What does LEED® stand for?
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED®, is a rating system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED® green building certification program is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. In the simplest terms, LEED = green buildings. The certification system is credit-based, which gave rise to the term LEED Scorecard. LEED points are available for every phase of the project: site selection, design, construction, ordering bulk materials, job site conditions, commissioning, the use of renewable, recycled, and/or durable goods, as well as the overall life-cycle of the building.
One helpful mantra to memorize about the LEED® process is: buildings are certified, people are accredited. For a given building to obtain LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, or LEED Platinum status, the Integrated Project Delivery team needs to have at least one LEED Accredited Professional (also known as a LEED AP) on the team, from the start of the sustainable design, through the commissioning of the project. A larger project team may have multiple LEED Accredited Professionals and LEED Green Associates designing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, acoustics, lighting, landscape, data, and audiovisual systems.
Wait a second, did I just say LEED® and AV in the same sentence?
Infocomm’s Sustainable Technology for Environments Program (STEP) is sort of like LEED for AV. STEP itself is still rather green, but as it grows from a sprout to a tree, AV manufacturers will have a place where their green products, shipping practices and facilities can showcased. AV consultants (like PK) and systems integrators can collaborate to share responsibility in the planning, design, integration and programming of systems, to minimize energy consumption while still promoting AV quality. Most importantly, clients can measure the ROI of their sustainable AV investments.
Here are some examples of how integrated audio and video systems can contribute to your next green building project:
1. Energy Star Compliant Audiovisual Devices – By specifying Energy Star compliant audiovisual devices early in the design process, the architects, engineers, and contractors can provide the proper space, backing, and electrical infrastructure needed for the flat-panel LED displays, AV equipment racks, etc. The AV systems generally support the Energy Star credit as part of a larger Energy Star calculation, which also includes all computers, copiers, refrigerators, washing machines, fax machines, etc. If a certain device required for the project does not have an ‘Energy Star equivalent’, then that device is exempt from the baseline calculations, but should still be properly documented as n/a (not applicable). For example, there is no such thing as an Energy Star-compliant HDMI cable, or and Energy Star-compliant motorized projection screen, because they only draw power for about 30 seconds each time the screen is raised or lowered. However, some projections screens are GreenGuard certified, which is important for LEED For Schools and CHPS projects.
2. Day-lighting, Shades, and Dimmable Lighting Control – Inexpensive projectors and warehouse-store televisions may not be bright enough to overcome the ambient light in many new green buildings, so it’s very important to plan your AV enabled meeting spaces properly, including proper AV equipment, manual or motorized shades, solar window films, and dimmable lighting fixtures. Most MEP engineers know these systems can be controlled automatic using occupancy and light level sensors. But did you know you can also control them all using a Droid or an iPad?
3.Recycled Content –There are number AV products on the market that are somewhat made of recycled materials, including projector housings, acoustic panels, and loudspeakers. Swapping out 2 speakers on your next hang-and-bang may not earn you the LEED credit. But, the AV design could make a HUGE difference in an expo hall, airport, casino, or mall project, where a large majority of the AV system is ceiling mounted speakers made from 50% recycled content.
4.Possible Innovative Design Credits – I’ve heard of a couple AV folks trying to get LEED innovative design (ID) credits for audiovisual systems: one involved videoconferencing as an alternative to travel, the other was using digital signage (LED/LCD flat panel monitors) as part of a larger educational aspect, where the building would be used as a teaching tool. The flat panels might display the building’s energy and water consumption versus a typical non-LEED building of the same size (baseline). This sort of interactive education can directly influence the building’s users and visitors, and help develop sustainable habits, measurably improving the building performance over time. Once I hear a verdict on the credits, I will follow up on this blog post.
In summary, the best strategy to obtaining a LEED certification is to use Integrated Project Delivery (or IPD), including at least one LEED Accredited Professional in a Principal position. This integrative approach emphasizes communication and teamwork between the architect, building owner(s), operators, engineers, and contractors. The term “integrated design” is usually applied to new construction, but this integrative process can also be adopted for tenant improvements, land-use, or any phase in the life-cycle of a project.
For more information on Green Buildings, Integrated Project Delivery, LEED® Certification, and Professional Accreditation, please email Paul Konikowski at pkav.info at gmail.com, or visit these websites:
What’s in it for me? or RU sure?
Earlier this month, I attended the Almo ProAV E4 event in South San Francisco, a mix of free food, continuing education classes, a raffle, and a showcase of Almo’s manufacturers in a miniature trade show environment. It was a good crowd, balanced between local AV integrators, design consultants, regional sales managers, and national experts of the AV industry including Gary Kayye of rAVe publications.
In addition to the new gear and obvious networking potential, I also attended E4 largely because of the free CTS-D renewal units (or RUs) available for attending the 1-2 hour classes. I wasn’t the only one; a few of my Bay-area CTS and CTS-D-toting friends also mentioned how much they appreciated the free Infocomm renewal credits. (I’ve said it before: Don’t you just love free?)
For readers outside of The Land of AV: Infocomm Intenational® is a nonprofit association serving the professional AV communications industry, since 1939 A.D. (or 1 A.V.) I like to think of Infocomm as the clergy of the AV industry, teaching us the Best Practices (The Golden Rules) of AV design and integration. If 25% or more of your company’s sales and technical staff is certified as an Infocomm CTS, CTS-I, or CTS-D, your company can also call themselves an Infocomm Audio Visual Solutions Provider, or AVSP. To maintain your individual Infocomm CTS certification, you must obtain 30 RUs every 3 years, and pay them some money of course. (Hey we all gotta eat, right? Even clergy.)
Also starring The Letter C, the other major AV industry association is CEDIA. A CEDIA Membership is a company membership, and employees of those companies are considered Members. Their renewal credits are called Continuing Education Units or CEUs. Both Infocomm and CEDIA host trade shows every year, showcasing new audio, video, touchpanels, and other audiovisual products. The main difference between Infocomm and CEDIA is this: CEDIA is mostly centered around the home theater and consumer integration market, whereas Infocomm is largely focused on commercial integration and unified communication. There is plenty of overlap between the two markets, and there are other audio, video, and broadcast associations out there too.
AV geeks are not the only geeks that need these renewal units to renew their licenses. Architects and need AIA and CES renewal credits, as do Professional Engineers (the requirements vary state to state). This past week, I was invited to co-host a lunch and learn presentation at the City and County of San Francisco’s Bureau of Architecture office. About half of the 25 attendees signed up for the AIA/CES renewal credits; I guess the other half were there for the free lunch. Hopefully, they all learned something.
Hopefully, you did too.What types of continuing educations credits are you required to obtain? Does your company offer formal classes, or lunch and learns, that include AIA, CTS, CEU, or other renewal units? Please comment below, or email the author Paul Konikowski at pkav.info at gmail.com