The Rating System
and District Energy:
What is IDEA’s role?
Tim Griffin, PE, IDEA USGBC Liaison
; Version 2.0 of the original district energy
guideline, designed to provide an update
for application to LEED for New
Construction Version 2. 2.
; Version 1.0 of a new district energy
guideline, designed to apply specifically
to the new rating system LEED Version 3.0.
; Version 1.0 of a new district energy guideline designed to apply to the recently
released LEED rating system for existing
buildings, titled LEED for Existing Buildings:
Operations & Maintenance.
Each of these guidelines will identify
how to specifically address projects that
are tied into district energy. The first two
both apply to new construction and will
be consistent with each other in their
approach to applying LEED points to district
energy. The only differences will be in their
references to each specific rating system.
The third is an entirely new creation that
will attempt to address issues specific to
Editor's Note: : “LEED + District Energy”
is a quarterly column providing information
about the U.S. Green Building Council’s
LEED® rating system and how it applies to
buildings served by district energy systems.
In last quarter’s column, I introduced
the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC),
described the philosophy and goals behind
the organization’s LEED® (Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design) Green
Building Rating System™ and talked about
why it all matters to you as a district energy
industry professional. (That column is
available on p. 103 in the online version
of the second quarter 2009 District Energy
magazine at http://tinyurl.com/2q09LEED.)
This quarter, I want to update you on what
IDEA is doing for its members relative to
First, an update: Since last quarter,
USGBC has released its latest version of
the rating system for new construction
and major renovations, titled LEED Version
3.0. As of the end of June 2009, all projects beginning the registration process for
LEED certification will have to use this version of the rating system. Projects that
registered before this timeframe have the
option to use either Version 2. 2 or the
Some of the key changes in LEED
; The rating system scale now has 100
points instead of 69. The USGBC’s goal
is to move all of its rating systems (for new
construction, existing buildings, etc.) to the
same point scale to avoid confusion.
; Regional credits have been added to
provide some flexibility, recognizing the
vast diversity within our nation.
; Energy optimization will now account
for 19 percent, instead of 14. 5 percent,
of the total points available, reflecting
the USGBC’s desire to drive greater
; With the new version’s release, the
USGBC has announced its intention to
standardize the release cycle for all of its
rating systems to a three-year period, so
the marketplace knows what to expect.
In response to a growing need for
design teams to understand how to properly apply the LEED rating system when
their projects are to be tied into district
energy, USGBC created a task force, led
by Mike Opitz, the USGBC’s vice president
of LEED implementation, to develop the
first district energy guideline. In early 2008,
the USGBC released this guideline titled
“Required Treatment of District Thermal
Energy in LEED-NC” to clarify and standardize the approach. Since early this year,
this task force has continued to meet regularly with the goal of releasing the following
three new district energy guidelines:
What Is IDEA Doing?
IDEA has been involved with LEED
both as a partner collaborating with the
USGBC’s district energy task force and by
helping association members understand
how to apply LEED.
Working With the USGBC
Since the beginning of the year, IDEA
has been working directly with the USGBC’s
district energy task force in the development
of all three guidelines mentioned above.
The association has assembled a team of
volunteers to help the USGBC review the
proposed changes and suggest improvements that will allow the rating system to
accurately account for district energy’s
advantages. The team consists of members
from Con Ed Steam Operations; NRG Thermal;
Xcel Energy, Denver; Energy Systems Co.,
Omaha; The University of Texas at Austin;
Chem-Aqua; FVB Energy; and RMF Engineering. During this period, I have had the
privilege of working as the liaison between
IDEA’s team and the USGBC’s team.
Our goal has been threefold: First, to
develop a clear understanding of the
USGBC’s goals and intentions. Second, to
find ways in which district energy can help
achieve those goals; and third, recommend
changes to the guideline that will properly
reflect the first two goals.
To date, changes in the district energy