LEED O+M: Existing Buildings v2.0
California Department of Public Health - Building P
LEED Silver 2011
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
EAc1.1 - EAc1.3, MRc4.1 - MRc4.2, EQc2
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
- Meet Executive Order S-20-08 requirements: At the time of this LEED project, all new and existing state-owned buildings above 50,000 square feet were required to be LEED Silver certified or above.
- Make all staff aware of building-related sustainability issues and help influence them to take action toward more sustainable choices in their work and personal lives.
- Implement sustainable measures where economically feasible and practical.
Photo by Tim Griffith
This building is long and narrow with the short sides facing east and west, thus minimizing sun glare and solar heat gain. Extensive use of decomposed granite reduced the need for landscaping and maintained soil permeability. Picnic tables invite employees to spend time outdoors during their breaks.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
Our most notable LEED credit was optimizing energy efficiency performance, associated with the ENERGY STAR rating of 98. This was achieved by exemplary initial design (initial ratings were in the low 90s) and facilities staff that implemented numerous energy measures. The facilities staff pursued Pacific Gas & Electric's (PG&E) energy efficiency rebates and participated in the utility's Monitoring-Based Persistence Commissioning (MBPCx) program, a systematic process for optimizing an existing building system's performance by identifying operational deficiencies and making adjustments. All energy-saving measures identified in Building P were achieved by operational changes, such as revising the air handler schedule. Additional adjustments, included resetting condenser water temperature, replacing return air damper actuators, and relocating some thermostats that were under direct sunlight. These measures provided us an estimated annual savings of 543,000 kWh and 9,250 therms, with a payback of 0.4 years. We used a computer program called Verdiem® that places computer CPUs into sleep mode when not in use, which also proved to be an effective energy reduction strategy. Each computer used an annual average of 580 kWh in 2009; implementing the sleep mode program in 2010 reduced annual energy use per computer to 246 kWh, a reduction of 42%. With about half of the campus' 1,200 personal computers located in Building P, these energy savings add up.
Additionally, participation in PG&E's Automated Demand Response Program (Auto DR) has reduced demand charges. During times of high electricity prices or system emergencies, PG&E sends a signal via the Internet to a communication box connected to the building's energy management system, initiating a cooling offset of all VAV temperatures by 4 degrees, raising building temperatures by the same amount.
The California Department of Public Health has worked closely with PG&E to increase the ENERGYSTAR rating of Building P at their Richmond Campus. Video courtesy of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)
During the LEED for Existing Buildings certification process, we also implemented new green cleaning practices and products. CDPH switched from third-party janitorial services to in-house, full-time, state staff before commencement of the LEED performance period. The LEED process was the primary reason for incorporating green cleaning practices and products in the newly-established janitorial services group. All janitorial closets were designed with exhaust-only ventilation to ensure that no chemicals from cleaning products migrate to the occupied space. Entry mats minimize the introduction of particles tracked in by shoes.
The landscape designers specified plants that generally require low amounts of irrigation (the design criteria were to select plants that could withstand the severe wind and poor draining as well as the green clay soils of the site). In addition, minimizing lawn areas, and using extensively decomposed granite (supplied from within 500 miles of the site), significantly reduced the amount of landscape area that requires irrigation and helped maximize pervious area. Permeable surfaces allow 27% of precipitation falling on the site not to become runoff (calculations based on LEED-EB v2.0). Finally, deciduous trees are used to shade the building and hard paved surfaces in the summer and to allow sun penetration in the winter.
Photo by Leon Alevantis
The landscaping features plants that can withstand the severe wind, poor draining, and green clay soils of the site, thereby requiring less irrigation. Decomposed granite (shown here) was used to significantly reduce the amount of landscape area requiring irrigation and to help maximize pervious area.
Photo by Leon Alevantis
Deciduous trees shade the building and hard paved surfaces in the summer and allow sun penetration during the winter.
The air handling units (AHUs) have been designed to ensure that the minimum amount of outdoor air is provided when these units are not operating in economizer mode. We installed additional hardware and software so that the energy management system now alerts maintenance engineers via alarm when minimum airflows in any of the four AHUs are not being met. Filters with a rating of MERV 13 reduce the amount of particulates introduced via the AHUs.
At six indoor locations, with the AHUs at their minimum outdoor air settings, the pre-occupancy testing of air contaminants indicated that all indoor concentrations were below non-industrial irritant guidelines (e.g. OEHHA Chronic Reference Exposure Limit or 1 percent of OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits). Our measurements included individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), airborne particulate matter, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The VOC measurements confirmed that the new building materials and furnishings were indeed low-emitting.
Recycled content materials were specified and installed during the construction of the building. These included carpet, latex paint for exterior, benches, and recycled content or bio harvested renewable material content floor tiles and partitions & ceiling tiles. Certified, sustainable wood products were used and precast unit pavers were manufactured within 500 miles of the site.
We also installed dual-flush flushometer retrofit kits, providing regular (1.6 gpf) and reduced (1.1 gpf) flushes. Dedicated parking spaces close to the building incentivize employees to choose alternative fuel vehicles. To encourage employees to use mass transit, CDPH offers a mass transit fare subsidy and provides free shuttle service to and from the nearest Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. A public bus stop located outside the main entry gate to the facility allows employees to use mass transit after hours when the shuttle service is not operating. Furthermore, an enclosed outside bike shelter and showers in Building P encourage employees to ride their bicycles.
Photo by Leon Alevantis
To encourage employees to use mass transit, CDPH provides a free shuttle service to and from the nearest Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. This is in addition to a mass transit fare subsidy provided by CDPH to its employees.
In addition to energy strategies employed throughout the LEED for Existing Buildings process, the building has abundant design features that provided a foundation for maximizing energy savings - in particular, optimal site orientation and plentiful daylighting. The building is long and narrow with short sides to the east and west. These concrete walls have only a few deep-set windows. In the morning and evening, when the sun is low in the sky in the east or west, the interior is protected from sun glare. The design also reduces late afternoon heat and decreases loads on air-conditioning systems. The long façades are north- and south-facing and consist of floor-to-ceiling glass, which on the north side suffuse the building's interior with natural light without glare or heat gain. The south glass admits natural light, as well; however, the full-height windows set back into deep concrete overhangs prevent direct mid-day rays from striking the glass during the summer.
The south elevation is further protected from solar heat gain by aluminum sunshades called brise soleil that run the length of the building in patterns calculated to block the sun's direct rays. However, during the winter, the low sun penetrates directly into the interior, reducing heating requirements. As they shield, the brise soleil shades also reflect light up and toward the ceilings, bringing daylight deeper into the building and reducing the need for artificial lights and energy. Occupant-controlled shades on the south elevation also help minimize glare.
Photo by Leon Alevantis
Floor-to-ceiling windows on the south side are set back into deep concrete overhangs to prevent direct sunlight in the summer and to reduce heat gain. Exterior aluminum shades (brise soleil) further reduce direct sunlight and heat gain in the summer.
One of the key architectural features is a large four-story, open light court atrium located in the center of the building that brings diffused light into the work environment via clerestory windows. A convex, curved ceiling bounces light in and down into the space, reducing the need for artificial light and providing employees with natural light. Other design solutions that increase natural light are narrow floor plates, an H-shaped footprint, and proximity of workstations to full-height windows (most located within 30 feet).
Photo by Tim Griffith
The four-story, open light court located in the center of the building (north side shown here) provides employees with natural daylight, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The large wood screen shown on this photo filters light from the south and provides visual warmth.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
The high ENERGY STAR rating of Building P has resulted in savings not only to CDPH, but to the California taxpayers. Additionally, certain programs based in Building P use the sustainable features of this building when recruiting new (especially young) employees, since recent college graduates are likely to be more aware of environmental issues and may prefer to work in a sustainable environment. The commitment of CDPH to enhance the sustainability of its Richmond Campus did not end with this LEED for Existing Buildings certification. With technical advice from the California Lighting Technology Center of UC Davis, CDPH recently completed a major retrofit of all parking lot lighting from metal halide to LED bi-level fixtures. This resulted in greater than 80% energy savings and more than a tenfold increase in light levels with virtually no maintenance.. Responding to numerous requests from its employees and consistent with Executive Order B-18-12, CDPH is also pursuing the installation of electric car charging stations at the Richmond Campus.
This short video demonstrates the high and low level LED's used in the parking lot at the California Department of Public Health to save energy.
What one thing saved you or the project team the most time, money, or helped avoid an obstacle during the LEED process? What one thing cost you the most?
We found the use of Maximo® preventative maintenance scheduling software for facilities, and the commitment of facilities staff to ensuring strict adherence to a regular preventative maintenance schedule of HVAC equipment, particularly helpful. In addition, the LEED for Existing Buildings process made staff aware of the sustainable issues associated with maintenance. Initial training of the maintenance staff by the equipment manufacturers and installers ensured that all staff became familiar with the new equipment; trainings were also videotaped so that they could be revisited at a later time by new staff. Continuous trainings of junior staff by in-house senior staff have ensured that these skills are maintained and improved.
In addition, the Monitoring Based Persistence Commissioning (MBPCx), which was performed in 2008, was invaluable in fine-tuning the operation of HVAC equipment to meet actual occupants' needs while achieving maximum energy savings.
One lesson learned involved a change order of the four rooftop air-handling units. The units initially specified by the designers were replaced by the installer with different units of a different economizer configuration. As a result, the outdoor air intake of one unit was too close to the cooling tower. Although this installation met the mechanical code in effect at the time (five feet of vertical separation), CDPH and the designers agreed on constructing a shroud to extend the outdoor air intake away from the cooling tower. CDPH subsequently pursued and succeeded in changing the Uniform Mechanical Code requirement on the separation distance between building outdoor intakes and cooling towers: a five-foot vertical separation is no longer allowed.
The waste stream audit was a real team-building experience, the results of which provided excellent information for an improved waste recycling program. Although the project was just two points shy of LEED Gold certification, the work toward achieving that goal provided good experience for future certification or recertification efforts. Some LEED points were not achieved due to lack of data documentation. One example of lacking documentation was in the case of the cool roof, which met the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's published criteria for cool roofs but was not ENERGY STAR certified at the time of construction in 2003. Another example was the lack of sub-metered data for the water fixtures, despite calculated water use reduction of 40% compared to the EPAct baseline. A lesson learned is that LEED certification should have been a requirement during the construction of this building. Since this was not the case, some credits were lost because of the lack of documentation (such as the cool roof), or installation of specific measures (i.e., submetering) that would have helped CDPH achieve a LEED-EB Gold level.
The most difficult and time-consuming aspect of the LEED certification process was to motivate staff to review and edit the model management plans developed by the California Department of General Services and to assemble all required data. These tasks required staff to divert their attention from day-to-day facilities operations and accept this additional workload despite being furloughed three days per month. In the end, the project team administrator had to make submission of the LEED application a priority and exercise extreme patience, frequently reminding staff of their assignments and convening weekly face-to-face progress meetings. The establishment of management plans and staff knowledge of the LEED certification process gained from this project will help when CDPH decides to re-certify Building P.
Photo by Leon Alevantis
Occupant controlled shades on the south side of the building (shown here) help minimize glare. In addition, controls on the south and the north sides of the building turn off overhead lighting when the light levels are sufficient. Task lighting at all the workstations also helps reduce general lighting levels elsewhere in the building.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
Undoubtedly, I think there was value in applying LEED to this project, ranging from education of staff on green building practices to promoting the department as a leader in sustainability. Building occupants are aware of the efforts to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability in their building. They participated in a questionnaire as part of the LEED application and are directly affected by the computer sleep mode software. In addition, their comfort is affected when PG&E calls for a demand reduction event, which automatically raises building temperatures by four degrees. Quarterly newsletters from facili-ties management to all employees ensure ongoing communication of sustainable efforts to employees. Additionally, the high energy savings serve as an example to the citizens of the State of California as to how energy efficiency measures can save money in the long term.
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