Human behavior may be causing green buildings in Qatar to perform far below their potential, according to a team of experts brought together by Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC).
Nearly two decades of research has shown that green buildings do not perform as well as their designers expect. QGBC and Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMU-Q), with funding from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), have initiated the first scientific study to determine whether the behavior of the personnel who maintain and operate these buildings – facilities management – is at the heart of this disconnect.
“The way that building performance is evaluated must change,” said the Director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University, Dr Mardelle Shepley, a member of the research team, explaining that, traditionally, green building performance is evaluated on its economic benefits and energy consumption, discounting human factors.
In post-occupancy evaluation, buildings are also appraised from the perspective of their end-users, such as students at a school or doctors in a hospital. Dr Shepley asserts that the QGBC/TAMU-Q study is the first to address the role of facilities management on the operations of sustainable buildings.
“Understanding the experience of facility management staff is critical to the effectiveness of sustainable buildings,” said Dr Shepley, underlining the pivotal role that maintenance personnel play in evaluating building performance, given their unique position in understanding the building owners, its end-users, and the structure itself.
“Our study will evaluate and compare three archetype buildings in Qatar that represent the commercial, institutional and residential; RasGas Headquarters, Education City Clubhouse and Qatar’s first Passivhaus, Baytna,” explained Dr John Bryant, associated professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University at Qatar. The team believes the difference in facilities management and operations between these types of buildings will be reflected in their performance.