How to make sure that money invested in buildings is well spent and that they meet users' requirements? Start measuring it with a new ISO standard!

A new ISO standard will help the building industry, real estate sector and financiers to evaluate better the performance of a building.

SkyscrapersA new ISO standard will help the building industry, real estate sector and financiers to evaluate better the performance of a building.

ISO 9836:2011, Performance standards in building – Definition and calculation of area and space indicators, uses the "intra-muros" concept used in many parts of the world. This refers to indicators of surface and volume in evaluating buildings and in turn help to evaluate the economic characteristics of a building. The relationship between the area taken up by the building and usable area indicates whether the building costs and materials have been used to their best advantage.

The standard is intended to be used when establishing:

  • Specifications for the geometric performance of a building and its spaces (e.g. in design, purchasing procedures, etc., or in building regulations where appropriate)
  • Technical documentation relating to the performance of whole buildings prepared by designers, contractors and manufacturers
  • The amount of floor area that will not be effectively available for the placement of an individual’s workplace, furniture, equipment, or for circulation
  • Evaluation, comparison or control of the properties of a building which are connected to its geometric performance.

Area and volume indicators are basic data for calculation and comparison of capital costs and for running costs and maintenance. They give a basis for the minimization of running costs by Iimiting the amount of space and the cost of individual materials.

The relationship between the area of the building envelope and the usable area shows the extent to which basic savings have been made on the envelope and the running cost of the heating and air conditioning systems.

For example, the standard provides rules for determining the amount of floor area (including attics, terraces, service floor, storage floors) and volume available for functional use of a building.

The standard also mentioned examples of using building loss factors (the percentage difference between rentable and usable area) when setting requirements for new construction. Some physical elements such as a column, a curve wall, where for example furniture can’t be put, has to be taken into account when fitting out a space.

Mr. Gerald Davis, project leader of this standard comments, “Many countries have local rules for measuring surfaces and volumes but such rules differ from one country to another. ISO 9836:2011 will provide a set of rules which can be applied in any country and therefore enables comparability of measurements and will help in calculation of costs and benefits of buildings.”

ISO 9836:2011, Performance standards in building – Definition and calculation of area and space indicators, was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 59, Buildings and civil engineering works, subcommittee SC 3, Functional/user requirements and performance in building construction. The standard is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 98 Swiss francs through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column).


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