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March 28, 2013

Developers to Score Extra Points in LEED V.4 for Renewable Energy





LEED buildings are not just built to last; they are built to sustain planet Earth’s environment and to prevent the effects of climate change. Now, LEED is working on version four (V.4) of its famous rating system, which currently is in the review stage and is scheduled for a vote by the membership in June.

Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based program that provides third-party certification of green structures. For example, in order for commercial buildings and neighborhoods to earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all LEED prerequisites and earn a minimum 40 points on a 110-point LEED rating system scale. Homes must earn a minimum of 45 points on a 136-point scale.

Among the contemplated changes to the rating system are several in the areas of renewable energy, metering, and carbon offsets. A brief description of the some of the new requirements is posted below.

Renewable Energy

The intent of the renewable energy modifications in LEED V.4 is to reduce the environmental and economic damage associated with fossil fuel energy by increasing self-supply of green power. Specifically, tenant renewable energy systems would be used to offset a project’s energy cost.

To satisfy the new requirements, developers may consider the use of solar gardens or community renewable energy systems if:

  •          The project owns the system or has signed a lease agreement for a period of at least 10 years; and.
  •          The system is located with the same utility service area as the facility claiming the use.

Credit would be based on the percentage of ownership or percentage use assigned in the lease agreement.

Metering

The new version of LEED would require metering that would support energy management and identify opportunities for additional energy savings by tracking building-level and system-level energy use. Version 4 outlines two possible ways of fulfilling this mandate.

Under option one–Existing Metering (1 point)–developers can install new, or  use existing tenant-level, energy meters to provide tenant-level data representing total tenant energy consumption (electricity, natural gas, chilled water, steam, fuel oil, propane, or biomass). Utility-owned meters are acceptable.

If developers choose this option, they must commit to sharing with USGBC the resulting energy consumption data and electrical demand data (if metered) for a five-year period beginning on the date the project accepts LEED certification or typical occupancy, whichever comes first. At a minimum, energy consumption must be tracked at one-month intervals.

Under option two–Advanced Metering (2 points)developers must install advanced metering either for the whole-building and all energy sources used within the tenant spaces; or for any individual energy end uses that represent 10 percent or more of the total annual consumption of the tenant space. Other requirements under advanced metering include the following:

  •          Meters must be permanently installed, record at intervals of one hour or less, and transmit data to a remote location;
  •          Electricity meters must record both consumption and demand;
  •          The data collection system must use a local area network, building automation system, wireless network, or comparable communication infrastructure;
  •          The system must be capable of storing all meter data for at least 18 months;
  •          The data must be remotely accessible; and
  •          All meters in the system must be capable of reporting hourly, daily, monthly, and annual energy

Carbon Offsets

The purpose of the carbon offsets alterations to the rating system is to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the use of grid-tied, renewable energy technologies and carbon mitigation projects.

Under the new provisions, developers would be asked to engage in a contract for qualified resources that have come online since January 1, 2005, for a minimum of five years, to be delivered at least annually. The contract must specify the provision of at least 50 percent or 100 percent of the project’s energy from green power, carbon offsets, or renewable energy certificates (RECs).Green power and RECs must be Green-e Energy certified or the equivalent. RECs can only be used to mitigate the effects of Scope 2, electricity use.

For U.S. projects, the offsets must be from greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects within the United States. One point is rewarded for a 50 percent offset; two points, for a 100 percent offset.

Next Steps

Following a public comment period, the U.S. Green Building Council will open the ballot for LEED v.4 (for members only) from June 1 through June 30, 2013.

To date, LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries. Projects outside the United States comprise more than 50 percent of the total LEED registered square footage. LEED unites developers in a single global community and provides regional solutions, while recognizing local realities.




Edited by Ashley Caputo

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