Widespread Deployment of Innovative Technologies for High-Performance Buildings

Meeting mandates to reduce energy and water use in facilities, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to use environmentally preferable products requires the use of new technologies and products. The barriers to deploying innovative technologies on a widespread basis are well known and well documented. The market for technologies for high-performance facilities consists of many different components designed to achieve different purposes, thousands of developers and suppliers, and potentially hundreds of millions of users (NAS-NAE-NRC, 2010). The size and complexity of this market, the lack of knowledge about the effects of some of these technologies, and risk-averse behavior on the part of suppliers and purchasers limits the adoption of new technologies and tools. Other factors that come into play include the following:

  • Limited supply and availability of some technologies;
  • Consumers’ lack of information and lack of time to do the necessary research;
  • Lack of capital for investment;
  • Fiscal or regulatory policies that discourage investment in high-performance technologies, even inadvertently;
  • Building codes and standards; and
  • Perceived risk of new technologies and concerns about legal claims and liability in the event of failure (NAS-NAE-NRC, 2010).

Gaps in Knowledge

Although much progress has been achieved in all facets of creating high-performance facilities, additional research is needed about processes, metrics, and evidence-based design, along with additional testing and development of new tools and technologies. The Federal Research and Development Agenda for Net-Zero Energy, High-Performance Green Buildings (NSTC, 2008) addresses a range of research and development needs related to

  • Effective performance measures and metrics;
  • Net-zero-energy building technologies and strategies;
  • A scientific and technical basis for significant reductions in water use and improved rainwater retention;
  • Processes, protocols, and products for building materials that minimize resource utilization, waste, and life-cycle environmental impacts;
  • A knowledge base and associated energy efficiency technologies and practices needed to promote occupant health, comfort, and productivity; and
  • Technology transfer.

Additional areas require more research and development. For example, the interdependencies among systems are generally unknown, which creates uncertainty and reduces willingness to invest in the commercialization of promising technologies.

Chapter 3 discusses the levers of change that can be used by federal agencies to overcome the identified challenges, barriers, and gaps in knowledge so that they can meet objectives related to high-performance facilities.

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