As the standard in green building best practices, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system is the world’s preeminent green building rating program, with 1.5 million square feet of building space certified to LEED every day. LEED version 3, also known as LEED 2009, is now up for revision as USGBC members cooperate to vote on its next iteration, LEED v4.
Hospitals in the U.S are known to be among the largest consumers of energy. They are open 24 hours, have hundreds of people living and circulating in the buildings everyday and in addition to the usual systems that AC, Heating or Ventilation, they require high energy consumption machinery such as Refrigeration, Sterilization or Medical devices to run all day. Hospitals come third, only after food service and food sales, in terms of consumption of energy. But the energy consumption is not the only problem Hospitals currently face, water consummation and waste management are issues that Healthcare facilities must consider and resolve. Such high consumptions could persuade some of these hospitals to take actions and lean toward the LEED certification model.
The United States is poised for a major transformation in how it gathers, distributes and uses energy. Not surprisingly, the way in which the country educates its workforce must also be altered to handle this transition. As conventional energy sources become more costly in both economic and environmental terms, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries are accelerating.
The nation possesses a tremendous diversity of renewable energy resources and a solid base of clean energy companies through which to exploit that potential.
These companies are offering innovative, well-paying jobs, but are often not always able to find enough skilled workers to satisfy demand. In order to fill these positions, a system of education must be developed that utilizes existing skills, emphasizes job readiness, and is backed by industry certifications.
Despite the growth of public transportation and other transportation alternatives, parking locations remain necessary in much of the nation. Even though parking consultants and design teams have been using sustainable practices for parking structures in recent years, many do not calculate energy use as part of their standard methodology. Unknown to most, a garage typically uses 15% of the energy that the building that it is designed to support uses.Worse, this energy use is often lost in the periphery of energy efficiency efforts. Parking structures should not be overlooked, though, because the savings potential is immense. Energy use can be reduced by more than 90% over an ASHRAE Standard 90.1 2007 baseline parking structure with typical construction costs.
Here are some design elements that can be implemented to improve the energy efficiency of parking structures
Design the parking structure to maintain an approximate 40% façade openness, which allows natural ventilation on all levels. This will be enough ventilation to preclude the need for mechanical ventilation systems.
Lighting is typically the largest load, particularly for naturally ventilated structures. To reduce the lighting load to almost zero during daylight hours, perforate the façade with aluminum panels that let in sunlight (while keeping out weather) and, if possible, design to include a “light well” in the middle of the structure to meet a full daylighting effort in the center of the space. If done properly, only a few places in the structure, such as under the stairs, need to be electrically lighted between sunrise and sunset.
The newest installment of CleanEdison’s LEED Certifications of the month series.
The month of March had a wide variety of buildings get their LEED Certification. The usual American college campuses were joined by a Holocaust museum and a university in Hong Kong.
In no particular order, here are the LEED Certifications of March 2013
Philadelphia School’s Ellen Schwartz and Jeremy Siegel Early Childhood Education Center
The Center, located at 2501 South Street, was recently awarded LEED Silver Certification under the US Green Building Council’s LEED 2009 New Construction Rating System.
During construction, a commitment was made to use as much locally produced materials as possible; preferred materials had recycled content. Spray foam insulation and fiberglass batts installed in the ceiling and walls resulted in a high R-value, a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it, and reduced air leakage in and out of the building.
A radiant heat system was installed. The size and positioning of the building’s many windows ensure ample natural daylight. Interior materials meet rigorous air quality standards. The drought-resistant landscaping and hard-surfaced areas were designed to help rainwater infiltrate into the ground rather than enter the city’s storm-sewer system.
Introducing CleanEdison Blog’s new series: LEED Certifications of the month!
Each month, more and more buildings receive their LEED Certification from the USGBC. This process takes over a year and is rightfully cause for celebration for those involved, and those who support resource and material conservation. Meeting the LEED standards is no easy feat and should be appropriately recognized for the achievement. In no particular order, here are some of the buildings that achieved certification in January:
January was dominated by colleges and universities, which have a solid track record of sustainability.
Rock Valley College – Karl J. Jacobs Center for Science and Math
Rock Valley College in Rockford, Il was awarded a LEED Gold Certification for their Karl J . Jacobs Center for Science and Math (JCSM). THE JCSM is the second building at Rock Valley to be LEED Gold certified – making it the first community college in Illinois to have two LEED Gold certified buildings and is one of only 20 in in the entire country to achieve that feat.
Rock Valley has been a leader in energy conservation and waste recycling for many years, but the Board of Trustees has made a formal commitment to be a leader in sustainability, not only through green design and LEED certification of all future building but in their philosophy of day to day College operations such as waste recycling and the use of green cleaning products.
Some of the features incorporated into the building project include:
- 420 ton closed-loop geothermal system provides 100% of heating and cooling load utilizing a central modular heat pump system
- Chilled beam cooling system
- High efficiency domestic water heating system
- Low flow plumbing fixtures that reduce consumption by 30%
- 1.5 Kw photovoltaic system
- Recycled 76.07% of all construction waste – diverted 382 tons of waste from the landfill
Energy benchmarking can unlock $9 billion in energy savings by 2020, suggests a recent report by the Institute of Market Transformation. Despite our lofty aspirations of energy independence and tackling global climate change, we are only beginning to implement the first step in the multifamily building sector – understanding our energy use. Multifamily housing has a number of characteristics that should make green retrofits an appealing investment, but only a fraction of the potential energy savings have been realized due to the lack of data on best practices and historical cost savings. Experts estimate that the multifamily housing stock could feasibly become 28% more efficient by 2020, which translates to 51,000 GWh of electricity, or 20 coal power plants worth of carbon emissions.
Increasing Demand and Barriers to Adoption
Given that energy costs have risen three times faster than rent increases in the past ten years, utility bills are beginning to be a significant burden on the almost 40 million Americans that live in these multifamily buildings, costing approximately $22 billion per year. Exacerbating the problem in the case of multifamily buildings is the larger capital investments for energy improvements, lack of available capital, and the divide between building owners, utility bills, and tenants. Still, the main obstacle may be the fact that many building owners have never measured, or benchmarked, the energy performance of their buildings, and struggle to make informed decisions when relying solely on energy bills.
In recent years, the idea of “Green Homes” has moved beyond the niche that it once was to the mainstream because of overwhelming evidence that they benefit the homeowners’ pockets, their health and the environment. Homeowners are recognizing that building their home to be more energy efficient and healthier is a wise investment for themselves and the community. Even those who have lived in a home for a long time are having it retrofitted with sustainable features to lower their bills and improve their health. Here is a list of the top 5 features that every Green Home should have. Of course, there is no strict definition of a green home and there is unlimited creativity that can be used to make a home “green,” but these should not be missed.
1) Holistic Approach
The most important “feature” that any green home can have should be included before construction even begins. That is, an integrated, holistic approach that takes every aspect of both sustainable and traditional building knowledge into account. Seeing the building through a wide lens, as an interrelated system in which everything is considered to determine the true performance of the building is crucial to being truly “green.” The whole house approach takes often over-looked aspects into account; construction site sustainability, long-term durability, waste stream, performance monitoring, occupant health and comfort, and carbon footprint, along with the more obvious motives of energy and water efficiency.
Some like to think of each new plot of land for a new building as a small factory where, on average, 22,000 components are needed. Just like real factories are moving towards “lean manufacturing” techniques, which systematically looks at each step of the process and removes any flaws, the ideal green home will have been well thought-out and coordinated. Ideally, the designer would perform a whole-house computer simulation that compares multiple combinations of variables to arrive at the most cost-effective and sustainable solution.
The decision to apply for LEED Certification is both exciting and daunting for designers and managers. Having your building recognized by the USGBC is a badge of honor in the design and construction industry, but it also means more planning, measuring and upfront costs. What’s more, a simple “LEED Certified” designation no longer holds the same weight as it once did; in fact, the most common designation is now LEED Gold. This requires getting at least 60 out of the 110 possible points under the current LEED rating system. Points vary tremendously in ease and cost, so make sure not to miss any of the low hanging fruits in this list. Also, you shouldn’t worry about whether these options will still be available under LEED V4; a project can still apply to the current system, LEED 2009, until mid-2015.
1. Include a principal participant with a LEED Accreditation
In terms of ease and benefit, the number one thing any project should do is to make sure you have a LEED AP on the team. LEED AP’s have passed the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP Exams, as well as documented experience on a project seeking LEED Certification. They will have the expertise required to design a building to LEED standards and to coordinate the application process. LEED APs also go through continuing education to ensure they understand the latest in integrated design and how to consider interactions between the various credit categories. Remember that they must have a LEED AP designation, which tests for advanced knowledge of a particular rating system; not simply a LEED Green Associate, which only tests a fundamental understanding of green buildings.
Are you going to GreenBuild 2012?
If so, you’ll be in good company. The 11th annual gathering of all those involved in ‘building green’ into the national fabric looks set to be the biggest yet – with 35,000 architects, facility managers, educators and green innovators expected to talk, walk and network their way around the Moscone Convention Center (LEED Gold certified of course).
After last year’s excursion north of the border (up to Canada’s Toronto), GreenBuild 2012 finds itself heading west, to what many consider the spiritual home of the green economy and environmentally-sensitive building – California’s Bay Area. Both innovator and leader, San Fransisco’s downtown area now has over a third of its commercial stock certified to LEED standard, or the equivalent.
Running from the 12th to the 16th of November (with the Expo open on the 14th and 15th), Greenbuild 2012 will be offering up the usual mix of exhibitions, educational opportunities, first-class speakers, exemplary eco-building tours and the chance to hook into the latest happenings on the green building scene. Two complementary conferences are planned, the National Affordable Green Homes & Sustainable Communities Summit, which seeks a sustainability that is fully socially-inclusive; and VERGE, the green-ideas-festival looking to catalyze a radical urban transformation.