Owners, designers and architects are starving for options that will earn them Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credits.

Green building is big business and the trend is growing exponentially.

Owners, designers and architects are starving for options that will earn them Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credits. Whether its construction of a retail center, office building, university, school, hospital, laboratory or other facility, contractors should keep in mind how a climate control company can help them qualify for these environmentally friendly credits.

The goal of the United States Green Building Council’s LEED certification process is to improve the environmental performance and economic returns of buildings, while also improving and protecting the health of the occupants. LEED seeks to define “green building” by standardizing it with a list of specific criteria that cover a range of building performance issues and their effect on the environment. LEED closely reviews every facet of building design and promotes integrated design from a project’s commencement. The process is designed to save natural resources and increase energy efficiencies.

In addition to the eco-friendly aspect, those who decide to build Green buildings by meeting LEED guidelines are rewarded with significant tax breaks and credits. This is important because it is estimated that a typical green building costs 5 percent to 10 percent more then a conventional building, though implementing efficiencies will lead to operational and energy savings over time.

It is projected that by 2010 there will be nearly 10,000 LEED projects underway across the country. Thus, contractors must seek construction partners and vendors who can help them achieve certification.

A temporary climate control company can play an important role in assisting contractors to meet indoor air quality needs and qualify for LEED credits. Companies that offer equipment rental and HVAC consulting services allow builders the advantage of a controlled indoor environment after the building is closed and until the permanent HVAC system is cleared for operation. This method contributes towards LEED credits and preserves and maintains the warranty of an HVAC system.

Another role for the temporary climate control company in Green building is to control temperature, humidity and improve air quality throughout interior construction. Credits can be earned by utilizing desiccant dehumidification equipment to provide a more comfortable work environment, protect moisture sensitive materials, speed completion of construction processes, eliminate mold growth and provide clean, healthy air for workers. In addition, contributions towards credits can be earned by conducting a building flush out to reduce possible indoor air quality issues after construction is completed and prior to occupancy.

Consider partnering with a vendor that has professionally accredited staff to assist in meeting LEED requirements. A LEED-accredited professional has earned certification from the USGBC by demonstrating a thorough understanding of Green building practices and principles and familiarity with LEED requirements, resources and processes. Another advantage: One credit is automatically awarded for the participation of a LEED AP on the project review team.

To make your selection process easier, a climate control company will develop a protocol document or moisture management plan that identifies how its product and service will help contribute toward a specific credit category. This outline includes details such as equipment supplied, expected results, timelines and how it relates to the credit sought. A LEED AP also will work with you to identify the specific credit for qualification.

Such credits include:

EQ Credit 3.1 - IAQ management

To qualify for 3.1, temporary climate control equipment is used to meet the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s IAQ guidelines for occupied buildings under construction. Equipment is used to reduce moisture levels in unfinished facilities to protect the existing HVAC system from contamination from dust, mold and odors. This also ensures that the HVAC system warrant will not be activated before the building is turned over to the owner.

EQ Credit 3.1 - Protect on-site stored materials

Desiccant dehumidification equipment provides control of relative humidity, temperature, vapor pressure, dew points and moisture load in the air. This stabilizes the moisture content in sensitive materials such as hardwoods, sheetrock, plaster, particleboard, stored on-site or installed.

EQ Credit 3.2 - Flush out before occupancy

After construction ends, prior to occupancy and with all interior finishes installed, a building flush-out is performed by supplying a total air volume of 14,000 cubic feet of outdoor air per square foot of floor area. The flush out must deliver conditions no less than 60 F. and relative humidity below 60 percent. This high-quality temporary indoor air contributes to credits by meeting or exceeding minimum standards.

Later the protocol document will become a part of the formal LEED document that is reviewed by the USGBC committee to approve qualification.

In some cases, a temporary climate control company’s products services can earn an innovation in design credit. Potentially any product or service that is unique in system or design and intended to meet overall LEED objectives is considered.

One example is Munters’ energy-efficient Humidity Control Unit that has been used on project sites to assist in LEED certification. This system takes waste heat from the condenser circuit of the refrigeration and uses the heat to regenerate a desiccant wheel. The user receives dehumidified air and cool air and, in essence, receives the dehumidification for free. Over a traditional cooling system, an HCU is 30 percent more efficient than alternative technologies such as a DX or commercial air conditioner and desiccant wheel. Following are two examples that illustrate the use of an air treatment company to secure LEED credits.

Abbotsford Regional Hospital, Canada’s first full-scale hospital built to environmentally friendly LEED-silver standards, exemplifies the green approach. One key tactic involved not using the facility’s mechanical systems during construction. Munters staff worked with the construction firm to develop a strategic plan that called for deploying high capacity desiccant dehumidifiers on the hospital’s rooftop and then delivering the conditioned dry air through the facility’s mechanical exhaust ventilation system.

This plan that earned LEED credit ensured comprehensive air distribution throughout the structure without affecting the supply or return ductwork on the permanent HVAC system. The size and scope of the project also provided an opportunity to unveil a completely new, technologically-advanced line of desiccant dehumidifiers -- the DHI-125-ESU, a 9,000-cfm system that utilizes PowerPurge technology, an energy recovery option that improves performance by delivering air at drier levels, while using significantly less energy than traditional active desiccant dehumidification systems.

In another example, Munters played a role in helping project personnel receive LEED credits during the construction of a single-story branch bank office in San Antonio. Mike Leonard, owner of Leonard Contracting, utilized Munters to flush out the building prior to occupancy and, in the process, qualify for Credit 3.2. During the one-week project, MCS employed its HCU system and powered it with a generator. At the completion of the project, Credit 3.2 was awarded.

As the Green Building movement continues to grow, contractors should keep in mind how an air treatment company can play an important part in improving efficiencies during the construction project and assist in earning eco-friendly credits.

Russ Brown is Munters Moisture Control Services’ national sales manager for the temporary humidity control division. He can be reached by phone at (800) 422-8379 or via e-mail at russ_brown@munters.com.