See what it takes to win a high-performance award for your building — this year’s winners include a double-skin building façade with integrated shading and office building renovations

by Brianna Crandall — January 24, 2018 — The National Institute of Building Sciences recognized the winners of the 2017 Beyond Green High-Performance Building and Community Awards on January 10 during Building Innovation 2018: The National Institute of Building Sciences Sixth Annual Conference and Expo in Washington, DC.

Innovations for High-Performance Buildings and Communities

The Honor Award, First Place in the Innovations for High-Performance Buildings and Communities category, went to MFree-SCCF from Permasteelisa North America. The MFree-SCCF is designed to capture the benefits of a double-skin façade and integrated shading device without the potential maintenance costs and space requirements of a double-skin façade.

According to juror Bill Updike, principal with Integral Group, if effectively deployed, the MFree-SCCF system “can help realize energy performance goals while limiting long-term maintenance costs and the loss of rentable space.”

The system reportedly offers many of the benefits of a double-skin façade: a shading device protected in a cavity, which modulates solar heat gain and is controlled by the building management system. However, unlike most double façades, it is a unitized system that is completely assembled in a factory with high quality control.

There is no catwalk required for maintenance access, and the useable floor area is thereby increased (the depth of the cavity is not larger than the framing depth needed for structural wind loads). Maintenance costs are also reduced with just two surfaces to clean — the same as a conventional single-skin façade — instead of four. Installation of façade panels can be carried out in a single operation instead of installing each skin plus the catwalk individually. This reduces cost and accelerates construction speed.

“We have designed the pressure system that allows us to fine-tune the pressure that goes into the cavity,” noted Alberto Franceschet, executive vice president, Business Development and Sales at Permasteelisa North America.

High-Performance Initiatives

The Honor Award, First Place in the High-Performance Initiatives category, went to the Make the Switch at Phipps! Green Power Drive of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden. The initiative was born out of a desire to respond to results from a 2016 survey that found nearly nine out of ten of its guests consider climate change a threat now or in the future. Pennsylvania allows its residents to choose renewable energy; they just need the information, assistance and motivation to do it, noted Phipps. The Make the Switch at Phipps! Green Power Drive allows guests to switch their home electricity to 100% green power right on the spot and receive a free Phipps membership.

Juror Justin J. Zeulner, executive director and co-founder of the Green Sports Alliance, pointed out, “By demonstrating the impact energy choices have on the region and then giving visitors a clear means to do something about it, Phipps has created a powerful initiative worthy of recognition.”

Because it is concentrated on a local geographic area, Make the Switch at Phipps! is a prime example of community-based resilience, one in which a region’s cultural institution sees a need within the community it serves — in this case, a direction to take to help address climate change — and compels action on the individual level, notes NIBS. By switching to green power, a family makes a first critical step toward a more resilient way of life, and through their new membership to Phipps, they increase their access to a resource for reinforcing the importance of green and healthy living.

“We have to stop waiting for government to solve this problem,” said Richard V. Piacentini, executive director at Phipps. “Ultimately, a regenerative and resilient world is one in which we live in harmony with nature.”

High-Performance Building

An Award of Merit in the High-Performance Building Category went to the team responsible for renovating two existing office buildings into the North American Headquarters for Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed. This LEED Platinum project for both “Core and Shell” and “Interiors” features innovative building materials from the Saint-Gobain family of companies, including glazing, roofing, insulation, gypsum wallboard, acoustical ceilings and wall panels, and serves as a living laboratory so employees can evaluate products while making improvements.

Juror Deane M. Evans, FAIA, director of the Center for Building Knowledge (CBK) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (a 2014 Beyond Green award winner), remarked that Saint-Gobain’s “extensive engagement with their employees to achieve energy performance goals while maintaining a productive and healthy environment demonstrates a commitment to high-performance principles.”

The project team embraced multiple high-performance building goals including safety and security through extensive monitoring, the establishment of “safe-zones” for use in extreme weather or in active shooter situations, and ongoing safety and security training. For sustainability, in addition to achieving LEED certification, the project was designed to adhere to Saint-Gobain’s CARE: 4 program (Company Actions of the Reduction of Energy by a factor of 4). This program sets energy efficiency and employee comfort requirements for new construction and major renovation projects, and is aligned with Saint-Gobain’s sustainability goals of energy efficiency, environmental stewardship and healthy working environments.

During his presentation, Carmen Ferrigno, vice president of Communications at Saint-Gobain Corporation and executive director of the Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation, explained how the 352-year-old company was hired by Louis XIV to build Versailles and the Hall of Mirrors. An evidence-based organization that is now considered the oldest building materials company in the world, it recently shifted its goals to comfort and well-being. “You’ve got to talk about your failures,” asserted Ferrigno. “You have to tell people what you did wrong.” The company is sharing the data from its new headquarters on its Web site,

The Beyond Green winners will be featured as case studies on the WBDG Whole Building Design Guide. To peruse case studies of Beyond Green winners from previous years, visit the WBDG.