In 2000, the U.S. Green Building Council, a coalition of leaders across the building industry, introduced the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program as a standard for rating new construction projects. The program has grown to include certification for existing buildings.
LEED buildings are high-perfomance buildings
The goal of the LEED program is to promote buildings that are energy efficient, environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. LEED was created to:
- Define "green buildings" 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
LEED provides the complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. A point system for the following categories is used to determine attainment of certification:
- Energy usage and atmosphere
- Indoor air quality
- Sustainable sites
- Materials and resources
- Water efficiency
- Design and process innovation
The higher standards established for LEED certification not only reduce operating cost, but also offer tax incentives, rebates and other economic benefits.
LEED standards are currently available or under development for:
- New commercial construction and major renovation projects. Includes construction and renovation project criteria in categories such as sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy usage and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovations and design process.
- Existing building operations. Includes standards for the sustainable operation of existing buildings. The criteria cover building operation and system upgrades in existing facilities where the majority of the interior or exterior surfaces remain unchanged.
- Commercial interior projects. This LEED rating system applies to tenant improvement projects including the selection of sustainable tenant space, efficiency of water usage, energy performance optimization, resource utilization for interior building systems and furnishings, and indoor environmental quality.
- Core and shell projects. A program for new building owners, designers, builders and developers who address sustainable design for new and shell construction including building structure, envelope and central HVAC systems.
For more information
Visit the U.S. Green Building Council’s Web site for additional information about LEED standards.
Natural gas systems can be a substantive reason for obtaining LEED certification. Applications powered by natural gas that can be included in the LEED certification rating include:
High efficiency boilers. Boilers use natural gas to supply heat by using low-pressure steam or hot water. A system of pipes circulates heat through the building. High efficiency boilers can feature pulse combustion, high turn down burners, economizers, vent dampers, reset or cut-out controls and other energy saving features.
High efficiency furnaces. Furnaces circulate air across a heat exchanger with a blower or fan, and distribute heated air throughout the building using a series of ducts. Energy efficient furnaces feature a secondary heat exchanger, electronic ignition, sealed combustion and pulse combustion.
High efficiency water heaters. Efficiency features include devices to prevent sediment from collecting on heat transfer surfaces, improving heating efficiency and reducing hot water recovery time; low-input pilot burners to minimize standby losses; and improved flue design to capture additional heat from the combustion gases. Additional benefits include improved performance, longer life, extended warranties and safer operation.
Energy recovery systems. Reclaim exhaust air from building systems, lowering energy use and operating costs. Improved indoor air quality and more even, comfortable heating throughout the facility are additional benefits.
High efficiency foodservice equipment. Increase production over standard equipment and cuts costs for your foodservice operation.
Desiccant displacement systems. This system brings in fresh air to be pumped downward by a diffuser. Rising warmer air uses occupants as chimneys, following their bodies upward and out. Air is humidified in winter, dehumidified in summer. The conditioned air is noticeably fresher, cleaner, humidity-controlled and healthier.
CenterPoint Energy can help support you in your LEED certification process with the following programs:
Designing and installing mechanical systems for potential LEED certification takes the right expertise. To encourage participation in the certification process, which can yield energy efficiency and environmental benefits, CenterPoint Energy will reimburse commercial and industrial customers for up to $10,000 of engineering fees assessed by consulting engineers for the design and installation (not to exceed engineering bid) of energy-efficient equipment that qualifies for LEED certification.
To help fund the initial assessment, you may qualify for an advance of up to $5,000 in engineering financial assistance (not to exceed 25 percent of engineering bid) to offset the cost of the engineering fees associated with LEED certification. You may be eligible for up to an additional $5,000 if you install qualifying process technology.
To qualify for Engineering Assistance:
- A LEED-certified, registered professional engineer must prepare the plans.
- Customers must get pre-approval from CenterPoint Energy for their Engineering Assistance Application.
- Customers must provide technical documentation to CenterPointEnergy.
CenterPoint Energy offers rebates for the following energy-efficient natural gas equipment:
- Heating systems (including boilers)
- Water heaters
- Low flow showerheads and faucet aerators
- Energy recovery systems
- Energy-efficient process equipment
- Foodservice equipment