The Urgent Need for Optimising Building Performance

Operational energy use by buildings accounts for a significant portion of global energy consumption, making it crucial to find solutions to address this issue. According to architect and energy engineer Hariharan Natarajan from SketchUp, designing buildings with optimal performance is the most urgent response to the energy crisis. While the original article emphasized specific strategies, let’s explore a fresh perspective on this important topic.

To begin, designers of new buildings should prioritize reducing overall loads by implementing passive strategies. This means creating buildings that require minimal cooling and heating. By choosing efficient systems that meet these reduced needs, designers can ensure minimal energy consumption. Furthermore, architects should design buildings that allow for optimized operation, enabling flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. For example, pre-cooling a building during a hot day is a smart approach.

In the pursuit of sustainability, architects should emphasize electricity over other fuel sources and prioritize the use of renewable and emission-free power sources. In fact, buildings that exclusively prioritize electricity can help achieve net-zero emissions. Additionally, architects can promote upcoming technologies by incorporating design elements that incentivize their adoption. For instance, building owners can install car charging stations to encourage the use of electric vehicles.

Moreover, architects can optimize their designs by taking advantage of mass public services such as transportation. By collaborating with governments to improve transport infrastructure, architects can design buildings that prioritize accessibility to these services.

Furthermore, architects must prioritize sustainable building design regardless of cost considerations. Designing sustainable buildings as a cultural imperative eliminates any doubts about profitability. Architects should also demonstrate to owners that sustainable, energy-efficient buildings have comparable costs to regular buildings and offer long-term energy savings.

To effectively measure the impact of sustainable initiatives on energy consumption, architects should use building energy simulation software during the design process. By employing this software, designers can make informed choices that lead to energy-efficient buildings. Additionally, architects should conduct climate analyses for sites to better understand the environmental conditions and design solutions accordingly.

Examples abound of how smart design decisions can positively impact a project’s cost and energy output. High-performance buildings not only provide a pleasant living and working environment but also contribute to the surrounding community. For instance, the redesign of the Net Zero Energy School in Washington DC revitalized the space and boosted community engagement.

Architects can prioritize energy performance as a hallmark of design excellence by continuously measuring and recording the projected energy performance of their buildings. By utilizing building energy simulation tools and sharing these metrics openly, architects can track their progress in designing energy-efficient buildings.

In conclusion, optimizing building performance is a pressing need in our quest for sustainable solutions. Architects have the power to make a positive impact on the environment through their design choices. By prioritizing energy efficiency and adopting innovative strategies, we can create buildings that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also environmentally responsible. Let us embrace the imperative for sustainable buildings as an urgent necessity in the face of the climate crisis.


1. How can architects prioritize sustainable buildings over lowering costs?

Architects should prioritize sustainable buildings as a cultural imperative, focusing on long-term benefits such as energy savings and improved environmental impact. By emphasizing these advantages, architects can make the case to owners that sustainable buildings have comparable costs to regular buildings.

2. How can architects measure the effectiveness of sustainable initiatives?

Architects can use building energy simulation software to understand the implications of their design choices on energy consumption. Conducting climate analyses for sites and continuously monitoring energy use in buildings also enable architects to measure and improve the effectiveness of sustainable initiatives.

3. Can smart design decisions positively impact a project’s cost and energy output?

Yes, smart design decisions can have cascading benefits beyond cost and energy output. High-performance buildings contribute to the community by reducing local crime rates, creating jobs, fostering local pride, and improving education. The redesign of the Net Zero Energy School in Washington DC is an example of how smart design decisions positively impacted both the students and the wider environment.