Whether your company is looking to be more environmentally friendly or simply more focused on saving green than actually going green (or perhaps a combination of both!), you are destined to get up close and personal with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Once you do, you are likely to find that there are many ways to achieve your environmental building goals and even more to make sure your investment in sustainability pays off.
LEEDv3, the most updated version of the internationally recognized green building certification system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) offers high marks to companies that install systems to monitor their energy usage.
LEED is based on a rating system that allows you to earn points or credits for achieving goals in given green design categories including: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. In addition to lowering operating costs and increasing asset value, LEED certified buildings reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate your commitment to the environment.
Sounds great? Right? Of course! But how do you know the investments you are making in your building are going to work at optimum levels?
On paper, it’s cut and dried. Install the required systems that will earn you points and earn your building LEED Certified Silver, Gold or Platinum.
Then, you have to ask yourself:
• How can I know I’m getting what these systems are designed to offer?
• How can I be certain I’m not spending and/or expending more money and energy than what is required to run my building most efficiently?
The answer to both these questions is simple; Earn LEED credits and be certain you are getting the most of out of your system by installing an energy monitoring system. For specific information, and to learn about the number of LEED credits your building may qualify for with energy monitoring, visit the USGBC.
Generally speaking, however, the USGBC has created two LEED programs – one for new construction and the other for existing buildings that are being retrofitted or upgraded to meet today’s more sustainable energy goals. Both programs have a significant amount of credits that can be earned by incorporating a system to measure and monitor energy usage in the building.
For new construction, credits can be obtained for builders who are willing to incorporate the commissioning process “early in the design process and execute additional activities after systems performance verification is completed.” Additionally, credits are up for grabs for builders who provide for “ongoing accountability of building energy consumption over time.”
Credits are also available for the measurement and monitoring of indoor and outdoor air delivery and quality.
For existing buildings, LEED Credits can be earned for the planning and documentation of energy efficiency. The program calls for the development of a “building operating plan that provides details on how the building is to be operated and maintained. The operating plan must include, at a minimum, an occupancy schedule, equipment run-time schedule, design set points for all HVAC equipment, and design lighting levels throughout the building.”
In addition to meeting LEED standards and earning the applicable credits for both new and existing construction, the installation of an energy monitoring system, such a Noveda Technologies’ EnergyFlow Monitor, puts the power in the facility manager’s hands, providing a systematic process to develop an understanding of the operation of the building’s majorenergy consuming systems, options for optimizing energy performance, and for tracking the impact of energy savings initiatives.
Installation of an energy monitoring system will not only help you achieve LEED certification, but the general goodwill and financial savings gained by your commitment to adopt sustainable building practices will also allow you to take advantage of many government incentives. LEED certification may allow your company to qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.
“If you are unsure whether your building project is a candidate for LEED certification, review the LEED Rating System Checklist that applies to your project to tally a potential point total. Your project is a viable candidate for certification if it meets all prerequisites and can achieve the minimum number of points necessary to earn the Certified level,” according to the USGBC.
And, don’t forget those easy-to-earn credits for energy monitoring. You’ll be reminded of your commitment to sustainability every time you open your utility bills.
Article by Bari Faye Siegel, a technology writer and marketing consultant at Noveda Technologies.