Not all building owners decide to pursue LEED certification. But the LEED rating system virtually guarantees that the very best environmental practices are being followed. In 2013, a new version of the rating system called LEED v4 will be approved. USGBC will keep LEED 2009 available for three more years, but project teams can move to the new version of LEED during that period. LEED v4 focuses on increasing technical stringency from past versions and developing new requirements for project types such as data centers, warehouses & distribution centers, hotels/motels, existing schools, existing retail, and mid-rise residential. The credit requirement changes in the proposed LEED v4 rating system are the most extensive in LEED’s twelve-year history. Retail-specific requirements will be added, including the energy and refrigerant credits.
The Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite will be updated to reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. Retail-specific process load requirements will be added including refrigeration equipment, cooking and food preparation, clothes washing, and other major support appliances. Many industry standard baseline conditions for commercial kitchen equipment and refrigeration will be defined, meaning that no additional documentation is necessary to substantiate these predefined baseline systems as industry standard. For appliances and equipment not covered in the baseline measures, LEED project teams must indicate hourly energy use for proposed and budget equipment, along with estimated daily use hours. ENERGY STAR ratings and evaluations are a valid basis for performing this calculation. For hard-wired refrigeration loads, team must model the effect of energy performance improvements with a simulation program designed to account for refrigeration equipment.
LEED v4 will also make changes to the Enhanced Refrigerant Management credit. Stores with commercial refrigeration systems must select equipment with an average HFC refrigerant charge of no more than 1.75 pounds of refrigerant per 1,000 Btu/h total evaporator cooling load. Store must also demonstrate a predicted store-wide annual refrigerant emissions rate of no more than 15% and conduct leak testing using the procedures in GreenChill’s best practices guideline for leak tightness at installation.
The retail and foodservice industries are investing in environmentally-friendly construction, in accordance with LEED guidelines, to enhance occupant comfort and reduce environmental impact. LEED building design requires some added initial cost; however, research shows the investment becomes offset over time by a reduction in energy usage and other related expenses.
Why the interest in LEED? Concern for the environment and sustainable development is growing, and LEED is a way that businesses can prove they are good corporate citizens. LEED promotes a whole building approach to sustainability through the principles of green building and integrated building design. There is a conscious effort to systematically integrate the design of building systems, such as HVAC, refrigeration, lighting, water management, and other mechanical systems with the building design itself, so as to achieve higher levels of performance.
Rajan Rajendran, Ph.D
Vice President, Engineering Services and Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies