One common misunderstanding about the rigorous US Green Building Council (USGBC)’s LEED process is the time required to achieve project certification. A project’s LEED goals and assignments should be established early in the design phase. It is not the sole opportunity for a project to go after LEED certification, but there are credits that can only be achieved by consideration during the design process. The goals and credit assignments are led by a LEED practitioner. Next, the project is registered with the USGBC. The LEED credit progress is then monitored through construction and beginning occupancy. Typically, the LEED documentation is ready to submit 1 to 2 months after initial occupancy. Once submitted, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) review takes another 2 to 3 months. For a 1 and a half year design-build project, a LEED certification could take about 2 years.
For more information on LEED planning, contact SEA’s LEED gro ...Read the rest of entry »
IECC 2012 and Commissioning
The latest version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) brings in changes that will lead to more energy savings.
One of the major updates in IECC 2012 for commercial projects is the requirement of commissioning. Until recently, commissioning
has been fairly ad-hoc and considered an “add-on” service. However, due to projects pursuing the United States Green Building
Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, commissioning has become more mainstream
and provided value to clients.
Building commissioning is a process that helps verify and document that the selected building systems have been designed,
installed, and function according to the owner’s project requirements, the construction documents, and code requirements. By
aiding the owner through the design and construction process, commissioning providers can help ensure that the owner is delivered
a project ...Read the rest of entry »
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Demand (LEED) is a constantly evolving framework; always improving to reflect current technologies. Since LEED’s inception in 1998, there have been 3 versions released, as well as the addition of LEED for Homes, LEED for Schools, and LEED for Existing Buildings. The next version of LEED [LEED 2012 or Version 4] is launching Fall 2012. To accurately assess the state of sustainability and the needs for its growth and utility, three comment periods have been opened to allow the public to address any substantive changes proposed. The third period begins today, March 1, 2012 and runs through March 20, 2012.
Before finalized, LEED 2012 also has to be balloted and approved by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) members. The ballot will be held from June 1-30, 2012. To vote in the LEED 2012 ballot, one must opt into the “Consensus Body”. The Consensus Body opt-in period begins April 2, 2012 and is open to employees of USGBC national member organizations in “good standing”. ...Read the rest of entry »
Energy Star has announced a new program focusing on multifamily residential high-rise buildings. According to the program website, this new designation for multifamily high-rises (dubbed “MFHR”) is intended for “new or substantially renovated” buildings. Energy Star aims to incorporate energy efficient design elements such as high-performance insulation and windows, efficient HVAC equipment, and Energy Star rated appliances into these new residential spaces. These elements not only minimize the building’s energy consumption, they also create a comfortable (and less costly) environment for tenants. The EPA highlights the ability of high-efficiency design and properly-installed systems and insulation to ensure temperatures and indoor air quality stay optimal despite temperature and weather shifts. Especially in a climate with significant seasonal changes like, say, autumn in Chicago, an energy efficient high-rise is designed to keep energy usage and costs to a minimum while keeping its tenants warm in the winte ...Read the rest of entry »
The USGBC Illinois Chapter is hosting a Commissioning Panel Discussion on Thursday, April 7th and SEA will be well represented. Mike Kuk, SEA’s Director of Technical Services and Commissioning, is one of four panelists speaking at the event. The firm is also sponsoring the event, and additional staff members (myself and Bart Lazarczyk) will be there for the discussion and to answer questions and meet attendees at the SEA table.
The event promises to be an interesting and informative discussion of the value of Commissioning, Retro-Commissioning, and how the process is integrated into LEED. For more event info, visit the USGBC website.
Read the rest of entry »
The USGBC is hard at work on its latest Building Design and Construction LEED Rating System, simply referred to as LEED 2012. Among the sea of changes that have been proposed, I will briefly discuss the vastly expanded scope of commissioning services under both Fundamental and Enhanced commissioning.
Under the previous LEED guidelines, commissioning services typically focused on heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment, as well as the building automation systems that drive the sequence of operations for HVAC systems and lighting controls. LEED 2012 proposes that the process go beyond HVAC to include the following under the Fundamental Commissioning guidelines:
Building envelope, which includes roofing assemblies and systems; and thermal, air, and vapor transmission properties of walls, roofs, windows and doors
Any monitoring and measuring devices for potable or reclaimed water entering the buildingAutomatic sensing devices in plumbing
Cooling tower chemica ...Read the rest of entry »
Researchers at Michigan State University have found another reason for commercial buildings to go green: Employees reported being sick less often and feeling less stress and depression after their companies moved from non-LEED Certified buildings to LEED Certified buildings. They also reported higher levels of productivity. “Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity,” recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, highlighted two case studies which yielded positive results for green building. So is there a connection between sustainable construction and occupant health? Research seems to indicate a very strong one.
In 1984—nearly a decade before the first LEED rating system was even in development—a report by the World Health Organization detailed that occupants in roughly 30% of buildings, both new construction and renovation, reported experiencing poor indoor air quality. And this accounted only for those who issued complaints. Researchers identified this as not jus ...Read the rest of entry »
In a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Chicago, IL, home to the headquarters of Sieben Energy Associates, landed a spot on the organization’s list of leading “Energy-Smart” Cities. Chicago was applauded for its city-wide sustainability efforts, most notably those in buildings.
The report specifically emphasized Chicago’s strides in energy efficiency: “One of Chicago’s top priorities is making its buildings, already known for their architectural history, known for their energy efficiency.” Other notable achievements include a building code that rewards efficiency projects and sustainable building practices, the installation of heat pumps to create a more diversified power grid, and the city’s exceptional green roof efforts. Chicago also leads the U.S. in LEED Certified buildings.
Sieben Energy Associates has been at the forefront of energy efficiency and green building in Chicago for twenty years, and we know that there is always energy to be saved. Chicago’s buildings a ...Read the rest of entry »
Data centers—the modern digital warehouses—use massive amounts of energy to both power and cool servers. As hardware costs continue to fall and energy costs continue to rise, it seems only natural that data center operators are focusing their attention on becoming more energy efficient to reduce operating expenses.
The EPA recently expanded its Energy Star rating system to include a scale specifically for data centers. NetApp’s RTP center is the first to achieve the certification. The North Carolina facility earned 99 out of a possible 100 points (only 75 are required for the Energy Star rating), aided in part by a unique overhead distribution cooling system and cooling with outside air during two-thirds of the year. These efficient approaches to cooling help the data center reduce energy costs substantially and cut carbon emissions by 95,000 tons per year.
For more information on Energy Star validation for data centers, visit the EPA’s dedicated website: Energy ...Read the rest of entry »
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change held an energy efficiency conference in Chicago on April 6 and 7. This year it was entitled From Shop Floor to Top Floor: Best Business Practices in Energy Efficiency and coincided with their release of a report on the best practices in corporate energy efficency.
Interesting keynote and luncheon speakers ranging from Suzanne Malec-McKenna, the City of Chicago’s Commissioner of its Department of Environment to John Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, to former Senator John Warner, helped set the context for the conference—that the world is changing, and that fossil fuel-generated carbon emissions will surely become an economic factor within our society—with an associated cost borne by consumers.
Sustainability and environmental representatives of household name companies such as Toyota, IBM, Best Buy, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, Coca Cola and the Mars Candy described their companies’ efforts to establish and attain sustainab ...Read the rest of entry »
The built environment is responsible for approximately two-thirds of carbon emissions from energy use in cities around the world. Implementing energy efficient solutions in buildings from the past is equivalent to tapping into a new reserve of energy resources.
Buildings of the future should be designed to harness the resource of efficiency before they are on the ground. The Pearl River is an example of such a project.
Located in Guangzhou, China, the Pearl River is “one of the most energy-efficient skyscrapers in the world." From the Chicago-based architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), this 2.3-million-square-foot building is uniquely designed with sustainability attributes to take advantage of wind and solar energy. Energy-efficient technologies include integrated turbines, solar panels, double skin curtain wall, daylight harvesting and more.
The building is slated for completion by the end of 2010.
Read more about Pearl River at the SOM website.Read the rest of entry »
The energy (reduction) potential in America’s building stock is a tremendous resource, equivalent to tapping a second Saudi Arabia. The energy appetite of America’s buildings is enormous, but we can begin to cut back on the excess without sacrificing comfort or performance.
Craig Sieben spoke to this theme last week before the Realty Club of Chicago in a speech entitled “America’s Building Stock – The Second Saudi Arabia.” Craig referenced the excellent work of Art Rosenfeld, an award-winning scientist, one of the earliest promoters of energy efficiency in the U.S.—and one of Craig’s personal mentors.
In his speech, Craig emphasized smart and simple examples of what building owners and managers can do to cut back on their energy consumption. Reducing the energy appetite of our buildings is one small step towards a goal of U.S. energy independence. How can this be? Let’s do the math.
In 2008, the U.S. imported 1.5 million barrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia. We consumed about 19.5 million barrels per d ...Read the rest of entry »