Launch Slideshow

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Going for Platinum

Going for Platinum

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    MHTN Architects' rehabilitated office in Salt Lake City is seeking Platinum LEED certification. The EarlyEco©tool assisted the design team to stay within budget while seeking the highest LEED rating.

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    A sample of the EarlyEco©computer printout for MHTN Architects Inc.'s office renovation, a LEED for commercial interior project.

The EarlyEco© process includes the following steps:

  • Define requirements to achieve client project design and sustainable goals.
  • Define the 28 key EarlyEco© building-input attributes.
  • Input key attributes into the Early-Eco© computer program.
  • Tabulate LEED costs using the Early-Eco© program.
  • Chief cost estimator and LEED AP review credits to customize the data to site parameters and unique site costs.
  • Update information in EarlyEco© program to reflect site-specific information and present to client and design teams.
  • Working together, the client and design teams refine the information and agree on LEED credits and costs.
  • Finalize information in EarlyEco© program with adjusted credits and costs.
  • Obtain final approval of LEED credits to pursue and establish their costs.
  • Expand EarlyEco© spreadsheet to calculate total consultant fees.
  • Complete final sustainable contract or contract amendments for fees.
  • Perform separate energy analysis and life-cycle cost analysis to quantify benefits.
  • Future EarlyEco© improvements will include more input and output capability to clearly identify synergies between design strategies, strategies that add value to the project above and beyond energy savings, and client or programmatic requirements.

    Case study

    MHTN Architects renovated its office with the goal of being a LEED-CI Platinum facility. Construction is nearly complete, and LEED certification is in review. The budget for the project was $1,352,950; final cost was $1,349,658. The costs associated with each potential LEED category are shown on the EarlyEco© cost spreadsheet on page 37. The extra LEED cost was $144,570 with a per-year savings of $46,607. The project payback is 3.1 years.

    EarlyEco© provided some valuable cost and benefit input early in the design process that allowed the team to focus its efforts and maintain project goals. For example, Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1.3, Optimize Energy Performance—HVAC, estimated a high initial cost with little benefit or return. This was because of the lease structure that portions out HVAC costs to tenants based solely on their percentage of space and not on the amount of energy they use. The design team confirmed EarlyEco's projections.

    On the other hand, EA Credit 1.1, Lighting Power, and 1.2, Lighting Controls, showed high initial cost with tremendous potential for reduced energy-cost savings during the life of the project. In addition, the lease had been structured to meter the tenant's direct electrical use, so these savings could go directly to the tenant.

    Another example of EarlyEco's input influencing the design team was the cost savings potential of Materials & Resources Credit 1.2, Building Reuse-Maintain 40 Percent of Interior Non-Structural Components. Although this was an established project goal, initial computations of reuse fell short of the goal and LEED criteria. It had been assumed existing ceiling tile could not be reused because of its poor light-reflectance characteristics.

    Because EarlyEco© had identified the tiles' positive savings capability, the team took another look and realized the better light reflectance ceiling tile only was necessary around light fixtures. By creating a repeating pattern in the ceiling clouds, existing ceiling tile was reused in the other areas and the LEED criteria was met.