One of the biggest trends in the construction industry is green building and design. With its focus on everything from renewable building materials to solar energy and conservation, green construction is becoming a symbol of competency amongst contractors and architects. Builders and designers that are able to successfully implement green certification standards into their projects are highly sought after in the industry. One of the most popular certifications developers are seeking to attain in their new projects is the acronym that is at the top of everyone’s project checklist…LEED.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program that ranks a project’s level of compliance with green standards such as energy efficiency, water usage, quality of air and building resources. The certification process not only takes into account the finished project but the construction process throughout as well. The certification is credit based and has four levels that can be reached:
- Basic LEED – 40–49 credits
- Silver LEED – 50-59 credits
- Gold LEED – 60-79 credits
- Platinum LEED – 80+ credits
LEED In Action: The Lenox Boardwalk & MEP Delta Design
Any contractor knows, that to be an industry leader, you want to be LEED certified. One of the fastest growing “green” cities in the US, Austin, Texas, is a prime example of the importance of this certification to local communities as well as municipalities. Austin is a trailblazer in Texas environmental issues and designers, such as Austin’s own Davies Collaborative, are proud to be a part of this movement.
Davies Collaborative brought the vision of their client, Oden Hughes LLC, to MEP Delta Design consultants to use our skills to incorporate LEED certified MEP design into their bold new project, The Lenox Boardwalk apartment community.
The Lenox Boardwalk is a vision of beautifully designed apartment homes designed to have the same amenities and feel of a traditional home without the burden of maintenance. Tucked away purposefully into the East Riverside/Lakeshore Drive corridor, the location gives residents easy access to I-35, East 6th Street and of course, downtown Austin.
Balancing LEED Design With Style
One of the challenges we faced with the Lenox Boardwalk is how to implement our MEP designs that meet LEED standards yet maintain the luxurious style cues Oden Hughes envisioned. Style cues such as high ceilings, balconies, luxury kitchens and leisure areas like pools can lead to wasted energy and resources if not designed properly. LEED certification is very stringent and our clients chose us over their usual firm, and we were confident in our ability to deliver above and beyond.
Our design was carefully focused on earning LEED certification while maintaining the luxurious amenities this property was eager to offer. In the end, our team was able to seamlessly meld LEED certified designs with their vision that began construction in 2014 and is now nearly complete. The Lenox Boardwalk MEP design actually helped earn what is expected to be LEED silver certification when the product is finished in the coming months.
Why Should LEED Certification Matter To Your Firm?
As mentioned, LEED certification and other green building standards will only continue to grow in demand and for good reason. LEED and other standards offer firms the opportunity to take advantage of many benefits that come from green building, both tangible and intangible.
Benefits Of LEED Certification
- Positive Public Image – People are more conscious than ever about environmental conservation and responsible development, agriculture and manufacturing. Building within these stringent standards shows the public your firm is willing to go above and beyond to preserve the environment.
- Financial Impact – LEED certified buildings lease-up rates have shown to outpace those of traditional buildings and also are eligible for numerous incentives. Tax rebates and zoning allowances are just a couple of these incentives that can really impact your profit margin. When you factor in that LEED compliance contributes to retaining a higher property value both in commercial construction and residential, it’s a fiscally wise move.
- Resistant To Recession – While no industry is fully recession proof, LEED certified buildings increased in average square footage by almost 15% since 2015 despite an ongoing recession and real estate bubble bust. LEED projects can actually help your firm remain competitive, productive and turn a profit even when the market is soft.
- It Attracts Clients – When your firm shows the ability to construct LEED certified buildings that can help both residential and commercial industries, it will attract clients over firms that do not have that ability. The credibility your company attains from successfully completed projects that meet LEED standards, will be the driving force that establishes you as an authority in the industry.
When it’s all said and done LEED certification is a win-win for companies that offer compliance. While it saves buyers money, peaks maximum efficiency and builds credibility for all involved, it’s also just the right thing to do for the environment. Increasing sustainability by reducing water waste and increasing energy efficiency makes our world a better place.
How MEP Design Factors Into LEED Compliance
In order to achieve LEED compliance it is very important that all components of the project designs come together to achieve the standards required to receive certification. One of the most important components is the MEP design of the project.
Given that MEP design encompasses so much of the elements in a structure it is understandable why a failure in LEED compliant MEP design could sideline an entire project. Some of the components of the LEED core competencies that must be considered in the MEP design are as follows:
- Reducing the light pollution of exterior lighting systems
- Overall lighting efficiency
- Interior and exterior light controls
- On-site renewable energy sources (wind, solar and hot water)
- Solar harvesting
- Electrical and water consumption verification and measurement
- Water consumption reduction of up to 85%
- HVAC system efficiency compliance
- Improved filtering of HVAC system
- Controllability of thermal systems
We Are Committed To LEED Compliance
As you can see, LEED compliance can seem very daunting given its long list of standards and specifications. MEP Delta Design is fully committed to working on LEED Certified projects. We are proud of our recent work on The Lenox Boardwalk and can bring that same success to your project. Contact us today at (512) 215-9792 for a consultation regarding your LEED compliant project.