Outcome-based design challenges architects to walk the high-performance talk

green-buildDesigning high-performance buildings is more akin to cutting calories and hitting the gym than eating nothing but grapefruit and water for a week. One way may take longer to see results, but it is also far more likely to result in sustained loss. In other words, it’s the tortoise, not the hare that wins the race.

In architecture, this delayed gratification is resulting in a trend toward performance-based incentives. Architecture firms and clients are entering into formal, and informal, agreements — some with monetary incentives attached — that ensure designs are living up to the promises made in the RFQ process.

As OPN Architect’s Sustainability Director Tate Walker told Building Green magazine for their article Mouth, Meet Money: Case Studies of Outcome-Based Design in Environmental Building News  architects are willing to put in extra time to deliver post-occupancy because the data speaks volumes about our projects.

For example, OPN is working on several net zero designs, which require creative solutions, not because it’s stipulated in the contract, but because the design teams are intrigued by the challenge and our clients are engaged and willing.

There’s much we can learn that will lay the the groundwork for making outcome-based design more mainstream.

Walker, an expert on building performance, speaks nationally about  high performance buildings and performance contracting. A LEED Fellow, he is alson on the AIA Committee On The Environment Advisory Group.

The article offers case studies of high performing buildings designed with performance incentives. It also outlines ways architects can be prepare for this new normal.