Facility Occupant Impact on Living Building Challenge Certification
One of the unique characteristics of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) is that certification is based on actual, rather than designed, modeled or anticipated performance. Therefore, a building must be operational for at least 12 consecutive months before it can qualify for LBC certification. One of the main factors considered during the measurement process is occupant use of the building.
The Operations Team
From the beginning of the Brock Environmental Center project, the facility operations team has focused on learning when and how to conserve power and water usage. This involved learning how to utilize natural ventilation and sunlight as a necessity to minimize the use of the facility’s HVAC, lighting and water systems. It’s critical to ensure all of the occupants know how to conserve energy in the building in order to meet the net-zero energy requirement of the LBC certification.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s original mission for the Brock Environmental Center was to provide a teaching and learning environment for our youth that embodied the message of personal responsibility for a sustainable life style. Their initiative of “Saving the Bay” had to be accompanied by a facility that was based on a strong statement of contribution to that end.
Therefore, the innovative design and cutting edge technology that make up the Center’s elevated sustainable certification were intended to operate collaboratively with the occupants’ working knowledge and continuous participation.
Power Usage Conservation Procedures for the Brock Environmental Center
The HVAC system utilizes, or conserves, more electrical power than any other system in the facility. The following procedures are applicable to the occupants’ use of the HVAC system to create the most efficient outcome.
Set points for the HVAC system will be established from a low of 66 degrees to a high of 78 degrees in order to conserve power usage. This will require the building occupants to dress accordingly to the time of year. For example, in the winter when the set point is 66 degrees, slightly warmer-than-normal clothing will be required.
On days that the outside ambient temperatures are between 68 and 76 degrees and the humidity levels are at or below 40%, the facility’s HVAC system will be shut down and the operable window systems will be opened to utilize exterior natural ventilation and mild weather to provide a comfortable interior environment. The occupants of the building will be responsible for learning, understanding and performing the tasks required to complete the process. The operable window systems will be returned to their normal positions of “closed” by the occupants upon notice that the temperature and humidity are outside of the ranges noted above.
Occupants will also be trained to utilize the facility’s lighting system in accordance with the amount of available natural daylighting from the sun. The primary overhead lighting system may be turned off during peak times of available natural sunlight. Peak times are approximately 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the summer. Individual desk task lights may also be used outside of these times to provide ample lighting, which would continue to allow the primary lighting system to remain turned off and conserve energy.
Other conservation practices
In lieu of desktop computers, occupants will be required to use laptops since they use less than half of the energy of a desktop computer. In addition, ceiling fans will be used to provide more efficient distribution of conditioned air throughout the occupied spaces. Occupants will also minimize the use of personal portable space heaters at each individual workstation in order to conserve power.
The facility’s occupants will be required to learn and participate in each of the above energy-conserving techniques in order to achieve overall net-zero energy use and target the LBC certification.