Green buildings – EPA’S energy performance ratings
The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a suggested list of guidelines for design consultants and contractors to further green energy conservation. For owners considering incorporating some of the energy-efficiency and energy-conservation measures in their new buildings, the EPA suggests pursuing the following strategies:
- Establish an energy performance target with your design consultants. The EPA’s Building Design Guidance Checklist can be helpful in that respect.
- During predesign the owner and the design consultants should investigate energy-related design concepts that consider the geographic environment and local climate, building orientation, and other features that will impact performance in the future, such as the effect of building overhangs and landscaped areas.
- Develop a scope of work, project budget, and schedule that include energy-efficient strategies and performance goals.
- At the schematic design stage, perform various simulations for various energy options and technologies, and compare them to the initial performance goal.
- During the design development stage, prepare energy performance specifications for materials and equipment. Gather manufacturers ’ technical information, which can be included in the bid documents.
- A building automation system included in the design criteria will allow owners to track actual energy consumption over time and provide the necessary automated controls to tune equipment performance.
- When the contractor-selection process begins and contractor qualification forms are issued, include a section for the contractor’s previous experience with green buildings and energy-conservation activities.
- The commissioning process at the completion of construction and prior to building turnover is critical to ensure that the design energy performance has been attained.
- EPA suggests that once an owner’s building has been operating for 12 months, log on to their Web-based portfolio manager to track and rate annual energy performance.
The EPA national energy performance rating helps energy managers assess how efficiently their building uses energy compared to a nationwide rating. The system’s scale ranges from 1 to 100, with high efficiencies having a higher number; a rating of 50 percent would be considered average. Factors used in determining efficiency include the size of the building, its location, and the number of occupants. The rating system compares actual energy data entered by the building owner to an estimate, thereby reflecting the owner’s building rank relative to his or her peers ’ . This EPA performance estimate is gleaned from a statistical analysis of data collected by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration during a quadrennial commercial building energy consumption survey that tests this model with real buildings.