It’s long been realized in the building industry that you can’t manage what you don’t measure when it comes to building performance. But even if you measure, what ensures that those measurements are appropriate and meaningful?

A new book from three building-industry associations provides a standardized set of protocols over a range of accuracies and costs that can be applied consistently to the assessment of building performance. Published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and developed in collaboration with the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “Performance Measurement Protocols for Commercial Buildings” identifies what to measure, how to measure it, and how often it is to be measured for inclusion in buildings’ operation and maintenance plans.

Because energy efficiency should not compromise the services provided in the building, the protocols cover indoor environmental quality measures as well as energy and water use. Protocols are developed at three levels for each of six performance categories: energy, water, thermal comfort, indoor-air quality, lighting, and acoustics.

The three specification levels are:

• Basic level, which outlines simple, low-cost measures that provide an initial insight into performance at the annual, whole-building level.
• Intermediate level, which provides additional data on building performance, typically at a monthly frequency and major system level.
• Advanced level, which offers a more detailed and comprehensive analysis for building owners or managers wishing to gain deeper insights into the performance of a building, typically at a daily or weekly frequency at the system or equipment level.

“Performance Measurement Protocols for Commercial Buildings” is $89 ($75 for ASHRAE members) and can be found online at the ASHRAE Bookstore.