LEED Gold- How did we do it? Part 4 of 9

Part 4: Energy Performance and Commissioning

“The process of extracting and consuming energy from fossil fuels causes many environmental impacts, including air and water pollution, land degradation, solid waste generation, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Data from the US Energy Information Administration show that buildings are responsible for almost half (48%) of all energy consumed and greenhouse gases emitted annually. The EPA estimates that if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings improved by 10%, the resulting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking about 30 million vehicles off the road.”

“The intent of commissioning is “(to) verify that the project’s energy-related systems are installed, calibrated and perform according to the owner’s project requirements, basis of design and construction documents. Benefits of commissioning include reduced energy use, lower operating costs, reduced contractor callbacks, better building documentation, improved occupant productivity and verification that the the systems perform in accordance with the owner’s project requirements.”

-US Green Building Council

As any mechanical engineer will tell you, energy efficiency involves much more than just an efficient mechanical unit. As a result of carefully addressing insulation, air infiltration, window performance, energy used by appliances, hot water heating, lighting, and, yes, the mechanical system, we have been able to reduce our lighting power density by 26% and our HVAC energy use by 22%. In addition, all of our energy use is offset by green power credits, which we will explain in Part 5.

Although it isn’t the only system to contribute to energy savings, the mechanical system of any building does play a crucial role. Through the commissioning process, we had an engineer test and balance our mechanical system to ensure that it is functioning as intended.

Not only are there several components to making an energy efficient building, but it is important to ensure that these components are working properly.

Spray foam insulation at the roof level of our office

The view from our high efficiency mechanical unit- not bad!

Next stop: Part 5: Green Power