June 18, 2014
LEED certification is recognized globally as a premier mark of achievement in green building. Gaining LEED certification helps organizations reduce negative environmental impacts of buildings while promoting occupant health and well-being. The assistance of various tactics like thermal energy storage, recycled materials and day-lighting can help allow for specific green building criteria to be met under the LEED rating system.
Striving for excellence
There are different levels of certification depending on how well organizations meet specific green building criteria. Obtaining the highest level, platinum, demands a degree of effort and adherence that is difficult to attain and sustain without setting clear environmental goals, setting an adequate budget, determining life cycle costs and hiring LEED accredited professionals.
There are four levels:
- Certified 40–49 points
- Silver 50–59 points
- Gold 60–79 points
- Platinum 80 points and above
Gaining at least 80 credits toward LEED certification is the only way to reach platinum level, and in order to achieve this type of excellence, businesses must strive to enact as many carbon-reducing, emissions-limiting and conservation tactics as possible.
Thermal energy storage
Thermal energy storage is one tactic that has helped some buildings reach LEED Platinum status through power conservancy during peak demand hours. During peak demand hours, when strain on the grid is highest and power providers run their most inefficient power plants thermal storage kicks on using cleaner, less expensive off-peak or renewable power.
Some LEED Platinum installations that have taken advantage of thermal energy storage include the Bank of America Tower at 1 Bryant Park which was the first commercial skyscraper in the U.S. to achieve LEED Platinum and was recipient of 2010 Best Tall Building Americas. Health care REIT boasts a LEED Platinum certified building in Toledo, Ohio. SAP America headquarters uses energy storage and is LEED Platinum certified, ENERGY STAR rated and 49% more energy efficient than conventional buildings according to the architect, FXFOWLE. Also, Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, Indiana is LEED Platinum certified.
Thermal energy storage may help obtain points toward the 80-point criteria needed to gain the highest level of certification that LEED has to offer by helping with LEED credits in the Energy & Atmosphere credit area for optimizing energy performance. Thermal storage increases levels of energy performance significantly above the prerequisite ASHRAE standards by reducing energy costs. Up to three demand response credits are also attainable with thermal storage by permanently shifting cooling loads and reducing peak demand by 10%. Participation in demand response or having infrastructure such as thermal storage in place to be prepared for future programs helps towards the Demand Response credit EA4.