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NCGBCS White Paper Looks at Role of Existing Building Codes

January 11, 2017 - 2:14pm

How Codes Can Be Used to Transform Nation’s Building Stock

The National Institute of Building Sciences National Council of Governments on Building Codes and Standards (NCGBCS) today issued a white paper focused on one of its priorities, “The Role of Existing Building Codes in Safely, Cost-Effectively Transforming the Nation’s Building Stock.”

Existing buildings define the main streets and the skylines of the nation’s communities. Yet, as these communities evolve to address changes in their economy and populations, they don’t always have the mechanisms in place to assure the safety and security of their citizens while providing building owners and developers a cost-effective means for updating the existing building stock to meet changing needs. Existing building codes provide just such a mechanism.

Communities across the United States state are faced with decaying, blighted and vacant existing buildings, yet half of all states do not enforce existing building codes at the state level.

In this white paper, the NCGBCS, in its effort to support high-performance buildings and communities, examines effective strategies for promoting the adoption of existing building codes, as well as developing and implementing educational and training programs for owners, builders, contractors, design professionals and, most importantly, code enforcers. NCGBCS also addresses some of the implementation challenges and enforcement issues, and the technical changes necessary to improve future editions of the codes.

NCGBCS unveiled the white paper during its Annual Meeting, held during Building Innovation 2017: The National Institute of Building Sciences Fifth Annual Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C.

View the white paper, “The Role of Existing Building Codes in Safely, Cost-Effectively Transforming the Nation’s Building Stock.”

The WBDG Whole Building Design Guide® Gets an Overhaul

January 11, 2017 - 1:50pm

Today, the National Institute of Building Sciences officially launched its newly redesigned free web portal, the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide®.

Used by millions of building professionals each year, the WBDG contains design, construction and facility management information and criteria required by U.S. military and other federal agencies, along with substantial content on topics of interest to all building professionals.

Following a year-long effort, the WBDG now offers expanded search and browsing capabilities to narrow results; a restructured site menu to improve access to desired information; bookmarking capability for account holders; faster loading and increased performance; a responsive template for viewing on any device; improved readability and graphics; and increased security. 

The WBDG design team also replaced the Construction Criteria Base, the building industry’s oldest continuously operating electronic information system (which has run since 1987), with the newly structured Federal Facility Criteria library. The new library reorganizes documents by government agency and document type while expanding the collection with new criteria from additional agencies. With this upgrade, WBDG account holders are able to subscribe to either a specific document or document type to receive email notifications when it gets updated.

A new continuing education platform on the WBDG offers students the ability to browse courses by topic and offers a more robust user experience. The WBDG has added several new course selections; and students are now able to retake courses every two years.

WBDG account holders, take a look to see what’s new!

Haven’t used the WBDG before? Check it out.

Institute Unveils National BIM Guide for Owners

January 10, 2017 - 11:56am

Today, following a year-long development process, the National Institute of Building Sciences released its new guideline to help building owners utilize building information modeling (BIM). The National BIM Guide for Owners (NBGO) provides building owners with an approach, from their own profession’s standpoint, to create and fulfill BIM requirements for a typical project. Unveiled during the kickoff of Building Innovation 2017: The Institute’s Fifth Annual Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C., the Guide is now available free online.

The National Institute of Building Sciences, with the support of ASHRAE, Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) and financial support from the U.S. Department of Defense – Defense Health Agency, compiled a carefully balanced, integrated team that has worked for the past year to craft the NBGO. The team developed the Guide under the premise that BIM, in and of itself, is not the end but rather the means to a number of potentially valuable project delivery outcomes for the building owner.

The 36-page NBGO addresses three broad areas the owner should understand in order to work effectively with the Project BIM Team: process; infrastructure and standards; and execution. 

The Guide provides building owners with a documented process and procedure for their design teams to follow to produce a standard set of BIM documents during the design and construction of the facility, and for maintenance and operations of the facility upon handoff. Establishing the criteria, specifications and expectations in the design and construction process will help owners capture the full value of investing in BIM, while providing a uniform approach for institutional and commercial building owners to achieve consistent BIM requirements for their facilities.

Thanks go to the NBGO team, including the team’s chair, Dan Chancey, RPA, Senior Vice President, Asset Management, Cushman & Wakefield, Commercial Advisors; Ernie Conrad, PE, BOMA Fellow, representing BOMA International; Carrie Sturts Dossick, PhD, PE, Associate Professor and Executive Director, Center for Education and Research in Construction, University of Washington; Craig R. Dubler, PhD, DBIA, Manager, Facility Asset Management, Penn State University; Johnny Fortune, CDT, LEED AP, BIM/IT Director, Bullock Tice Associates; M. Dennis Knight, PE, FASHRAE, Founder & CEO, Whole Building Systems, LLC, representing ASHRAE; and John I. Messner, PhD, Charles and Elinor Matts Professor of Architectural Engineering, Director, Computer Integrated Construction Research Program, Penn State University.

The new guideline, which is based on a number of foreign, federal, state and local BIM guides that already exist, is geared to a generic facility with uniform requirements for use by a variety of government, institutional and commercial building owners. It references a range of documents and practices, including those contained within the National BIM Standard-United States®.

The next step will be to submit the NBGO for publication as an industry standard. Download the NBGO.

Worker, Water Shortages Primary Concerns in 2016 Moving Forward Report

January 10, 2017 - 11:51am

Consultative Council Releases Report at Building Innovation 2017

Today, the National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council released its 2016 report, Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council, during its Annual Meeting, held as part of Building Innovation 2017: The National Institute of Building Sciences Annual Conference and Expo.

The National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council brings together leading U.S. building industry organizations to identify the policies, practices and trends that hinder achieving the nation’s goals of realizing high-performance buildings and communities. Each year, the Council develops a Moving Forward Report to examine some of these challenges and offer findings and recommendations on how to overcome them. The summarized report becomes part of the Institute’s Annual Report, which goes to the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress.

As identified in the 2014 and 2015 reports, the availability of a skilled building-related workforce now and into the future remains a significant challenge to the U.S. building industry. While the issue of water also has been covered in prior reports, a recent increase in droughts and infrastructure issues in places such as Flint, Michigan, have underscored the importance of potable water and the efficient and healthy use of this limited resource. While many of the other challenges identified in earlier reports remain, and those associated findings and recommendations still are relevant, the two issues of workforce and water continue to weigh heavily on the building industry, and are the primary focus of the 2016 Moving Forward Report.

Developing a Skilled Workforce

To maintain its contributions to the U.S. economy and the health, safety, welfare and resilience of the nation’s citizens, the building industry requires the availability of a skilled workforce. Yet, over the past several years, almost all sectors of the U.S. building industry have reported a growing shortage of skilled construction workers. In the 2016 report, the Consultative Council identifies several causes of this disturbing trend and offers recommendations to address them, some of which include:

  • Promoting technical and trade programs in K-12 and technical schools, emphasizing the good career opportunities available
  • Encouraging women and veterans to enter the construction sector
  • Establishing programs that employ building industry professionals to work in underserved communities in exchange for a reduction in their student debt
  • Developing state and/or national reciprocity programs for certified trade professionals, allowing them geographic mobility to follow career opportunities
  • Allowing low-interest federal loans to be used for industry credentials/certifications and post-secondary education

Water Resources and the Built Environment

Regardless of how well the nation’s homes and commercial buildings are designed and constructed, how sustainable and energy-efficient they are or how vital they are to a community or a local economy, all buildings require a connection to a safe, reliable and continuous water supply in order to fulfill their purpose. When a building does not have a safe and secure water supply, normal building functions stop, the conducting of commerce ends, people are displaced and jobs are lost. In the report, the Consultative Council offers recommendations, with the goal of initiating a dialogue to develop a holistic water strategy for the United States. Some include:

  • Expanding and adequately funding federal water programs to help utilities improve infrastructure while also meeting federally mandated water quality requirements
  • Allowing federal and state government funds to be used for projects relating to water reuse
  • Developing best practices for utilities to reference when changing their water treatment processes to reduce unwanted consequences
  • Modernizing the existing water pipe-sizing calculations, which were developed in the 1930s and 1940s
  • Incentivizing the removal of water-guzzling plumbing fixtures and installation of new, high-efficiency models
  • Requiring utilities to provide and install smart water meters
  • Requiring compliance with standards to mitigate outbreaks of legionellosis and other water-borne diseases in building water systems
  • Issuing uniform water-treatment and water-quality requirements for the use of non-potable water

As highlighted in the 2016 Moving Forward Report, both the public and private sectors in the United States can take a number of steps to address the challenges of developing the U.S. building industry’s workforce and improving the nation’s water safety and efficiency. Now is the time for action. Continuing to neglect these problems makes them exponentially more expensive to resolve. Implementing solutions will significantly impact the nation’s ability to thrive economically and socially. Through the Consultative Council and other cross-industry groups, the building industry stands ready to create actionable policies and practices that support improving the building industry workforce and the safe, efficient and responsible use of water.

Download the Consultative Council’s 2016 Moving Forward Report.

Learn more about the Consultative Council.