LEED vs. ENERGY STAR Ratings – What’s the Difference?

April 7, 2011 by Patrick Munar

Air Quality Sciences has a terrific white paper, Primary Green Product Standards and Certification Programs: A Comparison, that compares and contrasts eight green product standards and certification programs, including ENERGY STAR.

The authors of the paper state, “Even though green product standards and certification programs offer helpful guidance and assurances, they have major differences, which leads to confusion in the marketplace.” Because we often get such questions about our Six-Blade HVLS fans, we’re providing information about the difference between LEED certifications and ENERGY STAR ratings.

Q: What’s the difference between LEED and ENERGY STAR?

A: LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. The United States Green Building Council (USBBC) provides third-party certification that a building or community has been designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across the following metrics: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor air quality and stewardship of resources.

ENERGY STAR is the trusted, U.S. government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label was developed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy. Products earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting EPA-developed specifications.

A building, therefore, can receive LEED certification based on a framework that provides points. To achieve basic LEED certification, a building must accrue 40+ points out of a possible 100. (Silver certification is 50+ points; Gold is 60+ points; Platinum is 80+ points. Ten bonus points are given for Innovation in Operations and Regional Priority.)

To achieve a LEED certification, a building designer may incorporate ENERGY STAR-rated products, such as air conditioners, heating equipment, windows, lights, etc.

Q. What is measured by LEED and ENERGY STAR?

A. LEED actually has various rating systems depending on the type of building or community. For buildings, LEED has ratings for new construction, existing buildings, commercial, residential, schools, healthcare, etc.

Products can earn the ENERGY STAR label by delivering the features and performance demanded by consumers in addition to increased energy efficiency. Product energy consumption and performance must be measurable and verified through testing.

Q. How do MacroAir fans help building owners and architects achieve LEED certification? Are MacroAir fans ENERGY STAR rated?

A. In order to meet the LEED standard for the Energy & Atmosphere category, a building has to operate at a certain kilowatt. Because MacroAir fans move so much air at so little horsepower, and because they help architects and HVAC engineers reduce the amount of AC ductwork needed, they assist in dropping the number of kilowatts used.

Volvo, a MacroAir client, recently acquired LEED Silver status by implanting our fans into a new building addition in conjunction with installing an HVAC building management system that controls heating and cooling  e.g. cooling only comes on when people are in that part of the building.

MacroAir fans are not ENERGY STAR-rated. However, HVAC contractors and building designers regularly install our Six-Blade HVLS fans to supplement ENERGY STAR-rated AC systems. Because our fans move so much air over such large areas, they help lower the amount of duct work needed as well as lowering the amount of energy required to run these systems.

MacroAir HVLS fans are the only fans on the market to be AMCA certified, which means the Air Movement and Control Association has certified that our Six-Blade HVLS fans meet specific thrust values for fans over eight feet in diameter.

Do you have other questions about LEED or ENERGY STAR ratings? Post them below and we’ll answer them.

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