accurate diagnostic feedback on building performance in these areas will not only help achieve and maintain a healthy environment, it will also reduce risks and uncertainties in building operation and reduce the time between identifying a problem with the building, and when it is understood and corrected. The longer this interval takes, the more the occupants will be adversely affected, and potentially suffer degradations in health, morale, and productivity.