Friday, March 16, 2012

May I Borrow Your Jumper Cables?

Lauren Riggs, LEED AP
Manager, LEED Performance
U.S. Green Building Council

“May I borrow some jumper cables?” The brick building asked the building next door. The brick building’s energy use was out of control; It needed to kick-start its efficiency. The building next door answered with Energy Jumpstart, the new pilot prerequisite in USGBC’s Pilot Credit Library. USGBC hopes that this pilot can act as a set of jumper cables to stir up a segment of the buildings market that has the potential to make huge energy efficiency gains.

Source: Charles Williams via Flickr
On March 1, when the third public comment period for LEED 2012 opened, USGBC launched Pilot Credit 67 (aka Energy Jumpstart), a Pilot Alternative Compliance Path for EA Prerequisite 2 in LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance.

Confused?…let me explain.

If you’re familiar with LEED, you know each LEED prerequisite has mandatory pathways for compliance. For Energy and Atmosphere prerequisite 2, the traditional entry point for most buildings has been an ENERGY STAR rating of 69, a benchmark that certain market segments, such as older buildings, have a particularly tough time meeting. Cue Energy Jumpstart, an alternative path for this prerequisite (and the first pilot alternative compliance path ever), targeted at older buildings with energy challenges.

Projects pursuing the pilot must show an energy improvement of 20 percent over a 12 month period, as compared to a three year baseline, qualifying them for initial certification at the Certified level. Keep in mind that USGBC wants projects to recertify – so these projects have the opportunity to come back into LEED at Silver, Gold or Platinum in the future!

The requirements for this pilot prerequisite were first in the LEED 2012 for Existing Buildings: O&M Draft Rating System, but were moved into the pilot library for a few reasons:
  • The market now has a chance to pilot this new pathway under LEED 2009
  • USGBC has the opportunity to refine the pilot requirements as the market comments on its use of the pilot
  • USGBC and the market can work together to determine the demand and effectiveness of a performance improvement path for LEED.
Obtaining full market buy-in and demonstrating demand for a pathway like Energy Jumpstart is essential for the success of this option in LEED – the more projects that use the pilot prerequisite to jump into LEED, the better. Let’s get all buildings running efficiently. Let’s let all leaders lead. And let’s put a hand out to those who need a little help making a big difference.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lauren,
    It's awesome that this has been put forth as an option for compliance. We were concerned to see that it was not in the 3rd Draft, especially working in the Southeast where energy efficiency is not yet a buzz word per se, but if the reason behind this decision was to refine pilot, that makes total sense. I've spent a lot of time with this PR, and off the bat, I think it would be a step in the right direction moving forward to allow buildings to show a straight site energy decrease, meaning by-passing Energy Star Portfolio Manager (so long as accurate data can be provided, etc.). This is not to say that Portfolio Manager is not a great tool - it is! But Source EUI and the whole system doesn't always reflect energy efficiency gains accurately or consistently. I write this with all the respect in the world for the EPA and Energy Star, but some thought could be given to expanding the options for compliance. I would love the opportunity to test this path, and hope to be able to be a part of the process in supporting you guys. It's a bit disappointing that other levels of certification are not available right away; however, it is a compromise to allow buildings to recertify at higher levels...It's a difficult thing to find the common ground between creditability and attainability, and Option 3 has turned into quite the hot button issue. But this is a step in the right direction in maintaining the awesome mission of Market Transformation. EBOM has the most potential to make the broadest impact gains in this country and across the globe…
    Some building managers inherit new, super-efficient buildings, while others must toil in older, less efficient buildings – often with limited funds – to cut consumption. I recently heard a great analogy that likened an alternative path for EA PR 2 compliance to teaching in an inner city school… that EBOM should be like a rating system for teachers. One is not necessarily a good teacher because he or she teaches at a prep school where kids were already scoring high before they got there; one is a good teacher if he or she improves a student’s performance in the time that is given, even if these students were very low scoring inner-city kids to start with…some would say that is a more meaningful indication of progress.
    Thanks for all your work on this – think it will have a big impact if it can be widely adopted! Looking forward to seeing how this goes!