Location:
ENERGY CONSERVATION;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report


January 13, 2011

 

2011-R-0016

LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN RATING SYSTEM

By: Kevin McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked how the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system works. You also asked for a summary of state legislation regarding this system.

SUMMARY

LEED is a rating system that provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built in a way that promotes environmental goals, such as saving energy and water. There are rating systems for new commercial and institutional buildings, health care facilities, homes, and retail buildings, among others. For each rating system, a building earns points for the environmental measures it incorporates. There are four classifications — certified, silver, gold, and platinum, based on the number of points that a building earns.

Connecticut has adopted legislation requiring that certain building projects meet LEED or comparable standards. PA 06-187 requires state facility construction projects to meet or exceed the silver rating of the LEED rating system for new commercial construction and major renovation projects or an equivalent standard. The requirement applies to most new state-funded facilities costing $5 million or more, other than school construction projects and certain state structures. PA 07-242 broadened the state's green building requirements by eliminating the exceptions for schools and state structures such as maintenance garages.

PA 07-242 imposed similar green building requirements on large private sector developments. However, PA 09-192 delays the date when the private sector requirements take effect and narrows their scope.

PA 07-242 authorized $30 million in bonds for Connecticut Innovations, Inc. to fund the net project costs of renewable energy and combined heat and power (cogeneration) projects in state buildings. Under that act, to be eligible the building must be certified in the LEED program or in the process of being certified.

PA 09-8, September 2009 Special Session, allows the state to give corporate taxpayers a credit, starting next year, if they build buildings that meet certain energy and environmental standards. Projects eligible for credits are real estate developments in the state designed to meet or exceed the applicable LEED Green Building Rating System gold certification or an equivalent standard as determined by the environmental protection (DEP) commissioner.

LEED

LEED is a green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built in a way to save energy and water, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve indoor environmental quality, and conserve resources. The system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED gives building owners and operators a framework to identify and implement green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. There are separate rating systems for:

1. new construction and major renovation of commercial and institutional buildings;

2. operations and maintenance of existing buildings;

3. commercial interiors;

4. core and shell construction, which covers base building elements, such as the building envelope (walls and windows) and building-level systems, such as heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems;

5. schools;

6. retail facilities;

7. health care facilities; and

8. homes.

In addition, there is a pilot program for neighborhood development that integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building design.

LEED points are awarded on a 100-point scale and credits are weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts. An additional 10 bonus credits are available, four of which address regionally specific environmental issues. A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified. The number of points a project earns determines the level of LEED certification the project receives. LEED certification is available in four levels – certified (40-49 points), silver (50-59 points), gold (60-79 points), and platinum (80 points or more).

Further information is available at www.usgbc.org/Default.aspx.

LEGISLATION

LEED Standards for Public Sector Buildings

PA 06-187 requires state facility construction projects funded on or after January 1, 2007 to meet specified energy and environmental standards. The requirement applied to new facilities costing $5 million or more, other than school construction projects, salt sheds, parking garages, or maintenance facilities.

The act required the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary, in consultation with other relevant agencies, to adopt regulations adopting construction standards that meet or exceed the silver rating of the LEED rating system for new commercial construction and major renovation projects or an equivalent standard. The alternative standard must at least include a rating of two globes out of four under the Green Globes USA design program. The secretary must update the regulations as he considers necessary. The secretary, in consultation with the public works commissioner and the Institute for Sustainable Energy, must exempt a facility from the regulations if the Institute for Sustainable Energy finds, in a written analysis, that the cost of compliance significantly outweighs the benefits of compliance.

PA 07-242 broadened and increased the state's green building requirements. Starting January 1, 2008, the act modified the requirements by (1) eliminating the exceptions for schools and structures such as maintenance garages and (2) limiting the green building requirements to those state facilities where at least $2 million of the total funding for the building (which must cost $5 million or more) comes from the state. (PA 07-249 eliminates the $2 million threshold.) PA 07-242 also extends the requirements to the following types of projects with at least $2 million or more in state funding:

1. renovations to state facilities approved and funded on or after January 1, 2008;

2. new school construction projects authorized by the legislature on or after January 1, 2009 that cost $5 million or more; and

3. school renovation projects authorized by the legislature on or after that date costing at least $2 million.

The act also requires all of these facilities to exceed the current building code energy efficiency standards by at least 20%.

The act would have increased, by two percentage points, but not more than 100%, the reimbursement rate under the school construction grant program for those projects subject to the green building requirements. The school district would have been required to certify that the school met the standards. (PA 07-249 repeals both the bonus and certification requirements.)

Large Private Public Sector Buildings

PA 07-242 would have required the state building inspector and the Codes and Standards Committee to amend the State Building Code to require (1) buildings costing $5 million or more and built after January 1, 2009 and (2) renovations costing $2 million or more starting January 1, 2010 to meet the LEED silver standard or its equivalent. The requirements applied to private and public sector projects, other than residential buildings with up to four units. The act required the inspector and the committee to waive these requirements if the Institute for Sustainable Energy finds that the cost of compliance significantly outweighs the benefits.

PA 09-192 delays the date when the above requirements take effect and narrows their scope. It requires the state building inspector and Codes and Standards Committee to establish the threshold size for buildings subject to the standards, rather than applying them to certain new construction costing $5 million or more and renovations costing $2 million or more.

The act requires the building inspector and committee, in consultation with the public safety commissioner, on and after July 1, 2010, to revise the code with regard to green building standards. Specifically, it requires them to amend the code to require certain buildings of or over a specified minimum size that qualify as new construction or major alteration of a residential or nonresidential building to meet or exceed optimum cost-effective building construction standards for the thermal envelope or mechanical systems. The provisions must at least address indoor air quality, water conservation, and the building's lighting and electrical systems. They must reference nationally accepted green building rating systems, which, under the act, include the National Green Building Standard, as established by the National Association of Home Builders; as well as LEED and Green Globes or an equivalent rating system approved by the state building inspector and committee.

The act requires that the revision include a method for demonstrating compliance at the time of application for a certificate of occupancy. These include, among other things, private third-party certification or verification of compliance with the relevant portions of the rating systems, including the energy and environmental portions.

The act eliminates a requirement that the inspector and the committee waive the green building requirements if the Institute for Sustainable Energy finds that the cost of compliance significantly outweighs the benefits.

Under prior law, the state building inspector and Codes and Standards Committee, on and after January 1, 2008, were required to revise the state building code to require that all buildings and building elements were designed to meet optimum cost-effective energy efficiency standards over the building's useful life. The revisions had to meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Standard 90.1 for new construction.

PA 09-192 limits the revisions to commercial and residential buildings, instead of all types of buildings. It also (1) eliminates the required ongoing revision of the code to incorporate energy efficiency standards and (2) delays adoption of the standards by requiring that the code incorporate the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, no later than 18 months after its publication.

The Department of Public Safety has proposed regulations to incorporate the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, with several amendments, in the state building code. It allows state and local code officials to deem compliance with the LEED and comparable programs to meet the energy efficiency requirements of the state building code. The proposed regulations were submitted to the Regulations Review Committee, which held a pubic hearing on them in December 2010.

Funding for Green Buildings

PA 07-242 authorized $30 million in bonds for Connecticut Innovations, Inc. to fund the net project costs of renewable energy and combined heat and power (cogeneration) projects in state buildings. Under that act, to be eligible the building must be certified in the LEED program or in the process of being certified. PA 07-4, June Special Session expanded eligibility for this funding to include buildings that (1) are becoming LEED silver rated, (2) have a two-globe rating in the Green Globes USA design program, or (3) are in the process of receiving this latter rating.

Starting with income years beginning on or after January 1, 2012, PA 09-8, September 2009 Special Session, allows the state to give corporation taxpayers a credit if they build buildings that meet certain energy and environmental standards (“green buildings”). It gives the OPM secretary discretion on whether to issue vouchers allowing taxpayers to claim the credits. It limits the credits for all building projects to $25 million.

Under the act, eligible projects would receive a base credit that increases with the project's green rating. It allows additional credits for mixed-use projects and those located in certain areas. Taxpayers could claim only 25% of the credit in any tax year, but could carry forward the remainder for up to five years. The credits are transferrable and assignable.

Projects eligible for credits are real estate developments in the state designed to meet or exceed the applicable LEED Green Building Rating System gold certification or an equivalent standard as determined by the DEP commissioner. Eligible projects must use no more than (1) 70% of the energy use permitted by the State Building Code for new construction or (2) 80% of the energy use permitted by the state energy code for a building renovation or rehabilitation. In addition, the project must use equipment and appliances that meet Energy Star standards, if applicable. If a development has more than one building, only the buildings that meet these standards would be eligible for the credit. For newly constructed buildings, the credits apply only to those that receive a certificate of occupancy on or after January 1, 2010.

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