Adopting best practices and then carefully documenting your energy conservation measures (ECMs) are critical to streamlining your LEED submission so it passes review and isn’t returned with a request for a lot more clarification.
This is especially important for manufacturers, as you may encounter credit reviewers who are inexperienced with the complex inner workings and one-off machinery of a manufacturing facility.
What is an ECM?
An ECM is any method or process in the manufacturing facility that saves energy and is better than the standard practice or process compared to the majority (50%+) of peer facilities.
ECMs need to be documented in your LEED application as part of the energy and atmosphere credits (EAp2/EAc1) to demonstrate how you will achieve your targeted energy savings.
The ECMs associated with the manufacturing and process areas, when captured in the energy model, are typically not related to any improvements to the building envelope or the HVAC system. The exception is when an HVAC system is tied into a heating or cooling loop that is associated with process heating and cooling.
Keep it Simple
In our previous blog post on energy model manufacturing, “Simplify the LEED Submission for Manufacturing Energy Modeling,” we discussed how keeping the submission simple could result in fewer negative comments from the review team.
The same holds true for the ECMs and its documentation. If you include dozens of project ECMs in the submission, you risk overwhelming the reviewer, which could lead to a high number of review comments that may or may not be relevant to the project
To avoid this and the additional hours required to respond to the comments, it is best to choose only the highest energy saving ECMs to cover in the LEED review.
Not Every ECM is Created Equal
Every time energy modelers attend a manufacturing plant kickoff meeting, their main concern is whether they will find enough project ECMs during the meeting to achieve the team’s desired energy savings and LEED points. Modelers usually walk away with a list of 10 to15 ECM ideas, and occasionally more if the engineering team happens to get rolling during the coffee and donuts portion of the meeting.
While many of the initial ECM ideas are probably perfectly valid and would show savings, in my experience, the majority of the savings will be found within five ECMs. Add any more and there is rapidly dwindling rate of return.
If you need to add a sixth ECM to cross a point threshold, go ahead, although most modelers recommend not submitting more than five, no matter how awesome. Spend your time up front making sure your five best ECMs are well documented, rather than spending your time on the rebuttal of ticky-tacky comments during review.
Goldilocks Documentation—Getting Your Submission Just Right
Your reviewer can interpret your ECM submission in a number of ways: “This ECM has way too much documentation and is confusing, so I think I will ask a bunch of clarification questions;” or, “This ECM documentation doesn’t seem complete, so I think I will deny it;” or, “This ECM looks great, and I will quickly move on to the next one.”
A reviewer may not understand the manufacturing ECM he is reviewing. Often the manner in which the ECM is documented will be the focus of any review comments, and not the content of the calculations provided, although your submission should be accurate, as the reviewer will catch obvious mistakes.
To provide clarity, we recommend using one of the three common ECM documentation methodologies for a manufacturing project: a mathematical calculation, an equipment manufacturer’s letter/documentation, or a combination of the two.
The mathematical calculation (see example below) gives a brief overview of what the calculation will entail, including the type of energy involved and what function it will provide.
It also illustrates if there are any commonly used design practices that deal with this energy, and if there are any known energy requirements from a governing body. The calculation itself should then be set out in a simple linear and transparent way. Make sure to provide access to all the formulas, and be very sure to label all units.
An equipment manufacturer’s letter or documentation can speed up the ECM documentation, but it is often recommended to take the information from the documentation and format it to match the rest of the submitted ECMs.
Manufacturer’s documentation often provides more information than the reviewer needs to sift through. Provide the same information in the same manner as the calculation method above, but expand on any of the relevant sections and omit any information that does not directly influence the ECM calculation.
The example below shows ECM documentation that was completed using a vendor’s calculator. Of course, every ECM is different. This example of one project’s documentation and is not a yardstick for every ECM.
By following these simple tips on how to organize, reduce, and properly document your project’s ECMs, you will be able to streamline the process of submitting and then responding to any comments for EAp2/EAc1.
Grey Fowles is a Consultant, CDT, LEED® AP with Paladino Seattle