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ranging from a few scofflaws, through the average-performing majority, to a small group of innovators—a variation on a pattern recognized across many industries (Roger, 1962). The idea was to use strategic market interventions to permanently shift this distribution toward higher performance. At the time, very little information existed to define this conceptual distribution of practice, and there was little experience with specific market interventions.

The lack of experience or data did not deter the movement. The nascent green building industry set course and went to work with passion. The early areas of focus included efforts to create a broad-based industry coalition, grow a trained workforce, create assessment tools, and reward buildings based on performance and achievement. There are clear signs of success in each of these areas. Here, we will focus on new opportunities pertinent to project-based information and analytics.

Green building practice rests on tools and processes to design and assess high-performance green buildings and communities (i.e., projects). These tools and processes allow practitioners to identify and communicate about relative merits of green building strategies (e.g., integrative design, energy efficiency, or water conservation), the achievement of milestones (e.g., facilities management policies), and, ultimately, the performance of whole systems ranging from interior spaces to neighborhoods (e.g., whole-building energy performance).1 These tools and processes are codified in building rating systems, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)2 and a number of analogous systems around the world (Cole, 1999).

LEED provides practitioners with a platform to advance the consideration of issues related to location and transportation, design and engineering processes, construction activity, site planning, energy, water, materials, indoor environmental quality, and innovation. One of LEED’s fundamental benefits to the market is greater transparency about the achievements and performance of buildings with regard to these previously invisible characteristics.

Over the past decade, the day-to-day tools underlying LEED have been a simple paper scorecard and, at the end of the process, a glass plaque displayed in a building lobby. It is remarkable to consider the impact that these simple elements have had on the industry. Today, we have the opportunity to build on these fundamental goals and concepts with information technologies that can vastly accelerate and scale up their impact. This paper describes one vision for this new phase of information-powered, analytically driven market transformation.


1 In this context, the term “performance” refers to a measurable, typically quantitative metric, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, water consumption, or occupant satisfaction. The term “achievement” refers to binary or qualitative activities, such as policies, procedures, or discrete choices (e.g., green cleaning, commissioning, or the use of third-party certified building products). The terms are often used together as “performance and achievement” to reflect the typical range of green building practice.

2 See for more information.

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