Putting the EE In LEED

Harvesting Energy Efficiency with LEED Certification

Katie Champagne for Zondits, July 9, 2014

Several articles have recently reported that LEED-certified buildings actually use more energy when compared to those that are not certified. This myth is supported by the fact that some LEED-certified buildings choose to achieve other LEED credits that don’t directly result in energy savings. When they do that, of course they will not compare well. In reality, if they choose to focus on energy efficiency the LEED certification process offers a variety of energy efficiency credit categories pertaining to an array of projects that aim to be more efficient.

Each LEED credit category includes sub-category achievements that are either prerequisites or are worth a different number of points each. One credit category, Energy and Atmosphere, directly relates to energy efficiency and includes the following achievements:

  • Fundamental commissioning and verification ‒ Prerequisite
    • The project must meet the owner’s requirements for energy durability.
  • Minimum energy performance ‒ Prerequisite
    • Achieve a minimum level of energy efficiency in order to reduce the environmental and economic harms of excessive energy use.
  • Building-level energy metering ‒ Prerequisite
    • Supports energy management by tracking energy use and identifying additional savings opportunities.
  • Optimize energy performance ‒ Possible 18 points
    • Achieve increased levels of energy performance beyond the minimum energy performance prerequisite.
  • Advanced energy metering ‒ Possible 1 point
    • Supports energy management beyond just building-level by incorporating system-level energy use as well.
  • Demand response ‒ Possible 2 points
    • Increase participation in demand response programs and technologies.

Another credit category that touches upon energy efficiency is Indoor Environmental Quality, which awards credits for:

  • Interior lighting ‒ Possible 2 points
    • Provide high-quality lighting through use of lighting controls and/or use of lighting fixtures with a luminance of less than 2,500 cd/m2.
  • Daylight ‒ Possible 3 points
    • Reduce the use of electrical lighting by the addition of daylighting.

Collectively, there are multiple ways to increase energy efficiency within the LEED certification process. Indeed, some LEED-certified buildings may be less energy-efficient than uncertified ones, but this may be because energy efficiency was not the main goal of these projects. LEED certification is a distinguished title in the green building industry, and with the right tools it can be an energy-efficient advantage.

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