I remember several years ago when LEED certification began to really take off and everyone was excited about how much energy each building project was going to save by being LEED certified. It only took a few years before that energy-efficient building was being occupied and the projected operating cost savings just weren’t there. In fact, there were newspaper and magazine articles written about some of these new buildings that displaced older buildings. What was being highlighted in these stories was that the new energy-efficient facilities were actually using more energy than their predecessors. If that wasn’t bad enough, these new high-performance buildings’ automation systems were very, very complicated to operate — often, the controls were simply overridden, with the controls placed in manual operation.
Back then, I wrote a couple of columns about how measurement and verification were critical to assuring energy conservation performance success, but measurement and verification were an option and not a prerequisite with LEED, so a lot of time and money was lost until design-to-actual energy consumption started to be measured. Today, we have a new panacea for reducing energy and saving the planet … net zero designs.