Creating an energy efficient and clean atmosphere in a building is perhaps the most complex aspect of building green. Reaching optimal energy levels and employing clean and renewable energy systems which in turn reduces ozone depletion and global warming is the overall intent of the energy and atmosphere credits. To achieve points in this category all parties must be on the same page and establish precise energy goals.
In order to be eligible for any points in this section, three prerequisites must be met and they all revolve around planning and management. First, a Commissioning Authority must be assigned to the project to review, plan, and report on the project. It is vital that the owner’s project requirements and the basis of design are followed and commissioned in order to perform and meet expectations. Proper commissioning allows a project to establish minimum energy performance requirements and install adequate refrigerant management systems. Once the prerequisites are set in place you should use your energy baseline and construct optimal energy performance goals for your building.
There are 17 possible points amongst 6 credits in this section. To get points in this section, you must take your baseline building performance rating and increase it by 10.5 percent just to get 1 point, then to earn more points you can add 3.5 percent to the 10.5 percent performance and earn 1 more point per each 3.5 percent increase. You may earn up to 10 points in this section by reaching 42 percent total. (The performance percentages above the baseline will vary depending on the building). Meeting this requirement is essential to greening your building and can drastically cut your energy cost each month. To increase your energy efficiency you should install appropriate HVAC systems, recover your wasted energy, harvest free/renewable/clean energy, and reduce your demand for energy.
Commissioning your building early and thoroughly along with using proper refrigerant management can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your building if you measure and verify your energy use and energy systems over time. It is very important to commit to using renewable energy / green power in your building. Engaging in very available renewable energy sources will not only save you money but will most importantly create a low impact sustainable building and a healthy atmosphere.
Earning points in this category is a must, and working with a third party to meet these low impact requirements can make the task much easier. Consulting is available for energy commissioning and we recommend you use a third party to meet the Energy Star performance standards. More information is provided by the Department of Energy and the USGBC.