RenewAire’s energy recovery and indoor air quality (IAQ) equipment has helped a number of commercial building owners reach sustainability recognition. Now that same equipment, namely energy recovery ventilators (ERV) and dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS), has helped the 35+ year-old HVAC firm’s new 111,000-square-foot manufacturing plant achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ) Gold certification last month.
While the majority of LEED certifications go to high-performing office buildings, educational institutions and government facilities, any LEED level, let alone Gold, is a rare achievement for industrial buildings which account for less than five-percent of all levels of LEED certifications globally, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Industrial building owners typically concentrate more on price per square-foot costs than sustainability, according to the RenewAire project’s consulting engineer, Eric T. Truelove, P.E., GGA, LEED AP, principal of Green Building Resources (GBR), Madison, Wis.
“This new facility supports our mission of fostering sustainability, helping the planet by reducing energy use and at the same time improving human health and wellbeing,” says Chuck Gates, CEO, RenewAire.
The LEED Gold is added to RenewAire’s three Green Globes certification from the Green Building Initiative making this one of a handful of commercial buildings to achieve dual-certification through two independent rating systems. RenewAire is not a newcomer to sustainability, because it received two Green Globes and a LEED Silver certification for its former headquarters, a 32,000-square-foot Madison-based indoor soccer stadium it retrofitted in 2005 for its manufacturing headquarters. When its expanding business demanded a near quadrupling of space, RenewAire gutted a vacant Waunakee, Wis., industrial building in 2017 for its current headquarters.
RenewAire’s stepped up LEED efforts racked up 60 of a possible 110 points, 14 which came from the “Optimize Energy Performance” category. RenewAire’s seven energy recovery ventilators (ERV) and dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) units accounted for nearly 25-percent of the 14 points. The ERVs and DOAS processes also reduce cooling/heating loads and resulted in smaller chillers and boilers, and less refrigerants, which helped earn two points in the refrigerant management category. Other energy performance credits came from LED lighting that cut lighting costs by half versus conventional industrial/office space lighting. Truelove, a 30-year-veteran of the construction and energy industries, who founded Green Building Resources in 2007, also assisted with a design that included split-system cooling systems with energy efficiency ratios (EER) that surpass the Wisconsin State Building Code by 30-percent and condensing boilers that surpass the code minimum by 10-percent for heating. The category also included enhanced commissioning and green power purchases that make this facility carbon-neutral.
While RenewAire achieved a high level of facility sustainability recognition, it was accomplished economically due to strategic planning, according to Truelove who has participated on over 50 LEED and over 100 Green Globes projects. “The costs were managed efficiently, because the added cost of sustainability measures was less than two-percent of the total construction cost in both their building retrofits.”