ID#10218 made on
EAp2 - Minimum energy performance
LEED BD+C: New Construction, LEED BD+C: Core and Shell, LEED BD+C: Schools, LEED ID+C: Retail, LEED BD+C: Healthcare, LEED BD+C: Hospitality, LEED BD+C: Data Centers, LEED ND: Project
This LEED Interpretation pertains to the requirement to limit voltage drop for Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 2 for Minimum Energy Performance. The current limit is posing a significant hardship...
This LEED Interpretation pertains to the requirement to limit voltage drop for Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 2 for Minimum Energy Performance. The current limit is posing a significant hardship to tall buildings relative to satisfying the mandatory requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 (also applicable in 90.1-2010), referenced in the prerequisite.
Specifically, the requirement in Standard 90.1 to limit voltage drop to not greater that 2% for electrical feeders and 3% for branch circuits (section 8.4.1) has proven to be problematic for large projects which often contain feeders of extended length. By comparison, the National Electric Code does not explicitly regulate voltage drop, but suggests model Code language that limits either electrical feeder or branch circuit voltage drop to 3%, with the combined voltage drop of both feeders and branch circuits when added together not to exceed 5%.
This may appear to be a minor difference, However, when applied to long copper electrical feeders which are present in tall buildings, this absolute constraint from Standard 90.1 on the feeder voltage drop (of 2%) results in a significant increase in the required quantity of copper conductors and associated conduit.
As an example of a higher density regions attempting to resolve this issue, the New York City Electrical Code has adopted the National Electric Code model language as mandatory for all buildings and also included an exception for residential occupancies within buildings to limit electrical feeder voltage drop to 4%, and the combined voltage drop of both feeders and branch circuits to not more than 5%.
This change is in recognition of the inherently short branch circuit lengths in typical NYC apartments, and is based on measured testing results which indicate that voltage drop is often negligible due to the conservative feeder and circuit sizing requirements mandated by other aspects of the Code. Thus, for residential buildings the allowable voltage drop of 4% is twice the allowable voltage drop of 2% as required in 90.1. Depending upon the length and capacity of a particular feeder, this difference can equate to a 3X variance in the required quantity of copper conductors and conduit, with a significant associated cost premium.
The magnitude of the cost premium to satisfy the 90.1 criteria in tall buildings, as compared with New York City Code requirements, can be equal to the total of all of the other cost premiums (hard and soft) associated with achieving LEED certification (at the Silver or Gold level) for a medium to large project in New York City.
In order to resolve this issue, we are proposing an alternate compliance path that we believe would meet the intent of the prerequisite, while at the same time preventing cost prohibitive use of significant amounts of additional copper.
Voltage drop is literally the loss of electrical energy (converted to heat) within a building, therefore regulating voltage drop is no different than regulating the energy efficiency of any electricity consuming device in a building (such as light fixtures or HVAC motors).
Several approaches could be implemented within the LEED rating system to address this disproportionate prescriptive requirement of Standard 90.1. A simple and straight forward approach would be to allow buildings utilizing Appendix G energy modeling as the LEED energy compliance path to include voltage drop as a regulated parameter within both the Energy Cost Budget and Design Energy Cost models. Under this approach, the 90.1 criteria (2% for feeders and 3% for branch circuits) would included in the Energy Cost Budget model, but the Design Energy Cost model would be allowed to include the actual voltage drop that will be implemented in the project design.
This approach would achieve the direct intent of the voltage drop requirement of Standard 90.1 in regulating the energy efficiency of power distribution systems, but through the inherent trade-off methodology of Appendix G would allow projects the flexibility to eliminate a disproportionate cost premium that is otherwise incurred by a prescriptive requirement.
The proposed alternative compliance path for meeting the mandatory requirement of ASHRAE 90.1-2007/2010 Section 8.4, Voltage Drop Limitation, allowing voltage drop as a regulated parameter within the energy models, is not acceptable; however, a simplified alternative compliance path can be approved. As noted in the Formal Inquiry, code requirements and guidelines allow flexibility in meeting voltage drop guidance in feeders and branches as long as the overall voltage drop from service entrance to the worst-case connection is within limits. For the purposes of this prerequisite, the mandatory provision of ASHRAE 90.1-2007/2010 Section 8.4 will be met as long as the total voltage drop does not exceed 5%. Internationally applicable.
Related Addenda (Corrections & Interpretations)