‘Drastic reduction’ in paperwork for latest version
Getting an existing or new structure in the North Bay certified under a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, or LEED, rating system will be both somewhat easier to tackle but more stringent on efficient use of resources under a new version of the standards set for launch next month.
LEED version 4 (usgbc.org/leed/v4), originally called LEED 2012 when it was targeted for release a year ago, mainly encourages more collaboration between design and construction teams from beginning to end of a project, verified less use of energy and water, and more attention to the “life cycle” — recycled content and ability to be recycled — not only of products used but also the building itself.
Version 4 was approved by 86 percent of about 1,200 design and real estate industry consultants in June. The new version is set to be unveiled at the Greenbuild International Expo and Conference on Nov. 20–22 in Philadelphia.
Projects and buildings can still be registered under version 2009 of the nine LEED rating systems through May 2015. Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council released the first version of the LEED systems in 2000.
“Overall, we support and are very glad to see the changes made to LEED version 4,” said Aniruddha Deodhar, head of Autodesk’s Sustainable Buildings Solutions program. Autodesk, a San Rafael-based maker of some of the most widely used construction and manufacturing design software worldwide, has been a top-level collaborator with the U.S. Green Building Council on LEED standards and documentation. “LEED drives a large portion of our customers’ revenue and, hence, is important to us.”
Streamlined, ‘integrated’ process
One of the welcome upgrades in version 4 is a “drastic reduction” in the number of forms required in LEED documentation, a process that has become “more streamlined, flexible, user-friendly,” according to Mr. Deodhar. The number of forms has been reduced from 1,000 in version 2009 to 175 in the recent revision.
In addition to reducing labor-intensive paperwork in the certification process, the newest iteration of the rating systems tries to encourage more collaboration early in the project.
Toward that goal, one of the new credits in version 4 is for “integrative process.” The goal, according to the council, is to encourage design and construction firms to work together, making the process more cost-effective by incorporating elements early into the project.
Of the two points available for the integrative process credit, options include forming an “integrated project team” of architects, designers and engineers who meet regularly and are involved in many project stages, holding the equivalent of a full-day design charrette during at the concept stage or conducting at least eight hours of training for specialty contractor crews on methods and materials for reaching LEED goals.
Performance requirements in version 4 are more aggressive than before, particularly in new requirements for water and energy metering and higher standards for existing buildings as well as for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, according to Mr. Deodhar.
Nearly 40 percent of energy use in the U.S. said to be consumed by buildings. The LEED for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance rating system, used mostly for all but new construction, is getting a major renovation in version 4. Notably, the performance of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems was upgraded to the 2010 standards by industry group ASHRAE, and the minimum energy performance prerequisite for LEED points in the Energy and Atmosphere category increased to a 75 rating under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 100-point Energy Star system, up from a score of 69 in version 2009.
New prerequisites for points in the Water Efficiency and Energy and Atmosphere are installation of whole-building water and energy meters, respectively. In version 2009, those were among the oft-overlooked requirements in the footnotes of the forms. A new wrinkle is energy- and water-use data must be shared with the U.S. Green Building Council.
Those reporting requirements are going to be challenging for a number of property owners in the U.S., because many utilities don’t have standardized methods for ratepayers to download usage data, according to Michael Murray, president and co-founder of Lucid, an Oakland-based developer of BuildingOS software for aggregating and analyzing building operational data. Among its users is BioMarin Pharmaceutical, which has a production plant in Novato and headquarters in San Rafael.
“There are going to be a lot more questions that will be asked, particularly when there is not a 1-to-1 relationship between the utility meter and the project getting done,” Mr. Murray said.
For example, a government or institutional complex may have a master water, electric, natural gas or other meter for a cluster of buildings but not one just for the building to be certified, or a meter for a full commercial building might not reflect a renovation on a given floor, he noted. Washington is among the few states that requires a new energy meter for a renovated floor of a commercial building.
Adding a water submeter for a renovation in nonresidential building will become required for renovations under the update to California’s green building code, called CalGreen, taking effect in January and rippling down to local building departments over the next year.
As for getting data water and energy use, California is among the few states with mandated reporting of energy use from nonresidential buildings and disclosure during real estate transactions. California’s version, commonly known as Assembly Bill 1103, took effect this fall. Pacific Gas & Electric and other companies provide data interchange with the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager online software for compliance with AB 1103.
Yet, few of the nation’s roughly 3,200 electricity utilities use a standard system for exporting data, and fewer water providers have such capabilities, pushing paperwork on portfolio managers and property owners, according to Mr. Murray, whose company’s software interfaces with utilities data systems.
He’s an advocate of the Green Button data-interchange software, which allows export of ratepayer data in standard XML files. PG&E was among the first two utilities to implement Green Button since its launch in early 2012, and the 38 utilities now have committed to or using that system, according to the project coordinator, National Institute of Standards and Technology of the U.S. Commerce Department.
A new energy-related credits in version 4 is for demand response, which had been a pilot credit in version 2009. Up to three points are available for switching to automatic cutting of energy demand during peak periods and for trimming peak building load by 10 percent or more.
The U.S. Green Building Council has been promoting the addition in version 4 of lifecycle assessment, or LCA, via environmental product declarations, or EPDs, which are ISO-standardized labels for product materials that approximates the “Nutrition Facts” boxes required for food products.
These analyses can stretch from the product level up to the whole building, which designers control, and its surrounding environment, with “urban sprawl” and other issues controlled by local land-use policy, according to Liesl Morell, a LEED certified educator and manager architectural and contractor sales of commercial ceilings for Armstrong World Industries.
LEED version 4 offers two credits for conducting whole-building LCAs and sourcing products via such analysis and guided by EPDs.
CalGreen also is looking to incorporate lifecycle analysis. In the 2013 update, LCA is listed as “reserved” as a future mandatory requirement for existing structures and new construction, Ms. Morrell noted. As of January, analysis of the lifecycle down to interior finishes is a voluntary measure. If that’s not possible, then half the materials and assemblies in the building need to be evaluated via LCA.
Changes to LEED for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance prerequisites
|Site Management Policy||A new prerequisite for Sustainable Sites points and based on previous credits for Building Exterior and Hardscape Management, Integrated Pest Management, and Erosion Control and Landscape Management plans. This also requires to making a policy on best site management practices to reduce chemicals, energy and water waste and rainwater runoff.|
|Indoor Water Use Reduction||Previously called Minimum Indoor Plumbing Fixture and Fitting Efficiency, this prerequisite for Water Efficiency points was changed to move the baseline calculation forward two years to 1995 and lower the baseline before then to 150 percent of the UPC/IPC standard.|
|Building-Level Water Metering||This new Water Efficiency points prerequisite requires a permanent whole-building water meter and the sharing of water data with the U.S. Green Building Council.|
|Minimum Energy Performance||Formerly the Minimum Energy Efficiency Performance credit, it’s now required for Energy and Atmosphere points. The floor for compliance rose to an Energy Star rating of 75 from 69 in version 2009.|
|Building-Level Energy Metering||This new prerequisite for Energy and Atmosphere points, like the one for water metering, calls for a whole-building energy meter and for sharing of data with U.S. Green Building Council.|
|Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy||Combining the Sustainable Purchasing and Solid Waste Management policy prerequisites for Materials and Resources points, this required policy calls for a waste-stream audit every five years, unless other measures are taken, and new requirements for minimum storage space for recyclables and retail properties address “environmentally responsible purchasing and waste” in their supply chains.|
|Facility Maintenance and Renovations Policy||The Indoor Air Quality Best Management Practices and Indoor Air Quality Management credit is now a prerequisite for Materials and Resources points. Policies must be developed for purchasing, waste and indoor air quality on maintenance and renovations.|
|Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance||There’s now more time for meeting ventilation requirements for this prerequisite for Indoor Air Quality points.|
|Green Cleaning Policy||Incorporating the Green Cleaning High-Performance Cleaning Program credit, this prerequisite for Indoor Air Quality points now requires putting this policy into practice, while allowing for a certified janitorial service to do the work.|
Source: U.S. Green Building Council
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