Green, sustainable and high performance designs all refer to the same type of buildings; ones that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy environments to live and work. The best approach to sustainable design is to use the whole building perspective by incorporating lower energy consumption, minimal environmental impact, superior occupancy comfort, and a high level of indoor air quality.
Since the inception in 1993, the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been leading a national consensus to produce a new generation of buildings that deliver high performance inside and out. At the USGBC Membership Summit in August 1998, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) Pilot Project Program (LEED™ version 1.0) was launched. The LEED™ Rating System was developed by the USGBC under contract for the U. S. Department of Energy. Twelve projects completed the application process and were recognized as LEED™ Certified Pilot Projects. In March of 2000 LEED™ version 2.0 was released and the current version 2.1 (LEED - NC) was released in November 2002.
LEED® Rating System
The LEED™ Rating System is a standard that improves environmental and economic performance of commercial buildings using established and/or advanced industry principles, practices, materials and standards. LEED™ was created to:
- define "green building" by establishing a common standard of measurement
- promote integrated, whole-building design practices
- recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
- stimulate green competition
- raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
- transform the building market
The original rating system is expanding from a system that was intended for commercial buildings (version 2.0) to several rating systems:
- LEED – NC (version 2.1) new construction and major renovation projects
- LEED – EB (pilot version) existing building operations
- LEED – CI (pilot version) commercial interiors projects
- LEED – CS (pilot version) core and shell projects
- LEED – H homes
The LEED™ Rating System includes seven prerequisites and sixty-nine possible points. Of the seven prerequisites one is the implementation of the commissioning process and two others require that they be commissioned. Of the sixty-nine possible points twenty-seven either require commissioning or commissioning is recommended.
Commissioning and Green Buildings
Green buildings are designed, constructed and operated to minimize negative environmental consequences. The result is a facility that minimally changes the natural environment, uses fewer materials, consumes less energy and water, has a high quality indoor environment, produces less waste, has a sustainable operation and maintenance program and is cost effective under current building conditions. To achieve these illustrious goals new and innovative technology must be designed into the project. If this new technology is not selected, designed, purchased and installed properly it will have little more benefit than the employment of standard proven technology.
Green design is relatively new to some architects and engineers. The sharing of innovative technology through the manufacturing and design communities has increased green design knowledge and building products have become more affordable and available. The construction community is also increasing the knowledge of high performance construction methods but what does a designer do when the installing contractors are vaguely familiar with high performance construction? Commissioning ensures that the green design is accomplished during the construction of the facility. The commissioning process should be viewed as an integral part of the project team. What better insurance could you want than a neutral project team member whose only goal is for the other members to complete their responsibilities successfully?
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