The following has been taken from Green Building Education Services, (GBES)

Understanding LEED Certifications

While many are familiar with LEED certification in general, few understand the methodology behind the title. A building can actually pass LEED requirements in a variety of ways. There are four separate LEED ratings, and each rating requires a different number of points. The point breakdown for the most recent LEED program version (v4) is as follows:

Points are achieved by meeting select criteria based on the scope and type of structure being built. Different structures have different point opportunities, but all points fall into one of the following categories: 

How Solar Can Help with LEED Certification

While it is possible to construct a LEED-certified building without the help of solar power, proper solar applications can help a new building earn additional points.

Here are a few main ways solar can help structures meet LEED qualifications.

  1. Heat Island Reduction

Heat island effects occur when areas experience increased temperatures as a result of structures or manmade developments. Asphalt-paved parking areas, for instance, absorb and hold heat, driving temperatures up and potentially harming local wildlife. New construction projects following the Building Design and Construction specialization can receive up to two points for reducing the heat island effects by building renewable energy systems – including solar arrays – to shade to high heat areas. 

  1. Efficient Water Heating

Homes can receive up to three points for installing high-efficiency water heaters. Though there are a few different types of water heaters that can provide these points, a solar water heater that provides more than 60% of a home’s annual domestic hot water can earn tenants the maximum number of allotted points in this category.

  1. Renewable Energy

Solar’s most popular application, renewable energy production, has the potential to generate a wide range of points depending on the percent of a building’s energy use supplied by a renewable source, like solar. On select structures, for example, if 1% of a structure’s annual energy generation comes from solar, including that generated by traditional arrays and solar roof tilesthe structure qualifies for one point.

  1. Solar Orientation

On a neighborhood planning scale, a project can earn up to one point for optimizing alignment for solar efficiency. This means that buildings should be arranged with their longest sides aligned within 15 degrees of the east-west axis, where they’ll be able to receive a maximum amount of sunlight for rooftop solar arrays.

  1. Active Solar Design

Homes that don’t receive points for solar water heaters or renewable energy can receive up to one point for having a solar-ready design that will allow for easy installation of a PV array or solar water heater in the future.

The benefits that come from using solar technology are vast, and they line up well with the fundamental goals of LEED certification. Both encourage better air quality, less reliance on non-renewable energy sources, decreased carbon emissions, and more sustainability overall. With goals that line up so well, it stands to reason that solar can – and should – be a vital part of the LEED certification process.

 The full article can be located here.

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