Pick up the phone, call the local utility and a couple of green power providers—companies that sell renewable energy credits (RECs), which provide funding to renewable energy generation, supporting its development. Give them your project’s estimated energy consumption. Sit back and receive estimates.
That’s all it takes to find out what a purchase of offsite renewable energy will cost, so be sure to consider it—you might be pleasantly surprised. The credit requires you to offset only a percentage of your electricity consumption with RECs to earn points (see diagram at right). You can make a stronger environmental statement and earn an extra Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. point through IDc1 by offsetting 70% (100% for CI projects).
Some building owners may hesitate to pursue this credit because they don’t believe that the extra cost brings a direct, tangible benefit to their building.
RECs must be Green-e certified or the equivalent. Center for Resource Solutions
However, nonrenewable electricity production is a huge contributor to pollution and global climate change1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)
2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among the predicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers., and buying green power creates incentives for further development of renewable energy facilities. The benefits of renewable energy are well-understood by the general public, and so buying green power can help you advertise your commitment to environmental responsibility. Many projects display their renewable energy certificates prominently.
Many projects see this credit as low-hanging fruit, and may pursue it depending on how many points they need to achieve their LEED goals. Because the credit focuses exclusively on electricity (not natural gas, propane, or fuel oil) it is usually very affordable.
Many utilities offer a green power option for their customers, typically from renewable sources within your region. Instead of buying RECs from a third party, you can quickly get set up to buy the RECs based on a premium charge per kilowatt-hour that you consume.
The market for renewable energy credits (RECs) has exploded in recent years, but RECs are still an abstract entity that can be difficult to define.
For buildings that can’t generate onsite renewable power or purchase it through a regional utility, but still want to promote renewable energy, RECs (sometimes called “green tags” or “tradable renewable certificates”) allow customers to continue to buy the same grid-supplied power, while also buying the environmental attributes of electricity produced by a renewable source. (The actual renewably generated electricity is sold separately to the grid for market price as normal power, while your REC purchase helps deliver extra revenue that helps make renewable energy production financially feasible.) To ensure quality, LEED requires you to purchase RECs certified by Green-e, a third-party program, or an equivalent certification program.
You can buy RECs from specific regions of the country, and even from specific renewable energy projects, or project types (like wind or solar). Buying RECs from a specific source can increase the cost a bit, but also helps bring this intangible commodity down to earth.
The Bear Creek Wind Farm in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania, with 12 Garnesa 2.0 MW turbines, was developed in 2005 by Community Energy, which sells renewable energy credits (RECs) from the project. Photo – Community Energy, Inc.
RECs, along with carbon offsets, which are similar, have come under criticism. This is largely due to the perception that they allow a person or a business to go on with business as usual, consuming as much fossil fuel as usual, and then simply write a check to assuage their guilt, without producing tangible environmental benefit.
There is validity to these concerns, which are best countered by conserving energy through high-performance building design and location (earning other EA and SS points in LEED), generating renewable energy onsite if possible, and then buying RECs only as a last step. Focusing on energy conservation first has the side benefit of making the ultimate purchase of RECs more affordable, because you have less consumption to offset.
You can buy RECs from either source.
Your simplest course of action is to buy any Green-e RECs available on the open market, including those in the U.S. There is no requirement for your RECs to be from your country. If you prefer to buy RECs from a project closer to home, you can see if there are RECs available that are certified to a standard that is equivalent to Green-e. This is less common, but has been done.
Correct—you can't rely on your national standard in this case. The Green-e Standard exists to make sure that there is no double counting in the market and clearly addresses the voluntary market only. These fundamental issue of accounting and additionality are at the core of LEED's adoption of such a standard to define quality green power products.
Yes, as confirmed by LEED InterpretationLEED Interpretations are official answers to technical inquiries about implementing LEED on a project. They help people understand how their projects can meet LEED requirements and provide clarity on existing options. LEED Interpretations are to be used by any project certifying under an applicable rating system. All project teams are required to adhere to all LEED Interpretations posted before their registration date. This also applies to other addenda. Adherence to rulings posted after a project registers is optional, but strongly encouraged. LEED Interpretations are published in a searchable database at usgbc.org. #10219 posted on 7/1/2012, if the project produces 100% or more of its electricity as onsite renewable electricity, the project can earn the credit plus an EP point. However, you also need to take steps to ensure that if the as-built project does not turn out to be net-zero, that the appropriate quantity of RECs will be purchased to meet the credit threshold. See the LEED Interpretation for these details.
All electricity used by the project is the basis for the green power purchase.
Yes. Provide evidence of the quantity and term purchase for the campus along with an explanation of how the green power has been or will be allocated as applicable. If any of this purchase has been allocated to a previous LEED project state how much and provide a letter allocating the quantity needed to this project.
You can document this credit as late as when you submit your clarifications for the construction review. You can even do it after that, and before you accept your final certification, but you'll have to pay an appeal fee.
The owner will need to buy additional RECs to meet the threshold.
Discuss with your team the possibility of purchasing green power.
You have three options for earning this credit. The best and most cost-effective option for your project will depend on your location and the offerings of the local utility.
Most projects find it easiest to go with the third option, and shop around for the best deal on RECs. Others, however, have found it best to purchase through their local utility when they can get a better bundle deal and feel like the purchase is more tangible, so do some research.
This is one LEED credit that you can do at the last minute. However, if you are renting or selling space in your building, you may want to use the purchase of green power as a marketing tool and will not want to wait until the last minute to make the purchase.
Many projects see this credit as one for which you pay but don’t receive a tangible benefit. However, nonrenewable electricity production is a huge contributor to pollution and global climate change, and buying green power supports the development of renewable energy facilities.
The amount of green power that you need to purchase for the credit is based on the quantity of electricity consumed, not the cost of the electricity. If your project is pursuing EAc1: Optimize Energy Performance through energy modeling, your focus is on reduction in cost, not quantity, so note the difference when doing calculations for this credit. For guidance on the calculations, see the LEEDuser strategy on step-by-step green power calculations.
If the owner is a corporation or a school district with a portfolio of multiple buildings, consider purchasing green power through a bulk agreement and allocating it to different projects. You will need to avoid “double-dipping,” where more than one project or tenant space uses the same green power allotment.
If your green power provider does not supply Green-e accredited energy, it must have an equivalent accreditation. To qualify as an equivalent accreditation, a program must meet the requirements for renewable resources as detailed by Green-e, and the supplier must have undergone an annual third-party verification process equivalent to the Green-e process. You might want to take this route if your utility provider can provide the best rate.
You can choose to purchase two years’ worth of green power at occupancy, rather than pay monthly or yearly. In this case, you would purchase double the percentage of assumed annual electricity consumption to satisfy the credit’s two-year commitment. For example, a LEED-NC or Schools project would purchase 70% (or more) of the assumed annual electricity consumption.
Projects pursuing this credit with a district energy system should refer to the USGBC’s District Thermal Energy Treatment document for specific considerations.
Some universities and large companies have already decided to purchase green power and therefore your project may not have to pay for it directly. Consult with the owner to see if this is already happening and you can use previously allocated funds rather than project funds. You will need to make sure there is no “double-dipping”.
The lower your building’s energy use, the less you pay for this credit (because you have less electrical power use to offset). Explore cost-effective ways of reducing electrical energy consumption in order to reduce the cost of green power.
Calculate a rough estimate of the cost for purchasing green power based on the default numbers found in the LEED Reference Guide or through DOE’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey database (see the table at right). See the LEEDuser strategy on step-by-step green power calculations and follow the steps for default electricity consumption calculations.
Green power prices can fluctuate like other utility prices. If you think prices may rise by the time the project is completed, lock in a low price by signing a contract anytime prior to occupancy.
Running estimated calculations early in the design stage will help to give you a better understanding of how much the credit might cost. Just keep in mind that the cost may change once the energy usage is further defined as part of your calculations for EAp2 and EAc1: Optimize Energy Performance. If you are using an energy model per Option 1 of EAc1, the cost of RECs might change if alterations to the energy model are required after the LEED design review, but the change should be minimal.
Especially if your project is very energy efficient, you will probably be able to pay less for green power based on your energy model than you would using the default values from CBECS.
Continue to seek strategies that lower the building’s electrical energy use in order to subsequently reduce the cost of green power.
Call several green power providers to get a preliminary estimate of the cost to buy green power for 35% of the assumed, actual or default electricity consumption. While you’re at it, also get an estimate for buying 70% green power and earning a point for exemplary performance or really go for it with 100%. Find green power providers on EPA’s Green Power Partnership website or the Green-e website. See the Resources section for links to their websites.
Green power is a competitive market with price variation. Obtain more than one estimate to find less-expensive options.
Some projects choose to attempt this credit at the last minute and keep it as a “back-pocket” credit. For example, you may decide to go for this credit only if it helps you reach another level of LEED certification. A contract can be arranged at the last minute, and can even be submitted after the first construction review.
This credit requires only a few minutes to make phone calls, provide the size of the project and energy consumption, and get estimates. It is well worth the time and effort to determine the likely cost.
Determine electricity use based on one of the following options:
If you are using energy modeling, get a final estimate of the cost based on final model outputs. Remember that this credit is based on the quantity of electricity consumption (usually in kWh), not cost.
Sign a contract with the chosen green power provider.
Submit documentation to LEED Online. This will include filling out the LEED Online credit form, which requires a number of inputs on total electrical consumption (or default values) and details on the green power purchased. You will also need to upload a proof of purchase for two years of green power—see the Documentation Toolkit for an example.
If you do not purchase two years of green power at occupancy, you will need to continue to pay monthly or yearly for two years.
After two years, consider continuing to pay for green power. Doing so can help projects that are pursuing LEED-EBOM certification via EAc4.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations
To encourage the development and use of grid-source, renewable energy technologies on a net zero pollution basis.
Engage in at least a 2-year renewable energy contract to provide at least 35% of the building’s electricity from renewable sources, as defined by the Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-eGreen-e is a program established by the Center for Resource Solutions to both promote green electricity products and provide consumers with a rigorous and nationally recognized method to identify those products. Energy product certification requirements or an equivalent [Europe ACP: Green Power] [South America ACP: Green Power] [India ACP: Green Power]
All purchases of green power shall be based on the quantity of energy consumed, not the cost.
If the green power is not Green-e Energy certified, equivalence must exist for both major Green-e Energy program criteria: 1) current green power performance standards, and 2) independent, third-party verification that those standards are being met by the green power supplier over time.
Use the annual electricity consumption from the results of EA Credit 1: Optimize Energy Performance.
Use the U.S. Department of Energy’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey database to determine the estimated electricity use.
School districts can purchase green power on a centralized basis and allocate the green power to a specific project. However, the same power cannot be credited to another LEED project. Submit a letter from the company owner attesting to this.
Projects in Europe may use the following approved standards in place of Green-e Energy:
Projects in South America may use the Brazilian “Certificado de Energia Renovável” (Renewable Energy Certificate) with additional parameters in place of Green-e Energy.
You may use the LEED v4 version of this credit on v2009 projects. For more information check out this article.
Determine the energy needs of the building and investigate opportunities to engage in a green power contract. Green power is derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass or low-impact hydro sources. Visit www.green-e.org/energy for details about the Green-e Energy program. The green power product purchased to comply with credit requirements need not be Green-e Energy certified. Other sources of green power are eligible if they satisfythe Green-e Energy program’s technical requirements. Renewable energy certificates (RECs), tradable renewable certificates (TRCs), green tags and other forms of green power that comply with the technical requirements of the Green-e Energy program may be used to document compliance with this credit.
Use this website to determine the default energy consumption rates by building type.
This website provides information on pricing, marketing, and purchasing green power, as well as news and information.
EPA’s Green Power Partnership provides assistance and recognition to organizations that demonstrate environmental leadership by choosing green power. It includes a buyer’s guide with lists of green power providers in each state.
Search for green power or carbon offsetA fiscal unit measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) representing six main categories of greenhouse gases. Aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, one carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases). Carbon offsets are typically purchased by consumers of fossil fuels or products using fossil fuels, as a way to "offset" or negate their negative environmental impact. providers by location. Understand Green-eGreen-e is a program established by the Center for Resource Solutions to both promote green electricity products and provide consumers with a rigorous and nationally recognized method to identify those products. standards to demonstrate equivalency.
The Low Impact Hydropower Institute is a non-profit organization and certification body that establishes criteria against which to judge the environmental impacts of hydropower projects in the United States.
This document is USGBC’s second (v2.0) major release of guidance for district or campus thermal energy in LEED, and is a unified set of guidance comprising the following an update to the original Version 1.0 guidance released May 2008 for LEED v2.x and the initial release of formal guidance for LEED v2009.
RECA Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is a certificate representing proof that a given unit of electricity was generated from a renewable energy source such as solar or wind. These certificates are able to be sold, traded, or bartered as environmental commodities, where an electricity consumer can buy the renewable energy attributes of electricty to support renewable energy, even if they are consuming generic grid-supplied electricity that may be supplied by nonrenewable sources. vendors often offer different REC products and pricing based on the type of renewable energy generation (such as solar or wind) and the geographical location of the generation, as shown in this sample pricing table prepared for a LEED-NC project.
You will need to execute a contract like this sample to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs), and then upload it to LEED Online to verify credit compliance.
Sample LEED Online forms for all rating systems and versions are available on the USGBC website.
Documentation for this credit is part of the Construction Phase submittal.
I'm working on net zero LEED Gold Middle School and I was wondering if it would be possible to get the points for this credit (and maybe more for exemplary performanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements.) by selling excess on site renewable energy back to the utility instead of purchasing recA Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is a certificate representing proof that a given unit of electricity was generated from a renewable energy source such as solar or wind. These certificates are able to be sold, traded, or bartered as environmental commodities, where an electricity consumer can buy the renewable energy attributes of electricty to support renewable energy, even if they are consuming generic grid-supplied electricity that may be supplied by nonrenewable sources.'s. The pv system is designed to generate enough electricity to more than off-set the electricity usage of the school.
See this recent LEED InterpretationLEED Interpretations are official answers to technical inquiries about implementing LEED on a project. They help people understand how their projects can meet LEED requirements and provide clarity on existing options. LEED Interpretations are to be used by any project certifying under an applicable rating system. All project teams are required to adhere to all LEED Interpretations posted before their registration date. This also applies to other addenda. Adherence to rulings posted after a project registers is optional, but strongly encouraged. LEED Interpretations are published in a searchable database at usgbc.org. that allows net zero project to earn these two points without making a green power purchase.
EAc6: Green Power - 7/1/2012 ID# 10219
Our project had a combined review and the reviewer questioned hydro
RECs purchased by the owner as not being Green -e or equivalent.
The owner will purchase additional Green-eGreen-e is a program established by the Center for Resource Solutions to both promote green electricity products and provide consumers with a rigorous and nationally recognized method to identify those products. certified RECs from the same
company in addition to the former. Therefore will enter into a new contract
beginning now, before we submit the final response. This should satisfy the requirements for the credit correct? ( the contract start date is not an issue? but rather the duration and amount? correct?).... Thanks Suzy
You can purchase additional or replacement RECs in between the review phases and the start date will not be an issue.
Green Power is listed throughout the credit as the total electricity consumption of the building, yet the credit (EAc6) is performing the calculation from table 2-10 in the Energy Model from EAp2, Total Energy Use on a project, which takes into account propane, natural gas and other fuels. Is there a way to have it be based only on the electrical consumption as it reads in the text?
We have already bought the green power based on the electricity consumption, therefore our number is low, any thoughts?
Make sure you are using the latest version of the form. See the sample downloads in LEED Online. Project teams may request a form upgrade through the feedback button in LEED Online v3. Please include the specific form, project number, project name, and rating system when requesting an upgrade. Alternatively, the updated form may be downloaded via the Sample Forms Download link within LEED Online and uploaded to this credit.
If the form is still not working create a narrative and explain what is happening and show your calculations.
Hi Kerrie, you posted this a few years ago. Do you remember what was the verdict? Was only the annual electrical consumption accepted?
We are in a similar situation in one of our projects, where we have electrical energy and purchased chilled water. I am not sure if we should include the purchased chilled water as well.
For LEED 2009 this is based only on the electricity for the project.
If we have some on-site renewable energy (pv and wind), does it get calculated for a net energy use, or does this credit restrict to the total gross baseline amount calculated by the energy model (in option 1) without consideration of on-site renewable energy? I suppose the net effect is marginal, but it seems to me that the net energy load is the target against which the off-site energy purchase should be based. Thanks.
Yes the on-site renewables are subtracted from the building consumption to determine the quantity of power.
Our project has uploaded a Green-eGreen-e is a program established by the Center for Resource Solutions to both promote green electricity products and provide consumers with a rigorous and nationally recognized method to identify those products. contract indicating 200,000 kWhA kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu. purchased over a 2-year timespan, but the linked EAp2 EAp2-10 Energy Use Summary uses the energy used without subtracting the energy produced by the PV, so it results in only 27% of green power, rather than 35%.
Is it just a matter of including a narrative explaining our case or is there an updated Credit Form that takes into consideration our PV on site?
You could try a new version of the form but it may not be compatible with your EAp2 form. Not sure about how all the combinations of different versions work together. If the credit form is grabbing the wrong number from the modeling results explain that in the narrative box on the form or upload a short narrative explanation. In either case show your calculations.
Is acceptable for a member of the design team or construction team to purchase RECs?
May a project team purchase RECs using project contingency funds directed by Owner?
If the team member buys them and then gives them to the building owner that would work. The source of the funds do not matter.
Use these step-by-step calculations, with examples, to determine the amount of green power needed to attain credit thresholds.
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