4  FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency

1. How Should Embodied Energy Factor Into Product Selection?

Today's tip involves weighing a building product's embodied energy as a criterion in a life-cycle assessment.

For facility managers interested in reducing the environmental impact of their buildings, life-cycle assessments for all building products that are installed in a building are increasingly important. This means looking at every phase of a product — from how it is manufactured, to its useful life in the facility, to what happens to the product when its useful life is over.

Embodied energy is a key tenet of this life-cycle assessment, and is more frequently being included on manufacturers environmental product declarations, or EPDs. Embodied energy is the energy required from a product's raw material extraction, through its manufacturing process, to its delivery and installation in a building. Facility managers who pick products with low embodied energy are making a statement that they're concerned not just about how the product performs in their building, but also the manufacturer's performance in making the product. Often times, building products with lower embodied energies are also less expensive, because the manufacturer's energy waste isn't being tacked on to the price of the product.

An important caveat, however, is that facility managers must examine all aspects of a product's life cycle and weigh the different performance criteria against each other. It'd be hard to argue that a product with a low embodied energy that only lasts for five years and must be replaced is more environmentally responsible than one with a bit higher embodied energy that lasts for 50.

LEED-EBOM 2012 To Focus on Performance

Today's tip of the day is about some of the major changes to look forward to when LEED EBOM is released in its newest version this fall. All of the LEED rating systems are getting overhauls, but it's the Operations and Maintenance rating system that has some of the biggest changes.

Most importantly, each LEED-EBOM credit and prerequisite is being rewritten to include two parts, an Establishment part and a Performance part. Facility managers will have to comply with both parts in order to earn the points for the credit.

The establishment portion of each credit is, as the U.S. Green Building Council explains, "static and foundational." It "establishes" the foundation for ongoing performance in the building, including strategies like installing meters and developing policies and procedures. As an example, in the draft version of LEED-EBOM, the Establishment portion of the Water Efficiency Credit for "additional landscape water use" requires users to calculate the baseline of current landscape water use and install a submeter to measure it.

The Performance portion of each credit, as its name implies, ensures that the Establishment portion of the credit is carried out in the real world. The Performance part of a credit is "dynamic and recurring," and includes strategies such as surveys, audits, and ongoing tracking. As an example, for the water efficiency credit mentioned early, to comply with the Performance part of the credit, facility managers must calculate the metered water use, and then are awarded 1 point if that use is 30 percent below a baseline of the average of the last three years, and 2 points if use is 40 percent below that baseline.

One of the goals of the dual-part credits in LEED-EBOM is to help reduce redundancy in the recertification process. Facility managers can more easily track each performance requirement and only submit that information for recertification, as opposed to have to start essentially from scratch to recertify.


Energy Efficiency , Embodied Energy , Green Products

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