On-Site Renewable Energy

On-site renewable energy systems reduce dependence on finite fossil fuels and decrease environmental impacts, making them a great fit for LEED projects.
Credit: Marshalltownpubliclibrary

Renewable energy is generated from natural resources such as water, sunlight, wind, and geothermal heat, that are not considered finite.

Renewable energy is considered sustainable because it decreases dependence on fossil fuels and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from non-renewable energy use. Green buildings can install renewable energy systems on site to power the building and reduce its environmental impact.

Over time, renewable energy systems can generate a positive return on investment (ROI) for building owners due to financial incentives and structures such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which may require no up front cost. When combined with the reduced need for grid-sourced power. In some states utilities have net metering systems to pay customers who supply incremental energy to the grid.

LEED awards projects that install renewable energy systems on-site. In LEED 2009, On-Site Renewable Energy is a credit in the Energy and Atmosphere category. Projects can receive between 1 and 7 points, on a scale based on how much of the project’s energy costs are met by on-site renewables.

LEED considers photovoltaic solar, wind, solar thermal, biofuels (untreated wood waste, agricultural waste, animal or organic waste, and landfill gas only), geothermal heating and energy, low-impact hydroelectric, and wave or tidal power systems to be on-site renewable energy. LEED does not consider passive solar strategies or architectural features, geo-exchange geothermal systems, nuclear power, large scale hydroelectric systems, or biofuel systems using a fuel other than those specified.

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