Energy efficiency is the starting point for any high-performance building. After reducing overall energy needs through building-related energy conservation measures, the next step is to invest in passive systems and high-efficiency HVAC systems. Smart controls can help a building operate even more efficiently. But in the end, there will always be a need to purchase or create energy for the building.

On-site generation of renewable energy or the purchase of green power allows buildings to source the remaining energy needs without using harmful fossil fuel sources.

Projects pursuing certification using LEED-NC v2009 could take advantage of on-site renewables via EA Credit 2: On-Site Renewable Energy. Up to 7 points could be achieved for providing up to 13% of the building’s energy with on-site renewables. All electricity generated and heat used on-site was counted towards the credit. Electricity and heat generated on-site but sold to the grid at a premium was not eligible. Over time, however, this rather simple delineation of what constitutes “renewable energy” has become complicated by emerging technologies and unique project circumstances. Thus, LEED v4 has attempted to take the precedents and define “renewable energy” in more comprehensive manner.

LEED v4 BD+C: EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production

In LEED v4 BD+C, under EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production, up to 3 points can be achieved for providing a certain percentage of a project’s energy with renewable sources (see table below).

Table: Points for renewable energy.Adapted from the LEED (v4) Reference Guide for Building Design and Construction.

What is Eligible?

LEED v4 BD+C credit language clearly states the following renewable energy sources are eligible for credit:

  • Photovoltaic (PV)
  • Solar thermal
  • Wind
  • Biofuel (in some cases; see below)
  • Low-impact hydroelectricity
  • Wave and tidal energy
  • Geothermal energy (in some cases; see below)

While they reduce energy consumption and use energy in a pure sense, passive strategies that utilize environmental control systems (e.g., passive solar heating, daylighting) do not meet the intent of the credit and are not eligible.

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