Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Performance gaps of sustainability features in green award-winning university buildings

Lookup NU author(s): Jian Zang, Dr Mohammad Royapoor, Dr Kishor AcharyaORCiD, Dr Jennine Jonczyk, Professor David WernerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Authors. Sustainability certifications like BREEAM, LEED, and China's sustainable green building award certification scheme encourage installation of technologies that save mains water and grid electricity. Among these are rainwater harvesting systems, ultralow water use appliances, photovoltaic panel systems, and intelligent building management systems. In reviewing the performance of two award-winning university buildings over respective periods of sixteen and four years, we found that such systems delivered only 28–71% of their potential resource savings. These performance gaps arose from various technical and social issues (pump failures, tank leakages, poor alignment of demand and supply with limited storage, low photovoltaic panel efficiency, poor user acceptance, etc.), but the consequences were exacerbated by inadequate asset management that resulted in long system downtimes, in some cases for 2–5 years. Repair, maintenance, and upgrading expenses then combined with lower than anticipated water and electricity bill savings that ultimately meant that, for the most part, there was no prospect of earning a return on capital expenditures. Continuous monitoring of building water consumption by an external service provider was the most effective resource and cost saving solution in this study, as it required no capital expenditure, and revealed a 1640 l/h leakage, without putting high demands on the building management. In contrast, little value was obtained from 25 water-related sensors installed as part of a “building-as-a-lab” project because of inadequate post hand-over support. Robust post-commissioning operation should become a key criterion for sustainable building innovation, and this should be reflected in green awards and rating systems.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zang J, Royapoor M, Acharya K, Jonczyk J, Werner D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Building and Environment

Year: 2022

Volume: 207

Issue: Part A

Print publication date: 01/01/2022

Online publication date: 05/10/2021

Acceptance date: 03/10/2021

Date deposited: 01/11/2021

ISSN (print): 0360-1323

ISSN (electronic): 1873-684X

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108417


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name