Using Air Filters to get Points for LEED Certification

Buildings pursuing LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification need to evaluate many things, including energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. Choosing the right air filters can be an integral part of a building’s environmental sustainability strategy. In fact, implementing the right HVAC strategy could net you up to 11 LEED credits. In addition to contributing to the completion of LEED credits and prerequisites, careful selection of the right HVAC filters can actually save money in the long run – answering critics’ charges that green buildings always have to cost more.

There are five categories for LEED Certification, but we will only touch on two of them here – the LEED rating system applicable to building operations and maintenance (LEED-OM) and the LEED rating system applicable to new commercial construction and major renovation projects (LEED-NC) In both cases, the applicant project must satisfactorily document achievement of all the prerequisites and a minimum number of points to achieve the desired certification.

For LEED-OM, the following table contains a brief listing of the ways in which proper air filter utilization can contribute to LEED certification.

Rating Category Points Available Suggested Air Filtration Strategy
Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite: Energy Efficiency Best Management Practices Required Document & follow a preventative
Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite: Minimum Energy Performance Required Quantify the energy implications of various filter selections. Contact Filtration Group HVAC for help to calculate energy costs.
Energy & Atmosphere Credit: Existing Building Commissioning – Analysis 2 Perform a life cycle cost analysis and energy analysis on the HVAC filtration system
Energy & Atmosphere Credit: Existing Building Commissioning – Implementation 2 Choose air filters with lower resistance to air flow (such as Filtration Group’s FP v-bank filters), then follow an optimized changeout schedule
Energy & Atmosphere Credit: Ongoing Commissioning 3 Implement a control system to monitor air flow and static pressure at the filters, to target the best changeout cycle
Energy & Atmosphere Credit: Optimize Energy Performance 1-20 Include HVAC energy performance data in the benchmark comparison against comparable buildings
Materials & Resources Prerequisite: Facility Maintenance & Renovation Policy Required Install Filtration Group NOVApleat or Series 400 Pleated air filters at each return air grille that is used during construction. Replace all of these filters and flush out the space prior to occupancy
Materials & Resources Credit: Purchasing – Ongoing 1 Use extended-life filters (such as Filtration Group’s Enduro-Pleat and FP v-bank filters to reduce change outs and minimize waste generated while minimizing energy consumption
Indoor Environmental Quality Credit: Indoor Air Quality Management Program 2 Include all air filters in the I-BEAM-based IAQ management program & follow an optimized changeout schedule
Indoor Environmental Quality Credit: Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies 2 Utilize MERV 13 GreenPleat filters for all systems supplying outdoor air to occupied spaces and follow an optimized changeout schedule
Total Points Available 13-32

For LEED-NC, we will look at a specific example – the Duke Energy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina (USA), a 54-story office building. For this project, the owner demanded that the building design achieve a LEED Platinum certification; the best rating possible. The owner also demanded that the Indoor Air Quality Procedure from ASHRAE Standard 62.1 (IAQP) be used for capital equipment cost savings and for an ongoing reduction in HVAC system operating costs. To achieve these seemingly conflicting demands, the LEED consultant created an HVAC system that was designed using the Ventilation Rate Procedure (VRP) from ASHRAE Standard 62.1, but was to be operated using the IAQP Procedure (IAQP).

Because the size of heating and cooling systems could not be reduced using the VRP, the design team decide to go for a LEED point under IEQ Credit 2: Increased Ventilation and designing the HVAC system to deliver 30% more outdoor air than would be normally required. They would design for the higher outdoor air ventilation rates required under the VRP and IEQ Credit 2, but operate at much lower rates allowable under the IAQP – a reduction of almost 75%!

Because the size of heating and cooling systems could not be reduced using the VRP, the design team decide to go for a LEED point under IEQ Credit 2: Increased Ventilation and designing the HVAC system to deliver 30% more outdoor air than would be normally required. They would design for the higher outdoor air ventilation rates required under the VRP and IEQ Credit 2, but operate at much lower rates allowable under the IAQP – a reduction of almost 75%!

  • Energy and Atmosphere: Credit 1 (2 points),
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: Credit 2 and Credit 5 (2 points), and
  • Innovation in Design: Credit 1 and Credit 2 (2 points),

Which ultimately helped earn a LEED Platinum certification for the owners.

Need help with LEED Certification? 

By Phil Winters and Chris Muller

This entry was posted in Filtration Group HVAC, Purafil and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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