4 FM quick reads on LEED
1. Avoiding Pitfalls In LEED Certification For Interiors
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management. Today's tip is to be aware of potential pitfalls when trying to earn LEED certification for an interior space.
A common pitfall in pursuing LEED certification is that the actual awarding of certification comes after move-in. There is always the possibility that all credits will not be approved and a project could fall a point or two short of its target. It's best to plan to have a margin of a couple of extra points just in case. Also, credit appeals can extend the certification period well beyond project completion and contractor close-out, which can make locating requested project information challenging. All LEED submittal data should be obtained early along with shop drawings.
Some other of the most common LEED pitfalls are added costs, both soft and hard, and additional time compared to the traditional design and construction process. For example, a two-week air flush-out needs to be built into the schedule, as well as time for enhanced commissioning. If a planned flush-out becomes impractical because of summer or winter weather, the alternate is air testing, which is not a guaranteed point despite the need to pay test fees.
Slab curing and installation of carpeting with low VOC adhesive may also require additional time. The lesson here is to plan well in advance and schedule the sequencing of the work, such as painting before installing carpet and ceiling tiles to ensure good indoor air quality later, in a thoughtful manner.
Finally, there are risks of product failure. With hundreds of new green building products hitting the market every day, many are not proven. "Roadoyl" was a light paving alternative to asphalt introduced 10 years ago. After five years it deteriorated badly but the manufacturer was no longer in business. When bamboo flooring made its market debut, it was beautiful, cost-effective and sustainable. But all manufactured bamboo flooring is not created equal and softer products are prone to unsightly high-heel marks.
While it's always important to be careful of manufacturers that make unsubstantiated claims, there are trustworthy certifications for sustainable products from third parties such as Green Seal and Greenguard.
2. Plumbing: Going with the (Low) Flow
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, plumbing systems and water conservation.
Low-flow aerators that use 0.5 gallon of water per minute (gpm) have become common components within many institutional and commercial facilities looking to save water. These products are required in most public restrooms these days, and they generally have performed well.
But they can create challenges when used with some new energy-saving equipment. On-demand water heaters and battery-saving hydro-generators installed in many restrooms offer two examples of products that might not pair well with low-flow aerators.
Not all on-demand or instantaneous water heaters activate if a restroom has a low-flow aerator, even if the unit is designed to operate at a flow rate of 0.5 gpm. Because a faucet is a mixing valve, the flow drops to closer to 0.25 gpm. Also, the inlet of the water heater might feature a filter that, if clogged with debris, might cause the flow to drop below 0.5 gpm. This flow rate might not be high enough to allow users to wash their hands. The solution might be to install an aerator with a higher flow rate, perhaps 1 gpm.
But a higher-flow aerator creates its own issues. One issue is related to points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system. A 0.5 gpm aerator uses less water by comparison, so it is a larger contributor to LEED. Also, some hydro-generators might require a minimum 1 gpm aerator to activate, resulting in a similar problem as with the 0.5 gpm aerator.
3. Dual-Flush Valves: Two Ways To Save
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, plumbing fixtures and water savings.
Water conservation has become the standard in new restroom design, whether the larger goal is to comply with local codes, to lower operating costs, to appeal to environmentally conscious customers, or to obtain points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
But before installing these products, managers must perform due diligence on the way systems will interact and determine if particular products are the right fit for their facilities. Otherwise, problems can occur. The manufacturer might not have tested a water-efficient fixture rigorously, or it might be installed in a space for which it was not intended. For these reasons, managers must examine the restroom's design as a whole to ensure fixture performance.
For new buildings, perhaps the most common water-saving restroom strategy is to install dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush technology, which uses either 1.1 gallons per flush (gpf), or 1.6 gpf, has been available for several years, and dual-flush toilets have been a successful option for water-conscious managers. They also are appealing options because they can be retrofit into existing buildings and used on smaller projects where the goal is to save water.
One example of the issues with dual-flush toilets is that the user must pull up on the handle of a flush valve to produce the lower-flow flush. But for most people, the reflex is to push down. This situation introduces a possible user error — namely, how do managers know users are performing the right flush? This issue can make it more difficult to predict water savings.
4. How Should You Use an Energy Model?
Today's tip is about how to develop an energy model to be a useful predictor of how the building will use energy.
A prerequisite for LEED for New Construction certification, energy models amalgamate information about building systems to simulate approximately how much energy the building will use after it is built. Experts suggest that the energy model should be as important to the planning and programming of the building as the architectural drawings themselves.
One of the most important things to keep in mind regarding energy models is that they should be used not to predict exactly how much energy a building will use, but more to evaluate building choices and compare and contrast different strategies.
In regards to that idea of comparison instead of prediction, keep in mind these three points for how an energy model can be used to identify synergies in building systems and keep energy costs down.
1) Reduce equipment size – Modeling various building shapes, sizes and orientations and how they affect building equipment can result in discovering that a smaller HVAC system will do the trick.
2) Find areas of highest impact – Doing comparisons of ''what–ifs'' show the tipping point on the law of diminishing returns for energy decisions, and therefore allow facility managers to make decisions based on strategies with the highest energy impact.
3) Identify building performance relationships that don't make sense – Energy models allow facility managers to discover that the "if some is good, more is always better" rule doesn't always add efficiency to a building.
When preparing an energy model - and there are several different types of software packages out there, some of them like the Department of Energy's eQuest, are available for free. They take into consideration three main sets of variables – weather and climate; energy and utility; and building components.