NC-v4 EAc5: Renewable energy production

  • Make renewables work for you

    Success in achieving this credit is all about balancing building energy performance with the spatial and renewable energy resources of the site—and balancing the upfront costs of renewable energy with long-term utility bill savings. 

    Teams should start by identifying an energy budget to estimate the size of the system needed to achieve each credit threshold. This target could be from CBECSThe Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) is a national sample survey that collects information on the stock of U.S. commercial buildings, their energy-related building characteristics, and their energy consumption and expenditures. Commercial buildings include all buildings in which at least half of the floorspace is used for a purpose that is not residential, industrial, or agricultural, so they include building types that might not traditionally be considered "commercial," such as schools, correctional institutions, and buildings used for religious worship. CBECS data is used in LEED energy credits., the ASHRAE baseline if early modeling has been conducted, or from an energy performance target. Reducing energy consumption as much as possible will make it much easier to achieve the percentage thresholds of this credit.

    Then, be sure to compare as many financial options and types of systems as possible to find what will work for the project. Don’t forget that the biggest benefit will be for the people paying the utility bills, and engage them to find the best approach. Many utilities have rebate programs that can help with financing.   

    What’s New in LEED v4

    • Solar gardens and community systems are now eligible for this credit, as long as the project will own or lease the system for at least ten years and it’s located in the same utility area. If your project owns a fraction of a community garden, then you can take credit for that fraction of production in this credit.
    • This is a great opportunity where onsite conditions aren’t good for renewables, or where taking on maintenance and operations might be out of reach for the occupant organization.
    • Credit thresholds are much more stringent than they were in LEED 2009. For all BD+C rating systems except CS, you won’t earn a second point until reaching 5% energy cost coverage, so be sure to plan targets accordingly.
    • The maximum threshold for CS projects has increased from 1% to 5%, to acknowledge the impacts that decisions in the CS stage can have on later building operations.

     

    FAQs

    My project will have a biofuel generator. Does that qualify?

    Maybe. It all depends on what you’re burning. In addition to the general type of fuel source, the credit rules prohibit the burning of fuels that may cause health issues, such as painted or treated wood or municipal solid waste. Forestry biomass waste must be mill residue only.

    Can I sell the RECs my system generates to help pay for the upfront costs?

    Projects must retain the environmental and financial benefits for the system in order to earn this credit. That said, you are allowed to sell the RECs associated with the renewable energy system. But if you chose to sell and still want to earn this credit, you’ll have to purchase RECs from a third-party to cover the ones you’ve sold. Depending on the market, this may or may not work out in your project’s favor. 

  • EA Credit 5: Renewable energy production

    Intent

    To reduce the environmental and economic harms associated with fossil fuel energy by increasing self-supply of renewable energy.

    Requirements

    Use renewable energy systems to offset building energy costs. Calculate the percentage of renewable energy with the following equation:

    % renewable energy = Equivalent cost of usable energy produced by the renewable energy system
    Total building annual energy cost



    Use the building’s annual energy cost, calculated in EA Prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance, if Option 1 was pursued; otherwise use the U.S. Department of Energy’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECSThe Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) is a national sample survey that collects information on the stock of U.S. commercial buildings, their energy-related building characteristics, and their energy consumption and expenditures. Commercial buildings include all buildings in which at least half of the floorspace is used for a purpose that is not residential, industrial, or agricultural, so they include building types that might not traditionally be considered "commercial," such as schools, correctional institutions, and buildings used for religious worship. CBECS data is used in LEED energy credits.) database to estimate energy use and cost.

    The use of solar gardens or community renewable energy systems is allowed if both of the following requirements are met.

    • The project owns the system or has signed a lease agreement for a period of at least 10 years.
    • The system is located with the same utility service area as the facility claiming the use.

    Credit is based on the percentage of ownership or percentage of use assigned in the lease agreement. Points are awarded according to Table 1.

    Table 1. Points for renewable energy

    Percentage renewable energy Points (except CS) Points (CS)
    1% 1 1
    3% 2
    5% 2 3
    10% 3



    Pilot ACPs Available

    The following pilot alternative compliance path is available for this credit. See the pilot credit library for more information.

    EApc95: Alternative Energy Performance Metric ACP
    EApc107 - Energy performance metering path
    EApc111: Alternative Performance Rating Method

Design Submittal

PencilDocumentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.

33 Comments

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Johanna Huddle Architectural Designer Cornerstone Architects
Aug 09 2017
Guest
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Utility Service Area

Project Location: United States

I'm confused as to the wording for solar gardens or community renewable energy systems (off-site): "The system is located with the same utility service area as the facility claiming the use."
Does this mean the location of the off-site system must be served by the same utility company as the one providing the service for the new LEED building?

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Aug 10 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

Yes

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juyew tang
Jul 18 2017
Guest

Renewable Energy Production - point calculation

hi, i am new with this LEED.
now i design for a new project.
under this NC-V4, EAC5, is the point award still based on the below table?

percentage of on-site renewable energy Energy sources that are not depleted by use. Examples include energy from the sun, wind, and small (low-impact) hydropower, plus geothermal energy and wave and tidal systems. LEED point
1% 1
3% 2
5% 3
7% 4
9% 5
11% 6
13% 7

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Jul 20 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

No that is the table for LEED v2009 projects. See the credit language for the LEED v4 point scale.

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Lai-San wong
Jun 13 2017
Guest

Wind-PPA as renewable energy production?

Project Location: Sweden

Hi!
In the requirement for EAc5 (BD+C) it is stated:
"The use of solar gardens or community renewable energy systems is allowed if both of the following requirements are met.
1)The project owns the system or has signed a lease agreement for a period of at least 10 years.
2) The system is located with the same utility service area as the facility claiming the use."
Can you get credits from a Wind-PPA? And what does it mean with "the same utility service area"? Is there any specific distance for off site wind-PPA (like kilometres / Miles)?

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Dianne Herrin Vice President Practical Energy Solutions
Mar 16 2017
LEEDuser Member
265 Thumbs Up

Credits in addition to Optimize Energy Performance?

Project Location: United States

Hi - Our solar system is adding two points to our "optimize energy performance" category due to the cost offset. Can I also claim additional points for renewable energy production based on the % of total energy(costs) my solar array is producing? In our case, this will total 3 points in the renewable energy production category, plus one additional regional priority point. I want to be sure I can claim all of these points and this not considered double-dipping by LEED. Thank you.

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Mar 17 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

You can, and are encouraged to, apply this to both credits.

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David Eldridge Project Manager, Grumman/Butkus Associates Mar 17 2017 LEEDuser Member 1046 Thumbs Up

Many credits interact constructively which encourages these items, especially with energy performance.

In some cases there may be mutual exclusion - but it isn't meant to be "tricky" - if something counts positively in multiple areas of the checklist then good for the project, it's part of a holistic approach.

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Ydo Schuuring Specialist Building Physics,Acoustics and Sustainability DGMR Consultancy
Feb 03 2017
Guest
5 Thumbs Up

ATES in combination with HP

Project Location: Netherlands

We would like achieve points for the credit: Renewable Energy Production. The design team is considering an Aquifer Therma Energy Storage (ATES) in combination with a heatpump.
Does this combination of system forfils the requirements of the credit Renewable Energy Production:
"Geothermal energy, such as electricity generated from subterranean steam or heat generated from subterranean steam or hot water, is eligible. However, geothermal energy used in conjunction with vapor compression cycles, as in a ground-source heat pumpA type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source., is not"?

Thank you,
Ydo

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Feb 04 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

You have a heat pumpA type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source. moving the heat back and forth so it is not eligible.

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David Eldridge Project Manager, Grumman/Butkus Associates Mar 17 2017 LEEDuser Member 1046 Thumbs Up

The inclusion of the heat pumpA type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source. makes it seem unlikely. A ground source heat pumpA type of heat pump that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the groundwater to heat and/or cool a building. The earth has the ability to absorb and store heat energy from the sun. To use that stored energy, heat is extracted from the earth through a liquid medium (groundwater or an anti-freeze solution) and is pumped to the heat pump or heat exchanger. There, the heat is used to heat the building. In the summer, the process is reversed and indoor heat is extracted from the building and transferred to the earth through the liquid. The geothermal heat pump is more efficient than an air-source heat pump. Also referred to as a "closed-loop" system. would not be considered renewable energy by LEED.

If you were continually drawing heat energy or cooling energy from the aquifer then that portion of the energy may have an argument - the explicit language is only for drawing hot water, but drawing cooling could also be seen as a parallel activity - but the energy to run the compressor is treated as conventional and would seem to disqualify the project, unless you can elaborate on the configuration you are proposing.

Seasonal operation would seem to make the answer "no" unfortunately.

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Borja Sánchez Architect gesHAB
Jan 31 2017
Guest
5 Thumbs Up

Production of renewable energy but sent to the grid

Hi, I´d like to know what happens when the project owner also owns a PV systems on the project boundary but it´s not been used on the same building and sends all the production to the grid (selling it). In this particularly context it´s because project owner also buys renewable energy from an utility and for so he has no need to attend to demand-consumption balance.

Is this project elegible for this credit?

Green Power and Carbon Offsets credit it´s also pursued because green energy it´s been purchased.

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Feb 04 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

Probably. The requirements would be similar to a solar garden described in the credit language. The RECs must also be retained or replaced. The owner must provide a document which allocates some or all of the power produced to this project.

Depending on the arrangement the green power portion may be satisfied. Carbon offsets would need to be purchased for an on-site fossil fuel usage.

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Borja Sánchez Architect, gesHAB Feb 08 2017 Guest 5 Thumbs Up

Thank you for your help, Marcus. My doubt comes because there is not an arrangement that directly links the production of the PV system with the purchase of green energy to the utility, I mean, if the owner wants he can buy electricity to another utility (that is fossil fuel based for example) but he would be still selling the electricity produced by the PV system.

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Feb 08 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

The electrons do not have to flow directly to the building. This is mostly a paper transaction. As long as you can document the PV production and predict the building consumption while meeting the other criteria you should be able to claim it.

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SOHA YAMANI LEED Projects Coordinator Sustainable Solutions
Dec 19 2016
Guest
858 Thumbs Up

Third party in renewable energy

I am reading the below paragraph from the reference guide and i don't quite understand it , as it is really confused with the Green power credit? how come using offiste renewable energy be considered for renewable energy creditA tradable commodity representing proof that a unit of electricity was generated from a renewable resource. RECs are sold separately from electricity itself and thus allow the purchase of green power by a user of conventionally generated electricity. ?

Some renewable energy systems that use fuels produced off site (e.g., landfill gas) can still be eligible to receive
points under this credit. In such a case, the project team must provide documentation showing the following:
·· The project has a minimum 10-year contract with the fuel provider.
·· The contract with the fuel provider includes both the fuel and all associated RECs.
·· If the fuel provider does not also provide RECs, the project must purchase offsets for 100% of the renewable
energy produced in the form of RECs every year for at least 10 years.
In some cases, renewable energy may be available from equipment, such as a PV array or wind turbine, owned by
a third party, whether on or off site. Project teams wishing to receive credit for such an arrangement must submit
documentation, including the agreement between the project owner and the power producer. The power purchase
agreement must last for at least 10 years, and the project owner must retain all environmental benefits from the
renewable energy.

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Dec 22 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

Offsite renewables have been allowed due to proximity and ownership issues for quite some time in LEED. It came about due to LEED Interpretations by projects that owned or leased renewable systems not physically located on the project site such as a campus situation or a school district. Other projects were located close enough to a landfill to use the methane directly and this is better than flaring it or allowing the methane to go to atmosphere. The rules are easier to understand in a specific example.

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SOHA YAMANI LEED Projects Coordinator, Sustainable Solutions Dec 22 2016 Guest 858 Thumbs Up

Thank You Marcus for clarification , so now if a project owns PV arrays or any other form of renewable energy in a campus or so, and they are directly connected to the building electricity Grid , does this count twice once for renewable energy creditA tradable commodity representing proof that a unit of electricity was generated from a renewable resource. RECs are sold separately from electricity itself and thus allow the purchase of green power by a user of conventionally generated electricity. and once for green power credit?

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Dec 22 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

It can is you can provide 100% of your power needs. If it is less than 100% then you need to provide green power/offsets for the difference.

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SOHA YAMANI LEED Projects Coordinator, Sustainable Solutions Dec 22 2016 Guest 858 Thumbs Up

I can Target 50% only for one point i guess without the need for 100% ?

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Dec 22 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

Yes then you need half of the remainder. To determine how much green power you need to buy you first subtract your on/off site renewables. For the remainder you can buy additional green power to earn the green power credit.

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Gabriela Crespo CxA, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Revitaliza Consultores Apr 21 2017 Guest 395 Thumbs Up

Under these conditions, would offsite Renewable Energy count towards savings for the credit Optimize Energy Performance? Is there a limit on how farFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters). away the Renewable Energy production system can be located from the project?

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Apr 21 2017 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

If it counts for this credit it also counts for Optimize Energy Performance.

The issue of proximity is not usually related to distance. A PV system, for example, must be located within the same utility service territory.

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Anne Caminade Project manager Lemon Consult AG
Dec 08 2016
Guest
2 Thumbs Up

Renewables outside LPB & owned by Project - Campus or no Campus?

Project Location: Switzerland

Hi, We have a new small building on a large industrial site in Switzerland (same owner for the entire site) that we want to certify with LEED Gold (only the new small building) and we have no space within the LEED Project Boundary for incorportaing renewables. We can definitely install a PV array on the building next to it and used it for our project (while retaining the RECs / not selling them on). If the Project Owner owns the PV array (not a third party where I would do a lease agreement for 10 years) can I count these points without having to consider a LEED Campus approach for it and also for all other Campus-Approach eligible credits (like Site selection, outdoor water use etc.)?
We do not have the budget to evaluate the Campus wide credits and cannot really go down this route...
Thanks in advance for your help!

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Dec 08 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

You can count it. There is amply precedence for allowing off-site renewables to count as on-site. Note the new credit language about solar gardens. This would cover the system you describe.

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Sara Johansson LEED® AP O+M Sweco Systems
Nov 10 2016
Guest
42 Thumbs Up

Akvifer

Project Location: Sweden

Hello,

We have a project located in Sweden. Does an akvifer that stores heating and cooling count as renewable energy? The akvifer has two sides - a cold and a warm. Exessive heat from the buildings equipment is thrown down in the akvifer ("loading" it and storing for the winter). Outside air cools the cold side of the akvifer ("loading" it and storing for the summer).

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Nov 10 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

The source for making the heating and cooling must be renewable. Sounds more like heat recovery on the heating side. On the cooling side is sounds sort of renewable but I assume that there is some sort of equipment that transfers the cool to the aquifer from the outside air. So in both cases you are probably using grid electricity to move the heating and cooling. In this way it is similar to groundsource heat pumps which are not considered renewable.

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Gray Bender Arup
Sep 29 2016
Guest
26 Thumbs Up

Solar PV Array Ownership

Hello,

I have a question about the ownership of a solar PV array, and how that effects this and any other credit. LEED adds additional requirements when a power purchase agreement (PPA) is in place, but I'm curious in particular about the use of a public-private partnership (PPP).

Unlike a PPA, a PPP allows our client to maintain ownership of their PV array while using an outside private entity as a financial lender. As I understand it, this is similar to purchasing a house, where the individual retains ownership of the house but has to pay a mortgage to a bank.

Would this ownership structure have any affects on the Renewable Energy Energy sources that are not depleted by use. Examples include energy from the sun, wind, and small (low-impact) hydropower, plus geothermal energy and wave and tidal systems. Production credit? Or would it simply maintain the same requirements as a PPA?

Thank you,
Gray

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Sep 29 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

I don't think so. Even if they borrow the money to pay for the system they would "own" it. Just make sure they retain the RECs or replace them.

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Helena Garcia Bioconstruction Green Building Management
Jul 01 2016
Guest
31 Thumbs Up

Aerothermal Energy

Project Location: Spain

We're designing a system based on renewable energy installation for new construction. A part of this installation would performed by aerotermal energy. In the LEED reference guide, Aerothermal energy doesn't appear in the list of possible energies.

Does LEED accept the aerothermal energy?

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Jul 01 2016 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

No. Groundsource heat pumps don't count either.

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LEEDme STRATEGIE SRL STRATEGIE SRL
Sep 11 2014
Guest
463 Thumbs Up

energy used on-site vs sold energy

I’m reading the new version of the reference guide and I have some doubts concerning this credit.
As example, within the LEED boundary electricity is produced by pv panels. Part of the electricity is used onsite, while when the produced energy is more than the needed energy a part is sold. The owner of the pv system is also the owner of the building.
Can the project team consider for the achievement of the credit both the renewable energy used onsite and the sold renewable energy? Only if RECs are purchased for an amount equal to the total renewable energy produced (used onsite + sold)?

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Marcus Sheffer LEED Fellow, 7group Sep 11 2014 LEEDuser Expert 70527 Thumbs Up

Yes the entire production of the PV system counts. You need to retain the RECs and can't sell the periodic excess power for a premium (it must be at the same rate that you pay for the electricity you buy).

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Aug 18 2017
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