Unlike almost every other artifact produced by modern industrial society — such as automobiles, aircraft, and electronic devices — the design, construction, and operation of buildings is still highly fragmented and comparatively unsophisticated. Materials of construction, coatings, cladding, as well as electrical, mechanical, and other components can be selected independently with little, or no, thought given to their interactions and the effects of their coupling on the building’s performance. As a result, many buildings are highly inefficient energy consumers.
New buildings are being designed to meet a higher level of quality, such as that set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, but even these buildings underperform, says Pennsylvania State Univ. chemical engineering professor Henry Foley.
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