Electrical Design Principles to Achieve LEED Certification
The U.S. has seen a rise in sustainable building in the last decade. The “going green” trend can be attributed largely to higher standard building regulations and customers asking for more sustainable structures.
Rating systems for sustainable building, such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, have become extremely popular as they offer a complete, single, voluntary system that allows architects and building owners a way to measure the success of the application of sustainable design into a building project.
LEED certification works by gauging a number of green standards that points are assigned to. Along with several required pre-requisites, there are 69 points you can reach to achieve LEED certification. Projects receive a grade based on how many points they hit. Structure grading is as follows: Certified (26 points), Silver (33 points), Gold (39 points), or platinum (52 points).
So how does electrical design and service play into the LEED certification process?
The electrical designer on a building project looking for LEED certification is responsible for two of the prerequisites alluded to above, and up to 28 of the 69 total points. Specifically, the electrical designer is accountable for major areas of the evaluation, including lighting, energy systems efficiency, and energy consumption. City Electric Supply can help electrical designers achieve LEED certification with highly efficient lighting and electrical solutions. Below are some factors that are looked at from an electrical standpoint for LEED certification.
When it comes to lighting, utilizing green lighting technologies is the main objective for those in the electrical service. Natural daylight is the most efficient way to save energy and minimize costs. Sunlight is not only free, but it also has a variety of proven wellness benefits that artificial light can’t match. Many new structures are being designed to utilize as much natural light as possible. Using this method combined with auto-dimming sensory lights contribute to a principle of green building known as daylighting design. Brought to you by Lutron, CES carries daylight-saving sensors that are perfect for any room or building.
LED lighting has by far been the most popular sustainable lighting technique used by electrical and lighting designers. LED bulbs are small, compact, and are lit by the movement of electrons. Lasting more than 100 times longer than incandescent bulbs, LED lights are also much more durable since there is no filament or tube to break. LED bulbs require minimal power levels and produce less heat than standard light bulbs. Fusion Lamps has some of the most efficient LED lamps and tubes out there, so whatever your energy-saving benchmark, Fusion can help with that.
According to www.energy.gov, LED lights use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. It was also reported that by 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.
Making sure the energy systems of the building run efficiently in tandem with the electrical system is another important aspect of meeting design performance levels. For energy systems, solar panels are becoming a popular choice. Though they are not very subtle and, at times, pricey to install, the payback for the customer is essentially energy at no cost. This fact alone has steered many new commercial and residential buildings to install and utilize solar panels or even solar farms.
Many businesses can benefit from significant rebates offered through their local energy providers. Check with your organization or local City Electric Supply to learn more about green rebate opportunities.
In order to achieve LEED certification, the building must meet the baseline for energy consumption of the electrical equipment in the building. This ranges from improving VFD controllers for motors to utilizing special controls for HVAC and lighting systems, such as occupancy sensors and timers.
HVAC utilizes a lot of energy and keeping it to a minimum is key to saving customers money and keeping the unit in good shape. An important tool to consider when trying to keep energy consumption low is programmable or smart thermostats. These types of thermostats allow the occupants of the building to regulate and maintain the temperature inside. Just set the days, times, and temperatures, and the thermostat does the rest. When programmed and calibrated for the space, these thermostats can lower energy consumption and minimize temperature swings by cutting on or off closer to the set temperature than manual thermostats.
In a study done by Nest, they found a 10-12 percent savings on heating and 15 percent savings on cooling with Nest thermostats. This amounts to about $131 to $145 in savings a year. Based on these results, a smart thermostat that runs about $250 would pay for itself in under two years.
In addition to other areas of the certification assessment, such as materials, resources, and waste, the electrical side of things clearly plays a significant role in the structure becoming LEED certified. Working with someone that understands the details of LEED from an electrical perspective can make the difference from certified to platinum.