Did you know that energy used in residential, commercial and public buildings accounts for 35 percent of total global final energy consumption? The International Energy Agency has found that buildings use up more energy than transportation and industrial sites. The worldwide demand for energy in buildings is growing — the IEA expects demand to increase up to 60 percent by 2050.
Energy efficiency is one of the most promising ways to guarantee a secure energy future, and buildings are one of the best places to conserve. That is why the US Green Building Council launched its internationally recognised LEED certification program that provides leadership in energy and environmental design, which verifies that a building was designed to improve, among other metrics, energy savings.
LEED-certified buildings are fast becoming an attractive option to tenants, whether they are looking for office spaces, retail spaces or large tourist attraction spots. The key drivers that are pushing growth for the green buildings markets are twofold and include strong government efforts in establishing regulatory standards as well as the provision of grants and incentives to companies that are going the green way.
Green Building Rating
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a green building rating system that looks at the design, construction, operations and maintenance of a building and how it can significantly help companies to bring down their operational costs, with savings on time and resources to manage the building, and most of all, to benefit the environment in a sustainable manner. The rating system is applied across many infrastructures including office buildings, manufacturing plants, hotels, laboratories and many other building types.
The hot bed for LEED buildings in the Asia Pacific region are predominantly found in developed countries, such as in Singapore where there are about 700 of these buildings and counting. The Singapore government has also developed a third green building master plan to achieve 80 percent of green buildings in the building and construction market by 2030. Similarly, in Australia, the government has plans underway to transform all government buildings into green buildings, setting a great example for companies in the private sector to follow suit.
Some key aspects to design and build a LEED-certified building include Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) controls which provides thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality, lighting controls that respond to occupancy and daylight, access to sunlight and views, and better usage of office space to achieve an overall ‘high performance building’.
Another goal is to make buildings ‘smart’ — able to monitor their own energy use and demands, adjust accordingly and to send alerts when inefficiencies occur. There are a lot of intelligent systems in a building, and leading energy management companies like Eaton is moving toward making a building a ‘system of systems’ and providing the dashboard and information customers need in order to operate their buildings more efficiently.
Even with a LEED-certified building people tend to overlook how much electricity is consumed as a result of lighting alone. This is especially true for buildings that need to be kept lit intensively, for up to 24 hours at a time.
Eaton worked with the Mumbai international airport, on their second terminal, which sees more than 40 million visitors annually and boasts unique features such as decorated carpets, an art museum, and bold designs. To create a cozier ambience, LED lighting was mounted on ceiling surfaces, coves and slots to provide indirect illumination to emphasise the terminal’s wall textures. This provided an ideal blend of energy efficient performance and enhanced aesthetic quality to the terminal’s already impressive architectural elements.
The company is also doing its part with its eco-friendly headquarters, located in one of China’s prime cities, Shanghai. The building is designed according to LEED gold certification standards and features many Eaton products, such as Pow-R-Command lighting controls, which automatically turn off lights when a space is empty and helps with energy savings of 10 to 30 percent, variable frequency drives that extend the lives of HVAC motors, Power Xpert software and meters that monitor energy usage and identify energy savings, energy efficient UPS products, as well as low volatile organic compounds paints on the walls, carpets, fabrics and materials, carbon dioxide monitors and sensors in all meeting rooms, low flow toilets, sinks and waterless urinals and natural and rapidly renewable bamboo flooring and wood veneers.
With a LEED certification program in place, businesses will be encouraged to take more responsibility when it comes to the environment. Although going green may cost slightly more upfront, greater adoption of green features will create a critical mass of demand for green building technologies and this will further drive down cost premiums of green buildings in the future. Brian Brickhouse from Eaton notes that innovative and eco-friendly infrastructure solutions must be deployed to help buildings achieve the high levels of energy efficiency required for intangible benefits like productivity, health and wellness. In consequence, investments into green infrastructure can translate to greater cost savings for businesses in the long term.