Tag Archive clean energy

What It Means to Be LEED Certified and How to Do It

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The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification program developed by the US Green Building Council. It is the most recognized and known rating system for sustainable and green buildings. LEED emphasizes a “whole” building approach when it certifies a building. The building must perform better than conventional buildings in several sustainability areas. These areas include site selection, maintenance, water efficiency, energy efficiency, heating and cooling management, material selection, and air quality. Many building owners covet the designation of LEED for their building because of the many benefits that come with it.

Why Become LEED Certified?

Any business or building owner will tell you that profit margin is one of the most important things to measure. LEED certification focuses on this and two other important measures: people and conservation of resources. LEED buildings are healthier for occupants, more comfortable, have a small environmental footprint, and cut costs to operators. Energy savings can be up to 40% in some cases. LEED certification has also been proven to increase the value and rental rates of buildings. Juan Rodriguez wrote in an article that is LEED certified can also qualify the building for specific state and local government incentives and give more press attention to the building.

What are the Certification Levels?

The system used to award LEED certification is credit based. Buildings can earn points for environmentally friendly tactics used during design, construction, and use of the building. There are rating systems for different types of buildings such as homes, retail, healthcare, commercial, schools, and existing buildings. Each building type has a set of minimum program requirements (MPR) and has to have a set of preexisting attributes that must be present to begin the certification process. There are no points awarded for these items. There are optional credits available that will allow building types to earn points. Buildings must earn a minimum number of points to earn a certification. The point total awarded for credit is dependent upon the impact the particular action has on the environment. The USGBC determines this. The certification level utilizes a range system and is determined by the number of points earned by a building or project. The certification levels are as follows:

  • Certified (40 – 49 points)
  • Silver (50 – 59 points)
  • Gold (60 – 79 points)
  • Platinum (80+ points)

Steps to Pursue Certification

The first step in pursuing the LEED certification for your project is to register the project with the USGBC online. If possible, it is recommended to start the registration and certification during the design process and before construction or renovation. This allows the project team to incorporate better proven “credit granting” items into the design or renovation plan. Buildings pursuing certification must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Comply with environmental laws
  • Be a complete, permanent building
  • Use a reasonable site boundary
  • Comply with minimum floor area requirements
  • Comply with minimum occupancy requirements
  • Commit to sharing data
  • Comply with minimum building area to site area ratio

After registration, you should submit payment and sign the certification services agreement. From here, the project team will begin the documentation process!

2018 Clean Energy – 11 Ways to Go Green in the New Year

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As a homeowner, you can promote a cleaner environment and lower your monthly utility bills by making some simple changes to your lifestyle. And with the New Year officially here, there’s no better time to go green.

1. HVAC Tune-Up

When neglected, heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) systems become less efficient; thus, consuming more power while providing less cooling and heating power. You can keep your HVAC system running in peak condition, however, by seeking a tune-up.

2. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances

If you’re willing to spend the money, upgrading to energy-efficient home appliances can reduce your energy usage and even save you money in the long run. Washing machines touting the ENERGY STAR logo, for instance, consume approximately 40 percent water and 25 less energy than traditional washing machines.

3. Tankless Water Heater

Another way to green this year is to install a tankless water heater. Traditional water heaters hold and heat 20 to 80 gallons of water. Tankless water heaters, however, only heat water when it’s needed. Therefore, they consume less power than their counterparts.

4. Low-Flow Showerhead

Consider installing a low-flow showerhead in your home. As explained by the Department of Energy (DOE), low-flow showerheads consume less than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Replacing traditional showerheads with low-flow models yields an average water savings of about 25 percent to 60 percent.

5. Adjust Your Thermostat

Of course, you can save energy by adjusting your thermostat as well. The DOE specifically states that raising the thermostat by 10 degrees in the summer or lowering it by the same amount in the winter for eight hours a day can save homeowners up to 10 percent on their heating and cooling costs.

6. Eliminate Parasitic Drain

Some electronic devices continue to consume power even when turned off. Known as the parasitic drain, the DOE says it accounts for roughly 10 percent of the average U.S. home’s energy usage. So, if you aren’t using an electronic device, unplug it from the outlet.

7. Compact Fluorescent Lighting

Still using incandescent light bulbs in your home? Replacing them with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) will lower your energy usage. CFL bulbs use approximately 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.

8. Wash Clothes in Cold Water

According to the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), nearly 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine goes to heating the water. Washing clothes in cold water, however, eliminates this usage to create a more energy-efficient home.


9. Search for Thermal Leaks

Of course, you should also inspect your home, inside and out, for thermal leaks. Gaps around doors, windowsills, and baseboards should be sealed with caulk to minimize thermal leakage.

10. Wash Full Loads of Dishes

Assuming you have a dishwasher and don’t wash your dishes by hand, wait until you have a full load to start it. Statistics show the average dishwasher uses about 6 gallons of water. Waiting until you have a full load, however, promotes a higher level of energy efficiency.

11. Thermal Curtains

Finally, installing thermal curtains will reduce your home’s thermal energy loss and ultimately save you money on your utility bills. Thermal curtains are designed with heavy-duty material that traps thermal energy.

Following these 11 tips will set you on a greener path for the New Year.