A Systems Level Approach: A Pathway to More Efficient Buildings | U.S. Green Building Council
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A Systems Level Approach: A Pathway to More Efficient Buildings

GBCI: 0920016092

This learning pathway is tailored for building operators, design teams, facility managers, energy managers, contractors and engineers aiming to further reduce building energy consumption through a systems – level approach to energy efficiency.

Published on: April 13, 2018



A building systems approach to energy efficiency is one in which multiple systems are designed, installed and operated to optimize performance collectively and with energy systems outside the building. Systems level efficiency looks beyond improving individual building components to consider the interactions of components within and among various building systems (such as HVAC and lighting systems). This approach includes interactions among multiple buildings and interactions between buildings and external systems like an electrical grid. A focus on integration within and among building systems is vital to maximizing efficiency gains and further decreasing energy use in buildings. This learning pathway highlights opportunities across the LEED v4 rating systems to both incorporate a systems strategy in all phases of a buildings life cycle and opportunities for system approaches to think beyond the building itself.

To learn more about all that USGBC has to offer, take this short introductory course: A Quick Tour of Education @USGBC


Designing for Systems Efficiency in LEED v4: Integrative Process

  • LEED v4 - A Primer – This PowerPoint based course gives a high level overview of the major changes from LEED 2009 to LEED v4. Building Optimization is one of the new categories highlighted in this brief course.
  • Integrative Process – This course is a two–part webinar that explores integrative processes, teams and systems.
  • Credit: Integrative Process – A brief course to help understand the key components of the Integrative Process credit.
  • Building as an Organism: Understanding the Integrative Process Credit in LEEDv4 – This course is tailored toward those new to the Integrative Process credit, offering a clear and comprehensive introduction.
  • Bright Ideas – Integrative Design and the LEEDv4 Rating System – This course reviews implementation strategies for an integrative design and construction process. The design professional will explore collaboration strategies to help control project costs, and discover energy efficiency measures enabled through engagement with the building occupants.
  • Four Stories of the Integrated Process – A one-hour course examining project goals and results, both visible and invisible, from the use of LEED v4’s Integrative Process credit.
  • Owners Project Requirements: Where Integration Begins – This one hour course goes over the outline and strategies of developing an OPR discussing how a foundational OPR can be essential to LEEDv4’s Integrative Process Credit.
  • Building Performance: Design Through Operations – In this course, a team of engineers and designers discuss how to best implement sustainable buildings from the design phase through the operations phase by focusing on three main narratives of integrated design, construction/ commissioning, and ongoing performance tracking.
  • Façade, Lighting and Cooling in One Perspective – This reading based course provides readers an understanding of how integration amongst the architect, façade designer, lighting designer and HVAC engineer can result in an efficient building design.
  • Early Design Facade Analysis - Project Showcase – This course walks through a real project that took an integrated design approach to meet its sustainability goals. It is geared towards participants who want to know more about what types of options are available for integrative design at the conceptual or schematic phase.

Benchmarking and Energy Modeling for Building – Level Performance:

Optimizing System Level Operation and Performance

Towards Net Zero:

  • Pathway to Net Zero: This USGBC curated learning pathway provides links to education courses and resources to help position a LEED project for net zero energy, water and waste. Participants will also learn about strategies that have worked for LEED projects in achieving net zero status.



  1. Learn how LEED v4’s Integrated Process credit encourages a systems level approach to energy efficiency in which architects work alongside lighting/daylighting designers, engineers and building operators from the inception of a project through completion.
  2. Hear how developing an integrative approach early in the design process brings opportunities to enhance performance and have a positive impact on a projects timeline and budget.
  3. Understand how whole-building energy benchmarking and energy modeling is critical to maximizing energy efficiency and ensuring operational success throughout a building’s lifetime.
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Created by

U.S. Green Building Council
Washington, DC
United States

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