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What Makes A Building “Green?”

3p Contributor | Wednesday May 23rd, 2012 | 0 Comments

Energy Efficient LightingBy Danielle Stewart

As energy efficient building practices have become mainstream, terms like “green building” and “LEED certified” have become a part of the common lexicon. Despite their familiarity with these terms, many people do not fully understand the key components that contribute to the energy efficiency of a commercial building. The energy efficiency of a building is determined by both the active and passive methods that the building uses to conserve energy.

The U.S. Green Building Council, administrators of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program, evaluates how a building is designed, constructed and operated to save energy and reduce negative environmental impact. Efficient heating and cooling systems, building automation systems and energy efficient commercial lighting, such as commercial leds , are all factors that reduce the energy use of a building and help conserve the energy that is used.

For existing buildings, one of the most cost-effective ways to increase energy efficiency is to reduce the amount of energy lost through heat from outdated lighting systems.  Conventional lighting systems expend significant amounts of heat as a waste product when generating light. This both increases a building’s electricity usage and causes the HVAC system to work harder in order to eliminate this heat.

As detailed in an article on Green Building Elements by Precision Paragon, a lighting retrofit can reduce both of these sources of energy waste and decrease operations costs.

Automation systems are a major source of energy efficiency in existing buildings. By controlling lighting and heating systems based on building occupancy, outside temperature, light and time of day, automation systems can reduce energy use by activating heating, cooling or led lighting only in those areas of the building that are necessary. Combined with a lighting retrofit and an energy conserving HVAC system, such as a heat recycler, automation systems can bring an older building up to the standard of many new construction green buildings.

Sensors can detect motion inside or outside and adjust accordingly. There are various sensors a building can use such as occupancy sensors that shut down systems or lower the power when people are not in the building. Climatic sensors like solar powered air conditioning, or outdoor light sensors that automatically match lighting inside to daylight.

Energy efficient buildings are a winning situation for both a company’s operating budget and the environment. While new construction properties can benefit from passive energy conservation techniques, such as building designs that maximize sunlight for heat and light or incorporate rooftop gardens for water management and insulation, existing buildings can conserve energy without compromising comfort or safety.
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Danielle Stewart is a lighting designer who is interested in helping businesses learn about the values of retrofitting. She is also a design consultant for P-2 maker of commercial LED lighting fixtures and a leading manufacturer of energy efficient lighting and energy efficient retrofit.


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