LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, Certification is something clients are often the most interested in when it comes to new building design. After all, LEED is the premier mark of sustainability and environmentally conscious buildings. It shows to the world the client is dedicated to environmental stewardship and responsibility.
But what does all of that mean? Moreover, what does that mean to the design team, especially the MEP engineers?
For a little backstory, I have 30 years in the industry, most of which have been here at DFW Consulting Group. I became a LEED Accredited Professional in 2004 and have been an advocate for sustainable (energy efficient) design since I stated my career as a consulting engineer in 1972.
The core purpose of the USGBC is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible and prosperous environment that improves quality of life. There are a number of LEED programs, levels of certification, and categories that I won’t address today for the sake of keeping this brief but you can learn about them at USGBC.org. The concept of LEED encourages engineers to think about the systems that will create a sustainable project. This means the site as well as the building, considering storm water, light pollution, wastewater, water use reduction, energy performance, refrigerant management, on-site renewable energy, and the materials and resources we use. Much of LEED, especially from the architect’s perspective is centered on using materials that are regional, renewable, recycled, and repurposed. All important items, but they are only one piece of the puzzle.
As engineers designing a LEED project, it is our duty to consciously design an indoor environment that is focused not solely on quality but also efficiency. Our design must meet minimum Indoor Air Quality or IAQ performance, thus contributing to comfort and well-being of occupants. This includes increased ventilation, outdoor air delivery monitoring, indoor chemical and pollutant source control, thermal comfort and plenty of daylight; all while reducing energy consumption. We achieve these goals by careful design using state-of-the-art engineering tools and commissioning systems to ensure the facility runs like it was intended.
As engineers designing a LEED project, it is our duty to consciously design an indoor environment that is focused not solely on quality but also efficiency.
Creating environmentally conscious facilities is a team effort and challenge that we look forward to with each new project. As engineers working with owners and architects, we have been given the unique opportunity to impact the world we live in, and it is one of the reasons we enjoy doing what we do.