LEED® Certification for New Construction – Energy and Atmosphere

After finding a sustainable site and calculating water efficiency, it’s time to look at energy and atmosphere.  This category provides a whopping seventeen points towards LEED® certification, the largest amount of points awarded to any particular section.Required areas for LEED® certification are fundamental commissioning, minimum energy performance and fundamental refrigerant management.Fundamental CommissioningFundamental commissioning ensures that all HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire and life safety, and building security are operating like they’re supposed to.  This involves several ongoing site observations and then system testing, among other things.Minimum Energy PerformanceHere, the purpose is to establish a minimum of energy efficiency for the building.  This can be accomplished in two ways:1.    Building the envelope and system to comply with ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2004 Sections 5 – 10 and comply with the prescriptive requirements.2.    Comply with either the local codes or the Department of EnergyAdded to this area is a mandatory requirement to provide occupancy controls for any class, meeting and/or break rooms.Fundamental Refrigerant ManagementThis area is focused on reducing ozone depletion.  For new buildings, this means there can be no use of CFC-based refrigerants in any HVAC systems.  For other buildings, any mechanical systems connected to chilled water systems have to be CFC-free, and a phase-out program for those units and fire systems with CFCs.Optimize Energy Performance (2 pts +)For new buildings, energy performance must have a minimal optimization of 14% to gain the required two points.  However, you can gain up to ten credits with the maximum optimization of 42%.  Some of the ways to achieve this optimization are:•    Reduce energy demand•    Provide sensors in class, meeting and break rooms•    Harvest energy through building orientation, window location and natural ventilation•    Improve efficiency through the design of HVAC, lighting and building envelopeOther areas that fall under energy and atmosphere, with a total of six points, are:•    On-site renewable energy (3 pts)•    Ozone depletion (1 pt)•    Measurement and verification (1 pt)•    Green power (1 pt)You can find more ways to optimize your projects energy performance here.

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