Fire Safety Challenges of Green Buildings
Author: Brian Meacham, Brandon Poole, Juan Echeverria and Raymond Cheng, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Re-posted by permission of Brian Meacham NFPA
Many new commercial facilities are being designed and constructed with an objective of achieving a “green building” certification. There are many sustainable building features and products that singly or together may have an impact on fire safety unless there is a design approach which mitigates those effects. The Foundation commissioned this study to develop a baseline of information on the intersection of “green building” design and fire safety and to identify gaps and specific research needs associated with understanding and addressing fire risk and hazards with green building design.
A global literature review was undertaken to (a) identify actual incidents of fires in green buildings or involving green building elements, (b) identify issues with green building elements or features which, without mitigating strategies, increase fire risk, decrease safety or decrease building performance in comparison with conventional construction, (c) identify reports, studies and best practice cases which speak to the issue of addressing fire risk introduced by specific green building design elements, and (d) identify research studies in which building safety, life safety and fire safety have been incorporated as an explicit element in green building indices. In addition, consideration was given to how one might express the level of increased risk or hazard, or decreased performance, associated with fire performance of green building features. Steps were also taken to identify gaps and specific research needs associated with understanding and addressing fire risk and hazards with green building design. Brian Meacham et al, Fire Safety Challenges of Green Buildings (Fire Protection Research Foundation, 2012), p.2
Lt. John Shafer