I am excited to join leaders from across the Australian property industry at this year’s Green Cities conference in Sydney. I am especially looking forward to the opportunity to dig into new challenges facing the industry with a new Master Class about the science and technology of human performance and indoor environmental quality.

From my time with GRESB, I learned that Australia is the perennial world leader in the design and operation of high-performance buildings. Over the past 20 years, Australian property companies have innovated and adopted a comprehensive set of practices and technologies to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, waste management, and more. The next step for the Australian industry is to continue its leadership through the promotion of health, comfort, and human performance in buildings and communities.

This evolution has begun with widespread recognition about connections between health, comfort, and human performance and the design and operation of our built environment. Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)’s Green Star and National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) have led the way in defining best practices and recognizing them in practical rating tools. This has helped propel a new generation of high performance buildings and communities. The next step is to connect the aspirations of design with the reality of operations and the lived experience of occupants. This is the new “performance gap” for the green building industry. Architects, engineers, and allied professionals will need new resources to measure and manage buildings to promote health, comfort, and human performance.

Tools of this new trade include surveys, sensors, sampling, analytics, and more. Some of these tools are familiar, but some are only just emerging into widespread practice. For example, most professionals are broadly familiar with periodic occupant satisfaction surveys. However, they may be less familiar with the difference between instantaneous experience and long-term evaluations. Similarly, many landlords routinely use annual air quality sampling services; however, they may be less familiar with new technologies for continuous environmental measurement.

These distinctions are increasingly relevant to day-to-day building management. Moreover, we see new dynamics emerging in landlord-tenant relationships. For example, tenants like multinational corporations are increasingly aware that many urban areas suffer from periods of unhealthy air. The proliferation of public data about these conditions creates awareness among employees and questions about the level of protection provided by facilities. Simultaneously, buildings occupants are increasingly carrying personal environmental sensors. Although data from these inexpensive sensors is highly variable, it does provide a basis for discussion. These trends put building owners and managers in an unprecedented squeeze between rising public awareness and occupant-collected data — and, most often, owners and managers have little or no data of their own to contribute to the conversation.

During our 3-hour Master Class, we will jump into these issues. We will start with a discussion of core scientific and technical issues underlying human performance in buildings and communities. We will then review long-standing and emerging tools, including a hands-on exercise to design an indoor environmental measurement strategy. Finally, we will have a panel of experts provide their perspectives from practice, including Jorge Chapa (GBCA), Lane Burt (Buildings Alive), Chris Nunn (AMP Capital), and Andrew Cole (LendLease). At the end of the half day class, participants will have a new sense of the state-of-the-art environmental building measurement practices, the role they can play, and the road ahead.