More architects are embracing performance analysis as a standard part of the design process. The approach can yield significant benefits: steep reductions in energy and water use, lower operating costs, smaller and cheaper HVAC systems, and improved occupant comfort, among others. But many architects worry whether they can afford to take on a new, additional type of design analysis. This post, drawn from a survey of Sefaira customers, shows that rather than being an added cost, performance analysis can actually deliver a substantial return on investment.

1. Win more work.

As we discussed in a previous post, the market for green building is growing faster than the market for construction overall, and is expected to account for a majority of the overall nonresidential market within the next 1 to 3 years. Forward-thinking architects see performance based design as a key strategy for winning a larger percentage of this market. Performance analysis allows architects to clearly evaluate and articulate the costs and benefits of different design options, and proves their capabilities to prospective clients — an approach that has allowed firms to increase their win rate by up to 5%. (For more on this topic, see our post on using performance analysis to win bids.)


Source: McGraw Hill Construction


2. Offer additional services.

The AIA identifies energy modeling as “an enormous opportunity … for developing expanded, ongoing services and lasting relationships with the people who live, work, and play in the buildings we design” (An Architect’s Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process, p. 25). These can include additional conceptual performance analysis, energy master planning, post-occupancy services, and operational standards development. Many of these services provide opportunities to grow revenue with large institutional clients such as hospitals and universities — sectors that are growing quickly, and are increasingly interested in high performance design.

3. Avoid rework.

Performance standards are here to stay — and are only getting tougher. New versions of energy codes like the IECC and IgCC — which are being adopted at a rapid clip across the US — include (and sometimes require) performance-based compliance pathways. As the standards get stricter, the risk of late-stage rework increases. By setting a design on track early in the design process, firms have been able to reliably hit performance goals while reducing performance-related rework by 50% — a significant saving in time and design cost.

4. Make better decisions, faster.

Solid data can help drive faster, more effective decision-making. In the early stages of design, performance analysis can clarify the costs and benefits of different design options. In the later stages of design, analysis can help investigate the impacts of design changes. In our whitepaper on Performance Based Design, we study the impact of removing shading devices from a sample building. We can quickly see the impact on energy use, operating cost, and mechanical system size (and therefore capital cost). Fast, effective decision-making not only streamlines the design process — it is also a tangible demonstration of your value to your client.

Presenting Analysis Illustrations

Finally, it’s important to note that the cost of performance analysis (in terms of time and expertise required) has come down substantially. Sefaira’s Real Time Analysis brings feedback on energy (and soon daylight) performance directly into architect’s native design environment, and provides clear guidance on inputs and results — meaning that designers do not have to become experts, and analysis does not have to be an added step. Instead, it can be a seamless part of the design process, adding value throughout design and creating new opportunities for firms.


Trends that will Drive Performance Based Design in 2014

Energy as a Design Opportunity for Architects

Five myths about performance based design