In the United States, buildings use one-third of our total energy, so therefore building owners need to know and understand the energy consumption of their building due to the high cost of energy and the uncertainty of future energy costs.
This knowledge will also be a benefit to the building ownership in regard to value of the building when steps are taken during design and construction to reduce energy consumption.
The U.S. Green Building Council has developed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system where a building is designed and built to meet the criteria for the four levels of certification. Those four levels are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These rating levels can only be achieved when a LEED’s certified professional is involved with the design and construction of the building. LEED certification takes into account all of the aspects of the building process from site selection, material delivery distances, distance to public transportation, and many other environmental impacts. Should a building owner select not to have his building LEED certified due to the strict requirements and cost impact, he should direct his building design team to incorporate energy saving systems to increase his building value.
The following are some to be considered:
Artificial lighting needs to be selected to reduce heat load of the light fixture. Light fixtures typically produce heat when operating which requires more air conditioning. Reducing the heat load of the light fixture will reduce the air conditioning requirements of the building. Also many of the light fixtures on the market which
produce low heat load are more efficient to operate and have a long lifespan.
New advancements are being made in LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting where these systems can be used to reduce energy. In the future LED light bulbs will replace other low efficiency lighting helping reduce energy cost, reduce maintenance, and disposal costs.
ROOF AND WALL INSULATION
Increasing the thickness of roof and wall insulation help to reduce heat or cooling lost through the largest exposed areas of the building. Special attention should be given to the roof area due to the direct exposure to the sun. Also thought should be given to the roofing material selection to increase the reflectivity of the sun’s rays. Thin solar panels are now being developed to be placed on building exteriors to produce electrical currents to help power the building systems. These systems should be ready for building use in the next three (3) to five (5) years.
The exterior glass systems of the building should include an insulated glass panel with reflective coating and a thermal break in the framing system. The reflective glass helps control the heat gain of the building, helping reduce the energy requirements for conditioned air. Thermal breaks in the framing system eliminate the thermal conductivity between the inner air condition of the building and outer building conditions. Another consideration to the glass system design is using reflectors or diffusers to help add natural light but not direct heat gain caused by the sun’s rays. Not too far in the future, we will have “intelligent” glass systems which increase glass reflectivity as the solar gain increase similar to eye glass lens which change from clear to darker as lighting increases.
Another system which should be considered when building a building in the Atlanta area is rainwater reclamation or rainwater harvesting, due to the small drainage basin which servesthe metro Atlanta area. In simple terms, a rainwater harvesting system collects and stores rainwater which falls on the building site for future use. If the building is designed properly, this water can be used in the building for non-potable use such as toilet flushing, cleaning, and landscape irrigation. If stored rainwater is used in this manner, use of city or county water can be reduced by up to 60%. Sunbelt Structures – Use of Efficient Lighting Achieving Medical Practice Profitability
This article only mentions a few of many energy saving systems which should be considered when building a new facility or renovating an existing facility to increase the over-all project value. Should the owner have interest in energy savings and a concern for the environment, he should select a competent architect and general contractor to aid him with the selection of energy saving systems and the cost impact and pay back of those energy saving systems.
by Eric A. Schoppman – Schoppman Company