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Sustainability, Beyond the Initial Certification. Our Work is Not Done.

By John Anderson

May 10, 2017 Architecture, Community, Design, News, Sustainability, Team, USGBC

Sustainability, Beyond the Initial Certification. Our Work is Not Done.

The services, consultation and design provided by your Architect should create a culture and awareness of environmental responsibility for your building occupants, visitors and facility managers.   However, when it comes to creating a “Green” or “Sustainable” project, the work to ensure the long-term benefits of your initial investment are achieved should continue well beyond the initial design, construction and occupancy of your building.

One of the economic paybacks to pursing a certification in Nevada is the green building tax abatement program which offers a 35% abatement of property taxes for a period up to 10 years.  The potential savings for a site with a new $10M building is anywhere from $106,000 to $297,000 over the term of the abatement.  To ensure the full payback is realized, buildings must be re-commissioned to certify the performance of systems utilizing energy and measures being utilized to conserve resources within your building.

LEED Property Tax CalculatorThe three story 110,000 square foot Harmon Corner retail center was design by SH Architecture in 2012 and obtained LEED New Construction Core and Shell, Silver Certification in 2013.  Our challenge was to design a high performing building that would see over 80,000 visitors per day passing through the building via a pedestrian walkway on one of the busiest corners in Las Vegas.  To achieve efficiencies, we provided limited outdoor air and Heat Pump Air Handling Units within the pedestrian walkway where we would see a significant amount of outside air exchanges through the buildings vestibule entries.  The resulting energy use of this facility was 35%-40% better than similar buildings and achieved an Energy Star Target Finder score of 75 or more.  The project achieved a 25% abatement of property taxes for a period of 8 years.

Over time building systems begin to wear and performance is reduced. Even the most energy efficient, “green” building systems will begin to reduce efficiencies after initial startup.  Nevada Administrative Code requires third-party compliance report and documentation by year three of operations to maintain property tax abatements.

To maintain the property tax abatement the management team at the Harmon Retail Corner building continued to improve the facilities performance by installing heat pump hot water tanks as close to the point of use on each floor as possible.  In addition, the lighting systems where upgraded to LED lighting where possible and the use of lighting controls where implemented in the back-of-house areas to reduce unnecessary energy loss related to occupant use.

In April of 2017, the building management team at the Harmon Retail Corner retained Greenview Global, LLC an ANSI-ASHRAE Certified Commissioning Process LED lighting Management to validate the performance of the energy and resource consuming operable systems.  The findings of those activities conclusively validated the intended performance of the building and provided an Energy Star Validated output which indicates that the facility is performing over 40% better than the median equivalent facility utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star for Buildings program.

We all know that building maintenance activities and investments we make help to extend the life of our buildings.  It is important that building Owners and Managers are aware of the “green” or “sustainability” goals establish in the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) during the design phases.  This will ensure that any future maintenance will help improve operational performance.