By Scott Jordan
There are many ways for owners and managers of existing commercial buildings to be environmentally responsible these days, and one of the most effective is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program administered by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is a system for significantly reducing, and even eliminating, the harmful impact of buildings on the environment and occupants.
Several LEED-certification programs are available, including one for existing buildings (LEED-EB), where energy efficiency takes on more importance than in the LEED program for new construction. Various certification levels within LEED-EB are achieved by meeting prerequisites and accruing up to 85 supplemental credit points in several general categories, including:
- Energy & Atmosphere - 23 possible points.
- Indoor Environmental Quality - 22 possible points.
- Innovation in Upgrades, Operations, and Maintenance - 5 possible points.
Because lighting can account for more than 30 percent of a building’s electrical load, whole-building lighting control is proving to be a focal point for many certification processes due to benefits like increased energy efficiency and the ability to monitor and manage lighting resources. Recent technological advances - including systems that allow for Web-enabled lighting control, user-friendly input devices, and infrared movement sensors - are augmenting those considerations.
While lighting control is appropriate for several different categories, the biggest impact of a lighting-control system will be found in the following areas:
- Energy & Atmosphere. Credit 1: Optimize Energy Performance (10 points): The focus of this credit is to reduce the environmental impact associated with excessive energy usage by increasing the level of energy performance beyond the prerequisite. As lighting is often the largest contributor to a building’s total energy usage, lighting control becomes critical to assure that lighting loads are effectively managed. Credit 5.1-5.3: Performance Measurement - Enhanced Metering (1-3 points): This credit encourages ongoing optimization of energy performance over time. Today’s network-based lighting-control systems can seamlessly integrate lighting control and electrical metering functions of a building. Such systems share the same communication cable and protocols and are able to facilitate reports on metered data by lighting zone, space, and building.
- Indoor Environmental Quality. Credit 6.1: Controllability of Systems - Lighting (1 point): A credit for occupant lighting controllability can be earned by using ambient and task lighting that can be altered based on occupant preferences. LEED-EB requires control that covers at least 50 percent of building occupants. Lighting-control components (like keypads and touch-screens that can execute pre-set lighting scenes) are commonly used for providing occupant controllability.
- Innovation in Upgrades, Operations, and Maintenance. Credit 1: Innovation in Upgrades, Operations, and Maintenance (1-4 points): This is a unique credit, encouraging innovation by awarding points for additional environmental benefits achieved beyond those already addressed by LEED-EB. Management features of today’s lighting-control systems allow operators to track run times for scheduling lamp replacements and monitor critical environmental sensor levels.
Scott Jordan is product marketing manager at Palatine, IL-based Square D/Schneider Electric (www.squared.com).