A case study assessment of the energy consumption of LEED certified academic buildings in Ontario: Is LEED certification necessarily better?
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With “commercial and institutional buildings account[ing] for 12% of Canada’s secondary energy use and 11% of [the] national greenhouse gas emissions” (National Resources Canada, 2014), the energy consumption of Canada’s non-residential buildings plays a large role in both climate change and overall energy usage. Making these buildings more energy efficient provides opportunity to reduce both Canadian energy use and the overall effects of climate change from building construction and operation. The LEED New Construction v1 rating system stresses the importance of a building’s energy efficiency by designating 25% of its points towards energy reduction opportunities providing clear indication of the CaGBC’s belief in the potential for LEED certified buildings to reduce overall energy consumption in new buildings. As LEED certified buildings have been constructed for over a decade in Canada, there are opportunities to assess how these buildings are performing from an energy perspective in comparison to provincial averages. This study looks at LEED certified academic buildings in Ontario and evaluates their energy intensity in comparison to provincial survey averages, broad public sector data made available by the Green Energy Act, campus-wide energy intensities, and additionally assesses their actual energy performance in comparison to the modelled energy results submitted for final LEED certification. The results of this research show that the studied LEED certified academic buildings on average perform better than both their provincial average and campus-wide energy intensities. The energy modelled results provided for LEED certification on each building under-predicts the energy intensity of the building anywhere from 2 – 44%. Additionally, the results of this research demonstrate the need for better energy surveys and energy benchmarking practices across Ontario. The study aims to aid academic decision-makers in setting reasonable benchmarks for energy intensity targets and to provide recommendations for national benchmarking authorities, the CaGBC and USGBC, as well as energy modelling professionals.
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