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LEED Certification Steps up Game With Regular Audits of Green Buildings and Building Automation

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is constantly evolving, and a desirable LEED certification doesn’t necessarily mean a structure and its operations is the same green project the LEED organization endorses.

LEED-Certified buildings are expected not only to gain certification for their building automation projects, but to continue maintaining their low environmental impact once the building is occupied and used for its intended purposes. 

The U.S. Green Building Council sponsors the LEED certification, but realized a significant number of buildings certified by LEED for Earth-friendly design and construction have turned out to have a higher carbon footprint than intended once they’re up and running.

As a result, USGBC is launching an initiative to ensure the LEED certified buildings are performing up to the expectations and regulations of LEED standards.  Ongoing LEED building energy performance audits will be performed, and standards will be adjusted while the program assists LEED-certified structures to stay within limits.

Interest in how a building automation system performs once it’s functioning instead of a focus on how it is expected to perform based on construction and design is an important investment.  Results from a 2008 study funded by Green Building Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection agency and performed by New Buildings Institute found that a quarter of LEED buildings surveyed were consuming more energy than similar non-LEED-certified buildings. 

A sharper focus on optimizing energy performance and keeping an eye on building performance came about for the Green Building Council when it announced in June that it would require regular submissions of energy and water consumption information from building management representatives of LEED certified structures.

 To  help the initiative, GBC is providing complimentary analytical services of the information they receive from building managers to help building owners increase the building energy optimization.

Advanced Control Corporation offers an array of environmentally sound solutions for building automation, energy management, access control and CCTV Solutions. Our experience and continuing work in building automation solutions and security automation solutions give us the skill set necessary to produce optimal results every time for our clientele.

Justification for Building Automation and Energy Retrofits Even for New Buildings

For many of those who own, lease, manage or operate buildings built after 2000, the idea of spending on retrofitting and energy-saving upgrades seems an outlandish idea:  Your investment hasn’t turned to profit, and upgrading equipment that is relatively new doesn’t seem an intuitive action to take.

However, aninvestment in optimizing energy performance today will increase the profits of your investment sooner, and for longer.  Investing early in retrofitting your building provides enough financial savings to justify the spending; oftentimes profit occurs within the first year.

In order to calculate expenses and potential profits that may arise by a retrofit, one must begin benchmarking the energy efficiency and performance of a building.  Add up the total dollar amount of your building’s energy bills for the past 12 months, then divide that number by the square footage of the building.

On average, the cost for most offices per square foot is $1.25.  If your numbers come out to an amount closer to or higher than $2 per square foot, it’s time to consider means by which you can increase your building’s energy efficiency.

Additional benchmarking tools are available at the Energy Star website.  This site allows you to input relevant data related to your energy consumption, then gives you a score  If your building scores above 75, it is eligible to become rated for the Energy Star.  A score below 50 indicates there is some work to be done in order to make your building more energy efficient.

If your building scores 50 or lower, the next step to take is to determine the cause of such high levels of energy consumption.  The key to reducing cost of energy is to use less, and with integrated building solutions, an automated system can be put into place to control different areas of your building as they are used, and these systems will turn off energy wasting devices such as lights and HVAC when they don’t need to be running.

Once a building automation system has been implemented, the most important thing to do is have competent building maintenance staff trained to use the automation system to your building’s advantages.

Advanced Control Corporation offers an array of environmentally sound solutions for building automation, energy management, access control and CCTV Solutions. Our experience and continuing work in building automation solutions and security automation solutions give us the skill set necessary to produce optimal results every time for our clientele.

Children’s Hospital Becomes first LEED Certified Children’s Hospital in the World

The Dell Children’s Hospital is to become the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum Certified Hospital in the world.  Building automation strategies will be brought into the facility, which creates energy optimization and air quality points.

Located in central Texas, Dell Children’s medical Center is being granted this certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  This hospital works closely with the Seton family of Hospitals.  A building automation system is being installed, and the technology, implementation and project management skills are on hand in order for a structure to achieve a number of points necessary in order to be granted the unprecedented LEED Platinum Certification status.

A difficult-to-meet standard, LEED certification status is something many buildings strive for. However, hospitals face an enormous challenge due to the tremendous amount of energy consumption necessary to operate 24-hours a day.  Hospitals comprise nearly 4% of the world’s building stock, and consume 8% of the energy.

The majority of LEED certified buildings include commercial office structures, where energy management is achievable because occupants use the building and energy for a limited number of hours, so they are less likely to face regulation penalties or fines if, for instance, indoor air quality slips below the required levels.

There are a number of factors that make the achievement of LEED certification a difficult task for hospitals.  They include strict health regulatory codes, around-the-clock occupancy and patient care requirements.  Dell Children’s Hospital’s achievement becomes all the more significant because of this.

Six key LEED categories considered when Dell was in the process of considering aiming for the certification include water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor air quality, sustainable site development, and Innovation & design.

LEED has a maximum of 69 total points that can be obtained in the certification process, and Dell Children’s Hospital achieved 54 points in order to win LEED Platinum Certification.

One of the most critical considerations for Dell’s LEED designation was to attain points in the areas of Energy & Atmosphere, and Indoor Environmental Quality.  The engineering, integration adn implementation of a building automation system was a vital part of the process, helping achieve two of three LEED prerequisites in Energy & Atmosphere.

The main overall goal was optimizing energy performance. Building control and building automation are important contributors to Indoor Air quality, as building automation helps control the timing and temperature of air conditioning to different areas of the building.

Advanced Control Corporation offers an array of environmentally sound solutions for building automation, energy management, access control and CCTV Solutions. Our experience and continuing work in building automation solutions and security automation solutions give us the skill set necessary to produce optimal results every time for our clientele.

Research Grant aids Building Automation and Energy Efficiency

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University received a three-year, $1.5 million grant to identify inexpensive ways to track consumption of energy in buildings.  Granted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this project will have assistance from a variety of organizations, including Bosch Research and Technology Centre North America, which is the research and development branch of te international automotive, industrial, consumer goods and building technology supplier.

On a small level, this grant gives Carnegie Mellon the opportunity to explore energy consumption on various levels, which will lead to the eventual development of tracking tools to manage usage patterns and trends of individual buildings, case-by-case, allowing suggestions to be made on different ways to conserve energy.  On a large-scale level, this opportunity gives Carnegie Mellon the opportunity to make a large step in conserving the planet’s health.

Currently, the Carnegie Mellon team is creating an outline to get specific facts about energy consumption in homes and buildings.  Between 2000 and 2007, household energy costs increased by 70%.  Carnegie Mellon’s research team plans to evaluate different means to provide better energy management, energy monitoring and energy efficiency for consumers. 

About 40% of energy consumption in the U.S. generates electricity, and nearly three quarters of the electricity is consumed by residential structures and commercial buildings.  Lighting, air conditioning, heating and ventilation are amongst easy-to-control appliances that account for roughly 20% of the electricity use in those buildings.  By reducing the high demand of electricity use in residential and commercial buildings and implementing building energy management, a large amount of energy savings for the nation would occur.

For this research project, the researchers will be using a variety of residential buildings.  Some of the buildings are currently operated by Blueroof Technology to test components and tools that montitor electricity and energy usage.

The researchers’ goals include developing cost-efficient and user-friendly energy monitoring devices that track consumption from all electric appliances individually.  Appliance-specific data allows building managers and homeowners to understand energy consumption patterns, and optimize their use of electricity with various tactics including building automation systems.

Results of this research will help lower energy consumption and produce a variety of energy-saving appliances and monitoring systems.

Climate Change, Green Energy, Building Automation Top Political Priority

Climate change is back in the spotlight politically, as legislation plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and add a $3.4 billion budget towards clean energy funds. Hearings have begun in a congressional committee on “cap-and-trade” bill, which would require a decrease in emissions by more than 80 percent over the course of the next forty years. New energy management plans will include building automation and building energy efficiency

In recent years, global warming-related issues have been a.mong top political debates. Democrats tend to be more welcoming to proposals created to slow climate change, while governing Republicans express concerns not only about whether there is a need for decreased energy consumption, but about what the financial impact on the economy these changes would create.

Current legislation is pushing for an increased investment in a clean energy agenda within the United States.  With hopes to run with that agenda, hearings have begun with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, speaking on the Clean Energy Jobs  and American Power Act.  Those in favor of the bill believe the bill would decrease domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 20% before 2020, and by over 80% by 2050 by enacting a cap-and-trade program through which companies could purchase and sell emissions credits.

About30% of the emissions credits would be granted to the electric power sector for the next 17 years, in attempt to rid detrimental economic effects.  Democrats believe the bill will stimulate the creation of new jobs in the “green energy” field.

Recently the president announced the largest investment toward energy grid modernization in U.S. history.  At a solar energy center in Florida, he announced an investment grant worth $3.4 billion dollars to go toward Smart Grid investment awards. This grant will support the installation of “smart meters”, created to help consumers monitor and control the energy consumption of their homes and businesses.

Advanced Control Corporation offers an array of environmentally sound solutions for building automation, energy management, access control and CCTV Solutions. Our experience and continuing work in building automation solutions and security automation solutions give us the skill set necessary to produce optimal results every time for our clientele.

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