By Derek Newberry, Advocacy Fellow

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) just launched a research initiative to investigate performance standards. This project will examine how the performance of commercial buildings can be improved over their lifetime through better design and construction methods.

The purpose of this new push is to ensure that buildings in the UK live up to the standards that are promised by developers. 

In a statement, the UK-GBC said that there is growing evidence showing that “all too often,” buildings fail to live up to their predicted building performance, otherwise known as the “performance gap.” Many buildings are therefore thought to be using more energy and water than the architects intended.

According to an article on, some experts have warned that the building industry could be vulnerable to a “VW-style” scandal if commercial tenants could take legal action against developers or landlords if a building does not live up to its promised environmental performance.

To address this potential issue and close the performance gap, the UK-GBC task force will consider alternative design and construction strategies. Julie Hirigoyen, the chief executive of the UK-GBC, is hopeful that this research will deliver greener, more energy efficient buildings. In a statement about the project, Ms. Hirigoyen said, “Huge cost, carbon and productivity benefits can be gained through a closer focus on the performance of he buildings we design, construct and operate them.

“Following the COP21 deal, this is just one of the ways in which the UK industry is showing its leadership and ambition.”

The research topic evolved from an earlier project which aimed to examine the building sector's ability to deliver viable, zero-carbon policy for commercial buildings by 2019. The UK government discarded the zero-carbon policy agenda in July 2015, but the group refocused their energies on building performance as a more practical way to deliver reliable carbon savings.

The UK-GBC task force expects to report the results of these findings in April 2016.

Our Chapter is happy to hear that our green building peers across the pond are proactively working to close the performance gap. Green Building councils near and far will get a great boost if customers start reporting cost savings after meeting the high standards in building performance rating systems such as LEED and BREEAM. 

We'll be eagerly watching to see how the results may compare to the performance gap in US buildings–and to see if other green building standards and studies begin to take a new direction after COP21.

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