LEED gets tough on water, energy use

Buildings need to submit data on a recurring basis, says agency

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LEED has stressed that ongoing monitoring of a building's energy performance is needed.
LEED has stressed that ongoing monitoring of a building's energy performance is needed.

As part of LEED Version 3, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced that buildings seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification will begin submitting energy and water usage performance data on a recurring basis as a precondition to certification.

“Today, there is all too often a disconnect, or performance gap, between the energy modelling done during the design phase and what actually happens during daily operation after the building is constructed,” said Scot Horst, senior vice-president of LEED, USGBC.

“We are convinced that ongoing monitoring and reporting of data is the single best way to drive building performance higher, because it will bring to light external issues such as occupant behaviour or unanticipated building usage patterns, all key factors that influence performance,” explained Horst.

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USGBC said it will be able to use the performance information collected to update future versions of LEED. “Building performance will guide LEED’s evolution. This data will show us what strategies work — and which do not — so we can evolve the credits and prerequisites informed by lessons learned,” said Brendan Owens, USGBC’s vice-president of LEED technical development.

“It will also help us to educate building owners on how users of the building can impact its energy use and water consumption, to be sure the building is operating as it was designed to,” said Horst.

Projects can comply with the performance requirement in one of three ways:

•    The building is recertified on a two-year cycle using LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance;
•    The building provides energy and water usage data on an ongoing basis annually; or
•    The building owner signs a release that authorises USGBC to access the building’s energy and water usage data
     directly from the building’s utility provider.

USGBC said the requirement will create a data stream on LEED-certified building performance that can be used by owners and operators to optimise their building performance and promote the establishment of energy efficiency goals over the life of the building.

“USGBC is proactively investigating cost-effective ways for every LEED building to become metered as a way to capture this data,” said Owens. However, this would be cost-prohibitive in a building with a central plant, a military base or a university campus. In such a circumstance, metering would be waived.

“LEED was created to transform the way we build and operate buildings with a goal of reducing the impacts of the built environment. The LEED design and construction certifications recognise one piece of a building’s lifecycle, but it is the day-to-day running of the building that has dramatic impact on its performance.

“We know that buildings can be a huge part of the solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel dependence, and USGBC sees this as one more step forward in accomplishing its goals for addressing climate change,” concluded Horst.

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