An energy-efficient, green building can be a complicated affair, and despite all the careful planning, engineering, and performance modeling that inform the design and promise a certain level of operation, sometimes the reality falls short of expectations. As part of a strategy to bridge the gap between predicted and actual green building performance, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched a pilot program in fall 2009 that eventually will yield a roadmap for optimizing the efficiency of LEED-certified buildings.

During the pilot phase, the USGBC collected information on the actual performance of non-residential LEED-certified buildings, but now the data collection is being opened to all whole-building LEED-certified projects—residential and commercial—for the first phase of the broader Building Performance Partnership program (BPP). As the efficacy of high-performance buildings comes under more intense scrutiny, demonstrating that green building programs, such as LEED, can deliver on their promises is becoming increasingly critical to their continued success—necessitating the creation of the BPP program.

"In order to improve upon LEED and for projects that perform lower than anticipated, BPP will help projects meet operational sustainability goals sought originally during the design and construction process," said Scot Horst, USGBC's senior vice president for LEED, in a statement about the program. The BPP also will help inform future versions of LEED.

Launching this summer, the voluntary BPP will continue collecting LEED-certified building performance data, analyzing it and using it to generate predicted-performance and actual-performance comparison reports. Delivered to building owners, managers, and occupants, these reports will show aggregated data of similar buildings and certification levels, serving as a case study of a project's performance—strong or weak—and its improvement. The reports also will help identify the causes of building inefficiencies, such as occupant behavior and usage.

The USGBC says that more than 120 projects currently are participating in phase one of the BPP, which focuses on energy and water and is based on Energy Star's Portfolio Manager for LEED-certified commercial projects and on Earth Aid for LEED-certified residential projects.

Building owners and managers interested in participating in the BPP program may visit www.usgbc.org/bpp for more information.