Buzzwords such as sustainability, green and environmental responsibility are being touted more than ever by those who own and operate industrial manufacturing plants. Why? Being perceived by customers and prospects as sustainable, green and environmentally responsible can translate to marketplace advantages. A number of factors drive that mindset, including legislation such as the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), which is rewarding energy-efficient installations with tax incentives through the end of 2013.
Another driver that’s gaining prominence is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is a leading-edge system for designing, constructing, operating and certifying the greenest, most environmentally friendly buildings, including industrial facilities. Like every LEED certification program, LEED Version 31 for New Construction and Major Renovations (LEED-NC), released in April 2009, has various prerequisites and requires accruing supplemental credit points in seven areas.
A key focus of any LEED-NC industrial project should be the electrical loads dedicated to lighting, which can account for as much as 30% or more of a facility’s electric bill. Obviously, lighting supports production and safety in an industrial setting. But, well thought out lighting control can help reduce and better manage electrical consumption while still maintaining adequately lit working conditions.
Facility owners and managers with an astute understanding of available technologies are best positioned to achieve both goals en route to achieving LEED-NC certification for their new or substantially renovated plant.
LEED-NC and lighting control
LEED was developed to improve the environment, occupant health and return on investment. It reduces the effects of natural resource consumption and minimizes the strain on utilities that provide energy to an industrial facility, including electricity. But LEED also promotes whole-building, integrated design processes and provides a measurement standard for sustainable, environmentally friendly facilities, while simultaneously preventing greenwashing, those exaggerated energy-efficiency claims.
LEED offers several certification programs for commercial buildings including industrial facilities. LEED-NC should be considered when a facility is either new or undergoing a significant HVAC, envelope or interior upgrade. Conversely, LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EB: O&M) is used if a project focuses on a facility’s operations and maintenance and isn’t undergoing a major renovation.
You can achieve LEED-NC certification by meeting prerequisites and accruing supplemental credit points in several areas:
- Sustainable sites (one prerequisite, 26 possible credit points)
- Water efficiency (one prerequisite, 10 possible credit points)
- Energy and atmosphere (three prerequisites, 35 possible credit points)
- Materials and resources (one prerequisite, 14 possible credit points)
- Indoor environmental quality (two prerequisites, 15 possible credit points)
- Innovation and design process (six possible credit points)
- Regional priority (four possible credit points)
Credit points add up to LEED-NC certification levels. The Base-level certification requires 40 to 49 points, the Silver needs 50 to 59 points, the Gold requires 60 to 79 points and the Platinum needs 80 points or more.
Thus, owners and managers of new industrial facilities or those undergoing substantial renovation need to determine with other project participants, especially the consulting electrical engineer, which LEED-NC certification level can be achieved under the available budget. Because lighting control permeates many aspects of a LEED-NC project, it can help maximize potential credit points at a lower cost than other solutions, providing the owner or manager a better opportunity to achieve a desired certification level.
Plus, lighting control technologies can be installed relatively seamlessly and offer a typical payback period of two years or less. But, most importantly, lighting control is required under the Energy and Atmosphere component, which uses the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings as part of its energy efficiency requirement.
What follows is a primer on lighting control-related prerequisites and credit points that can be earned for LEED-NC certification, along with information on technological advances that can help meet those needs. Space doesn’t permit delving deeply into the nuances of the LEED programs; consulting the U.S. Green Building Council Web site (www.usgbc.org) or making contact with a LEED-accredited professional are recommended.