Achieving LEED Certification

Many manufacturing and distribution facility owners consider the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification the ultimate sustainability prize. Thomas Taylor, general manager for St. Louis-based sustainability consultant firm Vertegy, offers tips for earning LEED certification.

1. In warm-climate regions, install a white roof. A white or light-colored roof may be one of the easiest ways to go green. Before installing one, however, consider its impact on your building’s overall energy use. This solution helps reduce energy costs in warm climates, but may add to heating costs in cold climates.

2. Install high-efficiency fluorescent or LED fixtures. Increasing interior lighting efficiency is key to reducing costs associated with electricity use. Technological advancements in high-efficiency lighting systems have improved the quality of fixtures while lowering the costs.

3. If you use skylights, install daylight sensors. Skylights reduce the amount of manufactured light needed inside a space during daylight. Pair them with photo sensors that turn off lights when skylights create sufficient daylight.

4. Use occupancy or motion sensors for stock areas and in light-use aisles. Many lighting systems are designed to be either on or off. Using motion sensors that automatically turn lights on or off in less-traveled areas helps reduce electricity use and costs.

5. Install variable-speed drive motors for all ventilation equipment. Ventilation systems within a warehouse are often set to run on one speed. This type of equipment may cost less to install, but evaluate the potential energy savings of using variable-speed drive motors, which can automatically adjust fan speed to the building’s needs. The electricity cost savings may offset the equipment investment in less than two years.

6. Look for dual-duty opportunities. If your facility is required to have general ventilation and emergency smoke evacuation fans, check with the fire marshal or building inspector to see if you can use one system to do both. Some code officials allow you to use the smoke evacuation system as general ventilation if controls are put in place for override in emergency situations. Installing one piece of equipment that serves two purposes can lower initial investment and ongoing electricity use.

7. Use light-colored paving around the site. Paving roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots with light-colored materials such as concrete helps avoid the ambient temperature increase caused by dark paved surfaces. Lowering the temperature around a building can reduce the electricity needed to cool or ventilate it.

8. Encourage employees to carpool. Designate preferred parking for those who share a ride to work.

9. Landscape with native plants instead of turf grass. Native or adapted plantings use less water, require less maintenance, and can be more aesthetically pleasing than turf grass.

10. Consult a pro. It is easy to become overwhelmed by building a new structure, especially when incorporating sustainability measures. Hiring a professional experienced in LEED certification adds to the project’s cost, but may help avoid missed opportunities.

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