U.S. Green Building Council Announces Changes to LEED 2012


“LEED pushes the envelope to bring transformation to the market – that’s what we do,” said Scot Horst, Senior Vice President, LEED. “We remain committed to that, and to making sure that what we deliver is complete and can be successfully implemented.”

In addition to the ballot date change, other actions include:

  • Keeping LEED 2009 open for registration for three years
  • Continuing to ask for the market’s assistance in “test driving” LEED v4 to gain important insight during a time when improvements in usability infrastructure can be made
  • Committing to a fifth public comment that will open on Oct. 2, 2012, and run through Dec. 10, 2012 to take advantage of Greenbuild where USGBC will hold public forums and educational sessions on site in San Francisco. This will help stakeholders better understand requirements as well as any final changes that may appear in the new draft. Greenbuild will also serve as a platform to debut new forms, submittal documents and LEED Online enhancements that will help improve and enhance the user experience

Said USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi,  “This is 100% in response to our members’ desire that we give them a bit more time to absorb the changes in this next version of the rating system.  We want to do everything we can to ensure that the market can fully embrace LEED v4 because it represents significant progress on carbon reduction and human health. Greenbuild will provide us the perfect venue to experience the look and feel of the new system as an integrated package. Then we can take the first part of 2013 to make sure the consensus body has everything it needs for a successful ballot.”

For more information please visit usgbc.org/LEEDv4.

California to require ‘solar ready roofs’ on new commercial buildings

CA Energy CommissionAccording to the San Jose Mercury News, the California Energy Commission has approved new energy efficiency standards for new residential and commercial buildings. The new standards, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, will require new commercial buildings to have solar-ready roofs, as well as so-called high-performance windows and lights controlled by sensors.

The new standards were backed by environmentalists, major utilities and the California Building Industry Association.

DOE Announces First Product to Meet the Commercial Rooftop Air Conditioner Challenge

Department of EnergyAs part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to help American families and businesses save money on their energy bills, the U.S. Department of Energy today announced that Daikin McQuay’s Rebel rooftop unit system is the first to meet DOE’s Rooftop Unit (RTU) Challenge. Five manufacturers—Daikin McQuay, Carrier, Lennox, 7AC Technologies, and Rheem—are participating in this challenge to commercialize highly efficient commercial air conditioners that satisfy a DOE-issued specification for energy savings and performance. The companies have until April 1, 2013 to submit a product for independent evaluation according to the specification. When built to meet the specification, these units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50% over current standards. Nationwide, if all 10 to 20 ton RTUs met the specification, businesses would save over $1 billion each year in energy costs, helping American companies better compete on a global scale.

Manufacturers nationwide have a strong motivation to produce highly energy-efficient air conditioning units for commercial buildings. Members in DOE’s Commercial Buildings Energy Alliances (CBEA), such as Target, Walmart, and other participating commercial building owners have expressed an interest in equipment that meets the new energy efficiency specification at an affordable price. The Department of Energy is evaluating potential demonstration sites for high performing products that meet the RTU Challenge. In addition, the Department is also developing analytical tools that enable businesses to more accurately estimate the energy and cost savings of using high performance RTUs in their facilities.

The RTU Challenge, aimed at spurring the market introduction of cost-effective, high-performance commercial rooftop unit air conditioners, was announced in January 2011. The specification that underpins the RTU Challenge was developed by DOE technical experts and informed by industry partners.

The final participant list was announced by Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, at the Energy Department’s first CBEA Efficiency Forum, a public stakeholder engagement event hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. In addition to today’s announcements, the forum also featured a series of information exchanges on other energy efficiency initiatives that are underway. A full meeting report will be available on the CBEA Web page in the coming weeks. CBEA is comprised of building owners, managers, and operators that collaborate with the Energy Department and with each other to develop and deploy best practices, key decision-making tools, and advanced technologies for significant energy savings.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the CBEA, Efficiency Forum, and RTU Challenge.

MD Governor Signs Landmark Geothermal Heat Pump Bill

Flag of MarylandMaryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) has signed the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Geothermal Heating and Cooling bill (SB 652) into law, making Maryland the first state in the nation to allow utilities to claim credits for the installation of geothermal heat pumps. The measure passed the state legislature on April 13.

The legislation makes GHPs an accepted technology for utilities to use toward earning Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Geothermal heat pumps address one of the biggest consumers of U.S. energy – buildings. Buildings account for more than 70 percent of the nation’s electricity usage, and geothermal heat pumps have the potential to reduce energy use by as much as 40-70 percent in a typical building.

The Maryland RPS stipulates that electricity suppliers (utilities and competitive retail suppliers) use renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and biomass to generate a minimum portion of their retail sales, in annual percentage increments to a level of 20% by 2022.

Electricity suppliers demonstrate compliance with the RPS by accumulating RECs that are issued by the state for the renewable power they provide to their ratepayers. With the new law, GHPs offer yet another option for utilities to meet their renewable energy purchase requirements and earn RECs under the state’s RPS mandate.

Maryland and regional government and industry stakeholders are now forming the Mid-Atlantic Geothermal Industry Consortium (MAGIC) to educate surrounding states about the value of GHPs a compliance measure for their renewable energy purchase requirements.

GSA releases green building certification systems review

GSAThe General Services Administration (GSA) recently released its review of the Green Building Certification Systems.  Three certification systems passed GSA screening criteria: Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the International Living Building Challenge.

Five years ago, only LEED passed the screening process.  In its most recent review, GSA determined Green Globes best advanced federal policies in new buildings and recommended LEED for existing buildings.  Out of more than 180 green building certification systems, GSA narrowed its consideration to whole building systems with a third party verification process.

The Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (Center) has been an outspoken advocate of the federal government’s use of science and consensus-based green building certification systems.  In November 2011, the Center filed comments with GSA recommending the agency approve Green Globes based on the certification system’s “more economical approach to building certification and the implementation of a true accredited national standard using the ANSI process.”

On Wednesday, May 9th, the Center’s president Craig Silvertooth delivered testimony at a GSA sponsored meeting on the Green Building Certification Systems review in which he highlighted the potential opportunity and challenges involved in the GSA review process.

GSA oversees the leasing and construction of over 9,600 buildings in the federal building portfolio.  The agency is required under the Energy Independence and Security Act to evaluate green building certification systems every five years to ensure the federal government is using the most appropriate programs to promote its own initiatives.  A copy of the review is available on the GSA website.

Final Phase of Building Envelope Research Starts at ORNL

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has begun the final phase of a three-year Dynamic Building Envelope Research project. The program, which began in 2009, is aimed at evaluating the future needs of advanced metal roof and wall assemblies. In the final phase of the project, the synergies between various components of metal roof assemblies will be evaluated for their ability to improve energy efficiency. Components in the roof assemblies include insulation, radiant barriers, phase change materials, and above sheathing ventilation. In addition, the current research phase that has begun evaluates the interaction of cool metal roofing and Si crystalline photovoltaic modules in both steep slope and low slope orientations.

Full size roof mock ups are installed on the Envelope Systems Research Apparatus (ESRA) and the Roof Thermal Research Apparatus (RTRA) in the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN. The multi-year research project is supported by the Glenview, IL-based MCA, which is the largest North American trade association representing metal building component manufacturers and material suppliers.

“This phase of the research will help us understand more impacts from the interaction between the various components of a roof assembly,” said Scott Kriner, MCA’s technical director. “Many of the experiments are designed to demonstrate how certain components can store heat or dissipate heat beneath the roof surface and minimize heat gain into the building space below the roof. Results from this final phase will allow us to optimize the design of a metal roof assembly to provide the most energy efficiency in a given climate.”

Kaushik Biswas, Ph.D., research and development associate at ORNL said, “Apart from demonstrating the reduction in through-the-roof heat gain/loss compared to commonly used shingle roofs, the data generated from these experimental roofs are invaluable from a modeling perspective. Validated simulation models can estimate the actual energy savings from each technology component for different climate zones and provide recommendations for optimum roof design.”

One of the missions of the ORNL Buildings Technology Research Center is to work with private industry to accelerate market penetration of the most promising energy efficient opaque building roof and wall technologies. MCA, ORNL, and several suppliers collaborated to install the experimental attic roofs on the ORNL campus. Aside from MCA member participation, other suppliers of materials included CertainTeed, a manufacturer of thermal insulation and building envelope materials, and Phase Change Energy Solutions, a manufacturer of bio-based phase change materials (PCMs).

DOE Updates High-Efficiency Parking Structure Lighting Specification

Dept. of EnergyA CBEA Project Team has updated the High-Efficiency Parking Structure Lighting Specification. First released in 2009, version 1.1, released on February 15, 2012, has updates related to IES TM-21 and anticipated RP-20 requirements. In addition to focusing on the efficiency of each of these technologies, the Project Team investigated how the role of controls and the specific use of each technology can lead to even greater energy savings. The maximum allowed installed power density within the specification is 40% below ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2007. Additional energy savings are possible from the use of lighting controls and daylighting.

Questions on this specification should be sent to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) at CBEA@pnnl.gov.

DOE guide can help you save energy

Department of EnergyThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the third installment in a series of four 50% Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDGs). This latest guide will help architects, engineers, and contractors design and build highly efficient retail buildings, helping to save energy and cut store operational costs. The 50% AEDG series provides a practical approach for designers and builders of retail stores, and other major commercial building types, to achieve 50% energy savings compared to the building energy code used in many parts of the nation. These commercial building guides support President Obama’s goal to reduce energy use in commercial buildings 20% by 2020. The Advanced Energy Design Guide for 50% energy savings in retail buildings is now available for download.

Beyond helping builders achieve efficiency exceeding the current energy code, the AEDGs also provide climate-specific recommendations to incorporate today’s off-the-shelf energy efficient building products. These recommendations help designers and builders choose advanced building assemblies, highly efficient heating and cooling systems, and incorporate other energy-saving measures such as daylighting and associated control systems. Additionally, efficiency measures found in the guides can be used in the development of future commercial building energy codes.

The 50% Advanced Energy Design Guide series is being developed through a partnership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Institute of Architects (AIA), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). The Retail Buildings guide is the third installment in the 50% series, and follows the guides for small and medium office buildings and K-12 schools released in 2011. The final 50% savings guide for major commercial building types—large hospitals—is also in progress.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about EERE’s support of building technologies. Additional information on DOE’s efforts to support the development and adoption of building energy codes can be found on the Energy Codes website.

Report describes how to increase energy efficiency with new metering technology

A new interagency report recommends new metering technologies that can yield up-to-date, finely grained snapshots of energy and water usage in commercial and residential buildings to guide efficiency improvements and capture the advantages of a modernized electric power grid.

While the return on investment (ROI) for these monitoring and measurement technologies—or submeters—depends on specific energy-efficiency strategies that may vary by climate, building type, and other factors, “numerous case studies provide evidence that the ROI can be significant,” concludes the report, Submetering of Building Energy and Water Usage: Analysis and Recommendations of the Subcommittee on Buildings Technology Research and Development. “Further, submetering provides the necessary infrastructure for more advanced conservation and efficiency techniques.”

The report is a product of the Buildings Technology Research and Development Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a cabinet-level council that is the principal means within the executive branch to coordinate science and technology policy across the diverse entities that make up the federal research and development enterprise. The subcommittee is currently co-chaired by Roland Risser, manager of the Buildings Technologies Program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and William Grosshandler, deputy director of the Engineering Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The report notes that devices to monitor and measure resource use can be deployed at successively finer levels of resolution, from individual buildings and rooms in a complex down to specific building systems or water and electrical outlets. As compared with one-time, large-scale audits of energy or water use, submetering provides specific, real-time information that can be used to pinpoint variations in performance, optimize automated building systems, and encourage building managers and occupants to adopt energy-conserving behaviors. Each of these potential outcomes can dramatically improve building performance and lead to reduced resource consumption.

Commercial and residential buildings consume vast amounts of energy, water, and material resources. In fact, U.S. buildings account for more than 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, including 72 percent of electricity use. If current trends continue, buildings worldwide will be the largest consumer of global energy by 2025. By 2050, buildings are likely to use as much energy as the transportation and industrial sectors combined.

Formally, submetering is the installation of metering devices to measure actual energy or water consumption at points beyond the primary utility meter on a campus or building. Submetering allows building owners to monitor energy or water usage for individual tenants, departments, pieces of equipment or other loads to account for their specific usage. Submetering technologies enable building owners to optimize design and retrofit strategies to energy and water management procedures more efficient and effective.

“Submetering is essential to getting the best performance out of buildings—both new and old,” said DOE’s Risser. “By providing designers, building managers and occupants with more information about their energy use, submetering helps improve building efficiency, which reduces energy waste and saves money for families and businesses,”

The NSTC report provides an overview of the key elements of submetering and associated energy management systems to foster understanding of associated benefits and complexities. It documents the current state of submetering and provides relevant case studies and preliminary findings relating to submetering system costs and ROI. The report also addresses gaps, challenges and barriers to widespread acceptance along with descriptive candidate areas where additional development or progress is required. It also surveys policy options for changing current buildings-sector practices.

The report responds to provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005, Public Law No. 109-58) and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EIS Act 2007, Public Law No. 110-140) to enhance federal R&D that could enable more efficient and higher performance of residential and commercial buildings. The report also will assist federal building owners in meeting energy and water conservation and reporting requirements set forth in Presidential Executive Order 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.”

DOE Consortium Publishes LED Roadway Lighting Guidelines

Department of EnergyThe U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium recently published guidelines for converting to LED roadway lighting. The Model Specification for LED Roadway Luminaires is for cities, utilities, and other local agencies interested in saving money and energy by switching from traditional lighting technologies to solid-state lighting (SSL), which uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of filaments or gases.

Ranking among the biggest fixed costs for cities, streetlights are on all night long, 365 days a year. The estimated 35 million streetlights in the U.S. consume as much electricity each year as 3.9 million households, and generate greenhouse gas emissions equal to that produced by 8 million cars.

“Converting our nation’s streetlights to LED technology could make a substantial dent in our energy consumption while also improving quality of illumination – but only if the right choices are made,” said Consortium Director Edward Smalley of Seattle City Light. “The new specification will help cities, utilities, and others make better choices.”

The model specification is designed specifically for LED lighting products, which have the added benefit of reducing maintenance costs while improving visibility and customer service. The flexible format allows guideline users to modify default values to fit their local design criteria – which can vary from city to city, and even from application to application within a given city.

Consortium members and nonmembers will be able to use the new specification to put together effective bid documents for LED street lighting products. It also will help guide the industry and provide a common basis for manufacturers to design products that meet their customers’ needs.

DOE created the Consortium last year to inform and harmonize the efforts of the many cities that are pursuing evaluations of LED street lighting products, often spurred on by block grants and energy mandates. The model specification was developed by Consortium members, with feedback from a manufacturers’ working group that included Acuity Brands, BetaLED/Ruud Lighting, Cooper, GE Lighting Solutions, Hubbell, LED Roadway Lighting, Leotek, Lighting Science Group, OSRAM Sylvania, Philips Roadway Lighting, and Philips Lumileds. Their input helps ensure that RFPs based on the specification will result in submissions from multiple manufacturers.

The specification is available with two different user-selectable options to accommodate the different preferences commonly found between municipalities and utilities. The System Specification option is designed to maximize application efficiency, and characterizes luminaire performance by incorporating site characteristics such as mounting height, pole spacing, and number of lanes. The Material Specification option emphasizes luminaire efficiency, which characterizes luminaire performance without consideration of site characteristics.

A “living document” that will be adapted as needed, the model specification will be followed by a supplemental design guide at a later date, and is expected to have a wide national impact for end users looking for best practices in specifying LED streetlights.

To learn more about the Consortium, visit the consortium website.