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Technology and Green Buildings

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.

AV FSR Floorbox installed into reclaimed wooden flooring with laptop input, microphone jacks, power outlets, and data connections

FSR FL-500P AV floor box with laptop and microphone inputs in reclaimed wooden flooring

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:

U.S. Green Building Council
Green Building Certification Institute
Collaborative for High Performance Schools
Sustainable Technology for Environments Program (STEP)

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5 responses

  1. […] AV and Green Buildings (pkaudiovisual.com) […]

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  2. […] AV and Green Buildings (pkaudiovisual.com) […]

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  3. StumbleUpon brought me back here. I’d say your social marketing is working.

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    1. Paul Konikowski, CTS-D, LEED Green Associate

      Thanks Mike. I submit my articles to StumbleUpon, its sort of a cheat. Since you follow me on SU, its likely to feed you my stories. Still, its a good sign!

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