ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 13 - 07/23/2009

USGBC Adds Building Performance Component to LEED Certification Process

As part of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED v3, buildings seeking LEED certification will need to submit operational 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 modeling 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're convinced that ongoing monitoring and reporting of data is the single best way to drive higher building performance because it will bring to light external issues such as occupant behavior or unanticipated building usage patterns, all key factors that influence performance."


USGBC will be able to use the performance information collected to inform future versions of LEED.



"Building performance will guide LEED's evolution. This data will show us what strategies work -- and which don't -- 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," added Horst. "Similar to the sticker on a new car that says the car will get 30 miles to the gallon -- the car is calibrated to perform but it's also reliant on the driver's habits."


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


   1. The building is recertified on a two-year cycle using LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance.
   2. The building provides energy and water usage data on an on-going basis annually.
   3. The building owner signs a release that authorizes USGBC to access the building's energy and water usage data directly from the building's utility provider.


The requirement creates a data stream on LEED-certified building performance that can be used by owners and operators to optimize 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," Owens said. "However, we know that there are building types that may have a central plant, a military base or a university campus, for instance, where it would be cost prohibitive to install meters on every single building." In this circumstance, the MPR 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 recognize one piece of a building's lifecycle, but it's 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," Horst added.




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