Green Building Certification: “LEED” by Example

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world – available for new builds, updates, interior designs, and virtually all other types of building projects. Natural daylighting systems are recognized by LEED for their energy efficiency, durability, and their wellness benefits. You may be wondering whether daylight solutions can really help your development achieve or bolster its LEED certification. But how will daylighting architectural daylighting systems work in your building?

How Daylight Lighting Systems Fit Into LEED

The LEED green building rating system encapsulates all aspects of planning, design, construction, and demolition – as well as buildings’ daily operations. It focuses on issues such as energy use, indoor environmental quality, material selection, site, and location. Many of these elements are directly impacted by daylighting systems for buildings. Recognizing best practices, LEED rewards innovation and exemplary projects through its different levels of certification. Using daylighting sources can halve daytime electricity use and reduce total electricity consumption by 13 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The energy needed for daytime cooling is also lowered in warmer temperatures. Projects seeking LEED certification can earn up to three EQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) credits through the use of daylighting systems. Cost efficient to build, with little to no maintenance required, daylighting systems often offer a comparatively easy win for architects and engineers focused on LEED certification.

Achieving Daylighting Credits For LEED

The arrival of the new LEED v4 Daylight Credit in 2018 has helped to bring a new level of “sophistication” to the use of natural daylight solutions in building design. The credit aims to connect occupants to the outdoors, reinforce their circadian rhythms, and reduce the use of electrical lighting. A development’s daylighting system can achieve 1 to 3 points, depending on whether 55%, 75%, or 90% of an occupied space receives 300+ lux of daylight for at least 50% of annual occupied hours. For completely new construction, this is measured through computer simulation, which is accurate down to climate-specific variability in hourly sky conditions to predict the level of light available at different times in the year. As the ratings suggest, in optimal conditions, daylight products can ensure a commercial workspace is occupied largely during daylight hours, and can use virtually no electric lighting, for much of the year. This means that as well as saving considerable money on energy bills, daylighting can be the missing ingredient to net zero buildings. It is pollution free, uses no electricity, and requires minimal maintenance.

Case Study: The National Guard Readiness Center In Arden Hills, MN

Daylight Specialists installed Solatube daylighting systems at the National Guard Readiness Center in Arden Hills. The Army National Guard needs to be ready to respond to a range of disasters, from natural disasters to military conflicts. The new home for the 150,000-square-foot 34th Infantry Division in Arden Hills, Minnesota, designed by the Minneapolis office of Leo A Daly, is two stories with one-story wings. The daylit administrative wing is a workspace for full-time personnel. The opposite wing houses the Guard’s logistical needs including equipment storage and distribution.

The architectural design centered around efficiency and resilience, in line with the old requirements of LEED Gold certification. The facility houses less than 60 full-time personnel on a daily basis but, in certain situations, there can be more than 700 people in the building. A central challenge was being able to adapt to this fluctuating occupancy.

In this context, the benefits of architectural daylighting systems are multi-faceted. In addition to the health and wellness angle, the environmental and financial benefits play into the project’s central focus on efficiency and support the LEED Gold certification. Daylight lighting products are at the forefront of green building technologies. Using daylighting systems reduces a building’s carbon footprint considerably and can go a long way toward helping government buildings comply with LEED certification. Commercial developers can benefit greatly from installing daylighting in new build and retrofit projects alike.

Daylighting can play a vital role in meeting your project’s LEED certification and other green initiatives. Daylight Specialists partners with the U.S. Green Building Council – the body that oversees LEED certification. We are well versed in the codes and regulations and have helped many building projects achieve LEED status. We are here to support design professionals and retrofitters pursuing green initiatives – get in touch today to find out how we can help!