What Does Green Mean to You?
The term green can mean something completely different depending on who you ask. Some will describe green as recycling or conservation, some will speak of the environment and others will talk about construction and building materials. Each company seems to carry a different standard in terms of being green. While changing all of your lighting to high-efficiency bulbs may be considered green many companies seek a certification saying it is before they make the claim. This only multiplies the mass confusion by adding dozens of sustainability indexes and certifications. One thing remains constant between corporate guidelines, sustainability indexes or government regulation; a certain amount of measurement or verification must take place.
There are multiple government guidelines including Energy Star and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program which each require multiple efficient or environmentally friendly upgrades. Adding to the guidelines are the many popular sustainability indexes, many of which rely on the measurements and verifications used in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). There are even indexes focusing only on major corporations, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In addition to these indexes and guidelines many companies are also forming their own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals or indexes with a focus on sustainability or being green. It doesn’t stop here; utility companies that offer incentives often use the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol for their measurements. With the barrage of multiple guidelines, measurements and regulations how do you find a tool that allows you to keep track of, and benchmark against, the exact regulations and codes you wish to use?
The Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO) allows you to benchmark against the exact building standards, sustainability index or guidelines that you wish. It has the ability to track your efforts towards meeting a CSR goal, green certification or other initiative. Each CEMO system is programmed specifically to meet your needs. This can even include budgets or historic usage as a baseline. Whatever figure you wish to measure yourself against the CEMO system has the capability to use. With so many different guidelines and standards it is easy to get lost in mountains of paperwork. CEMO takes the hassle out of measuring your efforts by providing quick and simple web-based dashboards that update your results in real-time. The faster you can see your exact measurements and results the sooner you can make changes to accrue success quicker and less expensively.
Lawsuit Claims LEED Program is False Advertising
The United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program has been taking a lot of fire in recent press. Henry Gifford, an energy efficiency expert, has decided to sue the USGBC stating that the LEED program is completely false advertising and that LEED buildings actually use more energy than conventional buildings. According to Gifford the LEED program monopolizes through fraud, is unfair to competition, uses deceptive trade practices, false advertising, wire fraud and even results in unjust enrichment; and these are just a portion of his claims. He states that the latest data shows that LEED rated buildings use 29% more energy than comparable buildings. Lawsuits abound in the United States, the question then becomes is the LEED program truly false advertising?
Ultimately the courts will decide whether it is or not, but, taking a look at the LEED program it is not hard to see that its main purpose and goal is not energy efficiency. The name itself describes the purpose of the program, it is focusing on design. The LEED program is currently on its third revision. It is changing to meet the growing concerns and needs of its users. The majority of the program focuses on recycled building materials, rain water capturing and reuse, and environmentally friendly practices such as native landscaping to the local ecosystem. Energy is not the only word in the title, environmental is also attached, and is truly the largest focus of the LEED program.
The LEED program is focused on constructing buildings that have the potential to use less energy. Once the building has been commissioned and becomes occupied it may change and fluctuate and indeed may use more energy than comparable buildings. The latest LEED version 3 has tried to address this by requiring five years worth of monitoring to make sure the building maintains these standards. Will a LEED building use less energy than a conventional building simply because it is constructed with the potential to do so? Of course it won’t, it can’t, because every building is constantly changing and constantly degrading. If you do not maintain your LEED buildings they will not maintain efficiency simply because there is a certification.
The question becomes, how can you tap into your LEED buildings potential? How can you take advantage of its built in ability to use less energy. The answer is Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO). The CEMO system is backed by an ISO 9001 certified team of facilities engineers. Real-time building performance information is delivered to the buildings facility personnel through comprehensive web-based dashboards. The same information is also monitored 24/7 by qualified individuals that will make sure that your LEED building is being optimized to its full potential.
LEED certification is not a “get out of jail free” pass. It does not mean that your building will automatically be super efficient for the rest of time. It does mean that your building has the ability to run efficiently. Designing a building to have the potential is extremely important, but, if that potential is not harnessed it is wasted and very easily will result in your building consuming more energy than a traditional structure. The CEMO system will make sure that your building reaches the potential that it was designed to achieve.
Be Proactive with your LEED Certification
Standards are constantly changing to keep up with new information or discoveries. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is no exception. Previous guidelines set standards for construction which included reuse of recycled materials, using stormwater or greywater for landscaping, and even light pollution standards. All of these construction aspects lead to a more energy efficient building, but what was truly happening? After construction and commissioning the buildings were changing, occupancy may have been higher than predicted, the LEED buildings were not living up to energy efficiency expectations. This realization caused the USGBC to substantially update their LEED certification program.
LEED certification has always carried with it minimum requirements, these requirements don’t carry a point value with them, but they must be met in order for certification. One of the new Minimum Program Requirements is that a building must commit to sharing whole building energy and water usage data for a minimum of 5 years. The previous versions of the LEED standards only required building performance standards to be met at the time of certification. The newer standards will disqualify a project if monitoring is not completed initially, and if monitoring is not completed for a minimum of 5 years. Even if you do get a LEED certification and you do not complete the 5 years of monitoring the USGBC has the authority to revoke your certification.
With this in mind, the CEMO energy management software allows a building owner and occupants the peace of mind of knowing the building is functioning as designed and is receiving the monitoring it needs. The software monitors and tracks energy and water data in real-time, allowing buildings to optimize performance and maintain their LEED certification. The CEMO software will issue analysis based alerts by email, text, phone call or any method you prefer should something happen to the building’s systems to cause the energy performance to fall out of compliance, so the problem can be immediately addressed. Don’t just monitor your buildings usage and store it for re-certification, unwelcome surprises may rear their heads, don’t let your building’s performance be a surprise; take a proactive approach with the CEMO system.