ASHRAE Headquarters goes Platinum with LEED NC Certification

CSE Chief Editor Michael Ivanovich asks ASHRAE about the performance of its recently certified, LEED Platinum ASHRAE Headquarters.



ASHRAE has been awarded a LEED Platinum Certification of their new headquarters building in Atlanta under the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC's) LEED for New Construction (LEED NC v2.2) rating system. A platinum rating is the highest level of certification that can be earned under LEED. The Society's office building underwent a major renovation project in 2008.

On attaining LEED Platinum, ASHRAE President Gordon Holness said:

"It is extremely gratifying to achieve the USGBC's highest rating and confirm ASHRAE's leadership and commitment to supporting a sustainable built environment."

Supporting ASHRAE's accomplishment, Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, USGBC, said:

"The strength of USGBC has always been the collective strength of our leaders in the building industry. Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role of the building industry in that effort, ASHRAE demonstrates their leadership through their LEED Platinum certification of their renovated Headquarters."

Since engineers are increasingly asking about the performance of green buildings that have received design certifications ( October MEP Roundtable discusses this ), CSE asked ASHRAE to report on how well the building has been performing since it was occupied.

Amanda Dean, public relation specialist, ASHRAE, responded via email:

"The short answer is that the ASHRAE headquarters' building is still a work in progress operationally, but steadily improving in functionality and energy performance. When we moved back into the building in late July of last year, the building appeared on the surface to be complete, functional, and most occupants were satisfied with their new work environment; most building owners would be satisfied and would stop at this point - not ASHRAE.

Below the surface, we discovered a lot of issues through the on-going building commissioning process and building monitoring system that were or continue to degrade the performance of the building. Some of the issues include faulty sensors, errors in the installation of equipment and in monitored point set-up configurations, system control interface problems, non-optimized operating sequences and schedules, and equipment failures, and leaks. With three separate mechanical systems in the building and over 5,000 monitored points in our BAS, this has and continues to be a challenge to complete, particularly the time and effort it takes to resolve problems that involve multiple systems and equipment donors given the down-turn in the economy and limited resources for all concerned.

Looking at building energy performance from another perspective, our consumption for the month of Sept. is down 22% when compared with the year earlier; This is a significant improvement, but the improvement for that month would have been even larger had it not been for a small glitch in a recent change to the control programming for the building make-up air unit. The glitch caused the unit to run at a near continuous 20 kW rate when the building was in unoccupied mode for two weeks until this problem was discovered and corrected. In order to reach the model predicted level for the month of Sept., building energy consumption needs to be reduced approximately 30% from the Sept. 2009 level. We think this reduction is still possible given what we know about the building and its systems right now.

Responding to this, Michael Ivanovich, editor-in-chief, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, stated that:

"Engineers will be interested in this type of information. Every new building or significant renovation is a work in progress... as errors are resolved and seasonal tuning is completed. It is exciting that ASHRAE has these ongoing commissioning systems in place, and that their value is proving out."


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