Design teams seeking guidance on high-performance building projects now have another reference at their disposal. This week, the AIA announced it will promote the National Performance-Based Design Guide (NPBDG) by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to its members as a resource. It will also participate in the guide’s future review and updating. The NPBDG was released in May and is available online and for free.

The guide is based on the U.S. General Services Administration’s P100: Facilities Standards for the Public Building Service, which the Public Building Service’s Office of Design and Construction updated in March with input from NIBS to focus on building performance outcomes rather than prescriptive requirements. The NPBDG essentially organizes the P100’s 295 pages into an interactive series of tables and expands its relevance to commercial buildings.

Like the P100, the NPBDG outlines the criteria required to achieve four building performance levels: baseline, which means that a project meets the minimum building code requirements that most U.S. communities would deem acceptable; Tier 1 High Performance, or one star; Tier 2 High Performance, or two stars; and Tier 3 High Performance, or three stars. The latter three levels have more rigorous and voluntary criteria, culling standards and codes from a number of organizations, including ASHRAE, the U.S. Green Building Council, the Sustainable Sites Initiatives, and federal agencies.

For example, the guide’s Enclosure chapter specifies that a baseline building must have a 20-year roof, while a Tier 1, 2, and 3 building is expected to have a 30-, 40-, and 50-year roof, respectively. All project levels must submit plans and specifications for design review, while Tier 1 and higher projects must also submit an enclosure commissioning and maintenance plan in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association S478: Guidelines on Durability in Buildings.

The guide incorporates feedback from NIBS’s High-Performance Building Council, but the institute has been reaching out to industry organizations to assist with outreach and the review process, which will occur annually. ASHRAE, the first organization to support the guide, has agreed to review the Mechanical Engineering chapter.