LEED Building and Energy Series: Energy and Atmosphere Prerequisites

This is the second post on Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Building and Energy Efficiency Series providing solutions for climate change. Often renewable energy lies at the forefront of climate change solutions, neglecting nuclear, ccs technology, and energy efficiency. The cheapest solution out of all global warming solutions is to increase energy efficiency, especially in buildings. This post will begin an introduction into the LEED category: Energy and Atmosphere by describing the prerequisites. All three prerequisites must be met before any points can be awarded in this category. Remember, the higher the rating of a building the more energy efficient and the lower its carbon emissions impact on the environment.

Energy and Atmosphere (EA) prerequisite 1: fundamental commissioning of the building energy system. This prerequisite can be jargon heavy, but in a nutshell it describes the process by which a building’s energy system is certified (commissioned) to do as it was built to do. If it is a commercial building, the energy system must perform as a commercial building given the building codes (laws). The systems to be commissioned are the Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVAC-R) systems, lighting and daylighting controls, domestic hot water systems, and renewable energy systems (Kibert, 2009).

EA prerequisite 2: minimum energy performance. The building must meet its minimum energy performance. If the building was commissioned to suit 500 occupants, its energy system must deliver the necessary amount of ventilation, lighting, hot water, and electricity for these occupants to do work in a safe & efficient manner. For additional information it is recommended to see the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standards 09.1-2007.

EA prerequisite 3: fundamental refrigerant management. New buildings must not use CFCs; and re-constructed buildings must phase them out. CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are famously responsible for the hole in the ozone layer. These chemicals were long used in compressed aerosol cans and air-conditioning equipment. The use of electricity, which is a high quality form of energy, converted into heat or cooling is an inefficient use of a valuable resource. Ideally district heating and cooling would power the HVAC-R systems because by connecting many buildings to a central heating/cooling plant waste energy (a form of lower quality energy) is used instead of electricity.

The prerequisites are simple enough, yet very important. If a single prerequisite is not met, then the LEED rating of a building disqualifies itself from 34 total possible points in the Energy and Atmosphere category. Remember, there are a total of 110 points for the entire LEED rating system. In the next post in the LEED Building and Energy Efficiency Series we’ll consider the different versions of LEED-rating (there have been three versions and what may be considered LEED-GOLD two years ago, wouldn’t be considered so today). Following that will be case studies of LEED buildings in India, China, the USA as presented as climate change solutions.

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