The National Performance Based Design Guide applies to design and construction of new facilities, major repairs and alterations of existing buildings and lease-construct facilities. Its potential users span the entire spectrum of building professional disciplines and it informs and adds dimension to decisions made throughout a project's life.

The Guide identifies levels of performance, which allows a design team and other professional partners to select and implement the best strategies to meet project goals based on a defined set of alternatives.

Four levels of performance are defined throughout the Guide in matrices, in which "baseline" performance, generally commensurate with the model building codes, is the lowest permissible level. The three higher-performance levels are more rigorous and voluntary. The highest level of performance is a stretch goal representing the highest performance that can be achieved with today's technology. A project may implement any combination of performance levels, in order to prioritize performance opportunities that stem from climate, site, program, mandates and other conditions. Clicking in the cell corresponding to the desired level of performance by attribute will highlight the cell. The section can then be printed using the print function of the web browser to create a record of performance level choices by attribute.

Metrics to validate performance goals at various phases of design and construction through total building commissioning are provided where available and relevant. Phases identified are:

  • Measurements & Verification indicates the established standard used to determine if an attribute has been designed to meet the identified level of performance.
  • Plans & Specifications describes the pertinent information specific to the attribute that should be added to the project construction drawings and specifications.
  • Calculations & Analysis provides the established standards that offer methodology that should be used for calculating and analyzing the chosen level of performance.
  • Design Basis of Design describes what the architect/engineer should include in the translation of the owner's needs/requirements into design requirements.
  • Construction Verification determines which tests, in terms of field testing or checking submittal requirements, the commission authority should apply to ascertain that the design performance requirements have been met.

Additional information further describing attributes and performance levels of systems is available in some sections. This supporting information can be accessed by clicking on the Show the Key button at the top of the screen. Explanatory information is also provided for column headings and selected cells of the performance matrix. These "Tooltips" can be accessed by hovering the cursor over the cell or by checking on the "Show Tooltips" box.

The Guide embodies proven knowledge and cutting-edge efforts in disciplines that include safety and security, sustainability, durability and accessibility. It is the result of work that the Institute has done to help the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration transform its PBS-P100, "Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service," GSA's mandatory facilities standard, from a prescriptive to a performance basis.

The relevant content from the P100 that applies to any public or private building project has been used to populate the NPBDG initially. However, because it represents GSA standards which may be higher than code minimum, the baseline levels as well as the higher performance targets from the GSA performance based P100; need to be reviewed for compliance with industry practices. This review is being conducted by the High Performance Building Council's trade and professional society members, a group that balances owners, designers, constructors, product manufacturers and building operators.

Results of preliminary reviews by HPBC members have been incorporated into this initial release and will be further addressed in the ongoing review process being started with Guide's release. It is anticipated that the review process will lead to regular annual updates to keep the Guide aligned with changing industry practices. To help ensure that the owner-designer community is involved in the review and use of the Guide, the Institute is reaching out to leading organizations — AIA, BOMA and ASHRAE — to help with the outreach and review process. The Institute is also working with other trade and professional societies to assist with the review process for specific sections of the Guide as well as soliciting comments directly from users of the Guide. Comments can be submitted via the Contact link on any NPBDG page. Comments will be reviewed by the HPBC Executive Committee and shared with GSA. Responses will be provided and recommended changes incorporated in subsequent releases.

About the High Performance Building Council (HPBC)

The National Institute of Building Sciences founded the HPBC in 2007 in response to a request by the U.S. Secretary of Energy to conduct an assessment of the current voluntary standards and rating systems that define high-performance buildings. Using the integrated approach of the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide®, which defines high-performance buildings in terms of eight attributes: cost-effectiveness, safety and security, sustainability, accessibility, functionality, productivity, historic preservation and aesthetics, the HPBC conducted industry-wide research and analysis through eight committees — one for each attribute. The HPBC delivered the resulting seminal report, Assessment to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy on High Performance Buildings, to the Department of Energy in 2008. After the report was released, upon further review and deliberation, the Council added resiliency as a ninth performance attribute. Since then, the Council has concentrated on refining its recommendations for metrics and verification methods for high performance within the building industry.

In 2011, the HPBC released its first matrix of high-performance standards for industry review and use. The matrix identifies the attributes, metrics and standards for four levels of increasing performance, from baseline to high performance. The HPBC developed the matrix based on work the Institute had conducted for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) High Performance Based Design for the Envelope (HPBDE) project.

Further to its goal of identifying and facilitating the utilization of performance standards, the HPBC has developed a National Performance Based Design Guide (NPBDG) based on the principles of the HPBDE project and another related Institute project converting the U.S. General Services Administration Public Buildings Service P100 Design Standard to a performance basis.