4 tips on LEED
1. LEED: Ensuring Long-Term Performance
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, LEED and long-term performance.
When maintenance and engineering managers are involved in designing, constructing, and operating a new facility, there is a great deal to learn along the way. But when the facility is pursuing never-before-seen green building goals, managers can expect a much steeper learning curve. Perhaps nobody understands that better than Jeff Schorzman, facilities manager with Providence Newberg (Ore.) Medical Center.
In a way, Schorzman went back to school as he helped the 183,000-square-foot facility become the first hospital to earn Gold certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. But Schorzman's education did not end when the hospital came online in June 2006. Instead, he has kept learning about the building and its state-of-the-art technology.
Despite the advanced technologies Schorzman and his team specified for the new facility, the medical center did not perform as designers intended during its first year of operation. One reason the facility struggled initially was that the project team tried to meet tight deadlines without sufficient vetting of the systems.
"I know you get bumped up against schedules, but folks really need to incorporate into their schedules time to wash the systems out," he says. "We did commission the building, but we were pushed, and we were rushed. You really need to give yourself time to work through the issues and drive the boat."
Another cause of inefficient operation related to oversized equipment.
"Our steam system in the building was sized for humidification for the whole building 24/7, and our sterilization of surgical instrumentation 24/7/365," he says. "The majority of our surgeries are done Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The only areas that require humidification are the surgery areas, so (the system was) oversized."
Schorzman and his staff went through trial and error during the first year of operation, but now, systems are performing as the project team intended. Power use is down 12 percent, compared to the first year, and gas use is down about 30 percent, Schorzman says. Technicians are constantly making tweaks and improvements, but five years after becoming the first LEED Gold hospital, he can look back at this learning experience as a positive one.
2. What is the STARS Rating System?
Today's tip is about a green rating system developed by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education called STARS — an acronym for Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System.
STARS is a way for colleges and universities to track and measure their sustainability performances. The self-reporting tool is available to any college or university in the United States or Canada. The system provides environmental, social and economic indicators in three categories related to campus activities. Those are: Education and Research; Operations; and Planning, Administration, and Engagement. Each of these categories includes subcategories such as Purchasing, Curriculum, Energy, and Human Resources. There is also an Innovation category to recognize pioneering practices that aren't covered by other STARS credits. Similar to LEED, points in each category are totaled and then a STARS rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. A Reporter rating means the institution wished the score to remain private.
The process to use the system is simple — first register online at stars.aashe.org. Then, identify your institutional boundary and begin collecting data. Submit a STARS report and receive your STARS rating.
Currently, there are 195 institutions participating in STARS, including the University of Dayton, St. Louis University, and the University of Notre Dame. The fee to use STARS is $900 if you're an AASHE member and $1,400 if you're not. Find more information about STARS at stars.aashe.org.
3. Six Steps To LEED-EBOM
Today's tip is about six important steps any facility manager should take when endeavoring upon a LEED for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance (or LEED-EBOM) initiative.
The first step is to know your rating system. Make sure you've spent the requisite time studying and understanding what LEED-EBOM will require in terms of calculations, data management, policy creation, and future recertification.
Secondly, do a gap analysis to determine where your building is now, and what will need to be done to meet the requirements of LEED-EBOM. This means calculating your Energy Star score, as well as taking a hard look at existing policies and procedures - green cleaning, for one.
Third, don't give up before you've even started. What I mean by this, is that if you calculate your Energy Star score, and it's well below the minimum 69 required for any level of certification, it may be tempting to throw up your hands and quit. Don't. Use a stepped approach to energy efficiency over a finite period of time to improve your score, and then look at LEED-EBOM as a whole again.
Fourth, do set timelines and goals. This means being realistic, without overtaxing your staff. Too long a timeline, and EBOM may slip down the priority list, but too short a timeline, and you'll anger your staff by possibly overworking them. Also, set goals for which credits you hope to achieve and at what level. And of course, set a certification goal - certified, silver, gold or platinum.
Fifth, understand you can't go it alone. Get your tenants, occupants, upper managers, and most importantly, your staff, highly involved with your LEED-EBOM initiative. The more involvement, the more buy-in. And the more buy-in, the more support you'll have for any new policies and procedures.
Finally, make sure you have long-term plans. Understand that, unlike LEED for New Construction, LEED-EBOM is NOT a one-time certification. The U.S. Green Building Council requires recertification at least every five years. Most experts suggest planning for your recertification as soon as you receive the certification plaque. That way, you always have a goal — a way to keep your eye on the prize.
4. Green Schools Linked To Better Student Health, Performance
Today's tip is about a white paper by the U.S. Green Building Council and McGraw Hill Research Foundation that summarizes existing research on green schools and calls for further research on the link between green building strategies and student and teacher performance within those schools.
The white paper, titled "The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance: A Call for Research" cites "clear evidence" that certain aspects of school buildings have an impact on student health and learning." That evidence includes at least four main points.
First, when deprived of natural light, studies have shown that children's melatonin cycles are disrupted, thus likely having an impact on their alertness during school.
Secondly, teachers report higher levels of comfort in their classrooms when they have access to thermal controls like thermostats or operable windows.
Third, according to researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, when ventilation rates are at or below minimum standards (roughly 15 cfm per student), an associated decrease of 5 to 10 percent occurs in certain aspects of student performance tests.
And finally, in recent studies, when ventilation rates were lowered from 17 cfm/person to 10 cfm/person, researchers saw a 15 percent increase in symptom prevalence for Sick Building Syndrome. You can read the full white paper at the USGBC's website, www.usgbc.org.
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