In honor of World Water Day which was March 22nd, lets take a look at how LEED 2012 is increasing the emphasis on water efficiency. In the third public comment of LEED BD+C we see several familiar credits come into full credit status along with some new requirements. Overall I like the direction the Water Efficiency category is moving. Ratcheting prerequisites up, increasing credit weight, expanding the reach into process/appliances and placing an importance on monitoring.
WE Prerequisite & Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction, a classic but first time as a prerequisite
USGBC will require first that you have 1,000 SF of vegetated area to pursue this credit to level the field. From there we have two options to first comply with the prerequisite portion. A mandatory 30% reduction in irrigation demand or not having permanent irrigation. Given the drought conditions recently across the Southern US, I think this is a necessary move to prerequisite status for the 30% reduction. I also think USGBC looked at the number of projects earning the 50% reduction and realized nearly all of them have a 50% reduction (It’s pretty easy with smart design). Therefore if every project achieves it, it should gradually move into the prerequisite category to keep raising the bar and maintaining LEED’s leadership role. To earn more points for the credit you will need to reach the 50% reduction threshold. Although credit weighting has changed slightly and they are referencing a new tool to calculate the irrigation demand, this credit stays relatively the same.
WE Prerequisite & Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction, another classic
The prerequisite threshold of 20% remains the same however there is opportunity here to earn more points than in previous versions for increased reductions, up to 50%. They’ve also removed the Innovative Wastewater Credit and essentially allocated those points towards this one credit devoted to indoor potable water use. Baseline fixtures all appear to stay the same from LEED v2009 signaling that we may be nearing a ‘bottom’ with technology advances in water efficient fixtures.
Within Healthcare, Retail, Hospitality and Schools there will also be a path to earn a point for choosing water efficient appliances.
WE Prerequisite: Building Level Water Metering, a bit of a Pilot Credit
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. This prerequisite should be no problem. Simply have in place a water meter for all potable water used inside and on the grounds and commit to sharing that data as with energy data to USGBC for five years.
WE Credit: Cooling Tower Water Use, came to us from LEED-EBOM
This credit is a take-off of what we’ve seen in LEED-EBOM. I think the LEED-EBOM credit is more clear, but both have the same goal of reducing the huge demand of potable water for cooling towers. Either through limiting cycles to only when you need them based off maximum levels of certain paramenters or by using recycled non-potable water. (Not sure if that is a typo on the draft and should read recycled or non-potable water?)
WE Credit: Water Metering, this started as a Pilot
This is a variation of the Pilot Credit for water metering based off the feedback they have received. You will be able to earn a point by sub-metering some of your water subsystems such as; irrigation, indoor plumbing, domestic hot water, boiler, reclaimed water or process water. This is a low-cost credit which will help building owners narrow in on water efficiency as we presumably see water prices increase over the coming years.
– Mark Schrieber, LEED AP BD+C & Homes