Source: HVAC Systems Design Handbook

Chapter

23
Sustainable HVAC Systems
23.1 Introduction Sustainable building design has become very popular in recent years. The most prominent organization promoting sustainability has been the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), which sponsors the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) accredited professional program and the LEED® certified building program.1 In the past few years other professional organizations, such as American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE),2 have joined the sustainable design community. Sustainable design is a term used to help bring awareness to the built environment’s impact on our natural resources, the health and comfort of building occupants, and Earth’s climate. Through the use of Earth-friendly products, recycled materials, rapidly renewable materials (bamboo, cotton, linseed oil, lumber, and recycled products), and renewable energy sources (solar, geothermal, and wind), the impact of new or renovated buildings on Earth’s nonrenewable resources (coal, oil, metals) is reduced, along with the impact on the environment of producing and using nonrenewable resources. Reduction in water use and the use of rainwater for nonpotable water are other areas of sustainable design practice that involve the mechanical engineer. Sustainable design also includes designing buildings that promote a healthy environment for the building occupants. This is accomplished in
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several different ways, including indoor air quality, using products with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), proper lighting levels including natural lighting, and individual control of personal thermal environments. While there are many facets to sustainable building design, this chapter will focus on HVAC impact. If the reader is interested in other areas of sustainable design (in order to fully understand the design philosophy and requirements), please refer to USGBC1 and ASHRAE.2 23.2 Energy-Efficient “Green” Buildings

Most of the energy that is consumed by a building is for heating, cooling, and lighting. Sustainable or “green” building design includes the reduction of energy consumption by the HVAC equipment and lighting through improved design and construction of the building thermal envelope (walls, windows, floors, and roofs) along with higher efficiency in HVAC equipment and lighting. ASHRAE has mandated net-zero energy use for buildings by the year 2030 (this may be revised to an earlier date) as a goal. A net-zero energy use building will generate as much energy as it consumes. This will be accomplished by on-site generation of renewable energy (solar, wind, water, geothermal) coupled with the reduced energy usage through new and existing technologies. ASHRAE Standard 90.14 will continue to require lower energy usage with each new edition. Most model and state building codes require compliance with this accepted standard. This standard is also the foundation for the “Energy and Atmosphere” portion of the USGBC’s LEED® requirement for certification.1 ASHRAE Standard 90.14 has minimum compliance requirements that all buildings have to meet (depending on state code requirements and adoption of this standard). Green building design dictates that the building must exceed the minimum requirement by a certain percentage to obtain “credits” towards the building’s green certification (USGBC). Certification levels are certified, silver, gold, and platinum.1 23.3 HVAC Sustainable Design Approaches

As stated in the preceding section, all new and renovated (there are exceptions in the state or local building codes) buildings must comply with the current ASHRAE Standard 90.14 minimum requirements. The building’s HVAC system must also comply with ASHRAE 62.13 for indoor air quality. (See Chapter 22.) Many HVAC engineers/designers view these two standards as opposites. ASHRAE Standard 90.1 states that buildings must

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meet a minimum energy efficiency requirement in order to obtain a building permit. ASHRAE Standard 62.1 compliance can increase energy usage to heat and cool the outside air in order to achieve a building with acceptable indoor air quality. Let’s take a brief look at both of these building industry standards to determine how the HVAC engineer/designer can meet the requirements. 23.4 Energy Efficiency Compliance

ASHRAE Standard 90.1 requires the HVAC engineer/designer to show minimal compliance by using one of three methods: 1. The prescriptive path method. This can be done using ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guides. 2. The prescriptive path with trade-off options. 3. Energy cost budget (ECB) method. A fourth method is used for green building design, the performance rating method (PRM). It is similar to the ECB method but is based on Appendix G. This method allows for a performance-based approach to determine the energy cost of a minimally compliant building and compares it to proposed improvements to the minimally compliant system. All paths have mandatory requirements that must be met. The ECB method uses a baseline maximum energy cost based on the project’s climate zone. The PRM method is desirable for green building design due to the requirement to compare system energy efficiency improvements over the baseline minimally compliant system. 23.5 Indoor Air Quality Compliance

While the ASHRAE 90.1 Standard calls for minimum energy efficiency requirements, ASHRAE Standard 62.1 mandates minimum outside air requirements to ensure acceptable indoor air quality. This standard has different air flow requirements for various types of space occupancy. (See Chapter 22 for a more in depth discussion of this topic.) Obviously, the higher the outside air requirement, the more energy is required for conditioning the outside air for most weather conditions. While ASHRAE Standard 90.1 requires the use of up to 100 percent outside air for “free cooling,” many areas of the southern United States (such as Florida) have extremely limited time periods (due to temperature and high humidity) during the year that allow this. Therefore, Florida does not require economizer systems. These regions require mechanical cooling all year.

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23.6 Bridging the Gap Between Energy Efficiency Requirements and IAQ Requirements The energy used of a building’s HVAC system can be stated by a few related equations: q = CFM (tr − ts a ) × 1.08 Where q tr tsa CFM 1.08 heat to be removed or added btu⁄hr temperature of the room °F temperature of the supply air °F air flow to the space in ft ⁄min constant at standard air conditions
3

(23.1)

Reducing energy usage requires the reduction of building envelope loads and internal loads (q). Increasing the temperature difference (tr tsa) reduces the amount of air being supplied by the air handling unit and reduces fan horsepower (and initial cost). Total cooling for the system =
density BTUH total = CFM × h( EAT ) − h( LAT ) × 4.5 × 0.075 lbs

(

)

(23.2)

Where
density 0.075 lbs 3
ft

ft 3

h

the air density ratio adjustment based on altitude or temperature (See Table 4.3 for elevation adjustment.) enthalpy, BTU/lbm

In this equation, reduction of the enthalpy of the entering air and/or the CFM will result in lower energy requirements. Reduction in entering air enthalpy to the cooling coil can be done by the use of a form of heat recovery on the relief air to the outside air stream. To lower the enthalpy, the form of heat recovery used must include latent cooling (moisture removal) to result in a lower wet-bulb temperature. This is accomplished by using total energy heat recovery wheels or corrugated heat exchangers with moisture transfer properties. (See Figures 23.1 through 23.6.) The HVAC engineer/designer must consider the following in the design approach of the building’s HVAC system in order to provide a higher-thanbuilding-code efficient system: 1. 2. 3. 4. Perform proper heating and cooling load calculations. Consider decoupled direct to space outside air systems. Use heat recovery systems. Reduce the size of the HVAC plant as allowed by the reclaimed energy from the heat recovery systems. 5. Increase in the water temperature differences ( T). The HVAC profes-

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sional should consider 12 to 14°F T for chilled water systems and 30° to 40°F T for heating water systems. This reduces the pumping energy required for both systems as well as reducing piping sizes and first cost. This may require coils with more rows due to the change in the mean water temperature. 6. Use demand controlled ventilation (DCV). ASHRAE Standard 62.1 allows resetting the amount of outside air based on room carbon-dioxide levels. 7. Use occupancy controls for both lighting and HVAC to shut down lighting and minimize outside air to unoccupied spaces. 8. Use variable flow primary loop piping in chilled water systems in lieu of primary/secondary piping arrangements. 9. Consider the use of geothermal heat pump systems using ground water or ground-coupled heat exchangers. 10. Capture condensate from condensate drain pans and use for cooling tower make-up water or for flushing water closets and urinals. 11. Under floor air systems and displacement air systems can provide smaller air handling unit sizes and very comfortable working spaces within the “breathing zone.” (See Chapter 22.) 12. Right-size equipment. Design systems that are sized properly for the application.
23.6.1 Perform Proper Heating and Cooling Load Calculations

This may sound like a trivial or mundane requirement, but it is one of the most important factors in designing an energy-efficient building. Sometimes the central heating and cooling plant is sized before the heating and cooling load calculations are performed. This calculation is accomplished by using a square feet per ton value or BTU/hr per square foot value for heating plant sizing. Senior engineering staff usually assign this task to the junior staff members. While it is good training, the senior staff member responsible for the HVAC design must review the input and calculation methodology to assure that the calculations are correct. Some engineers and designers do not perform formal computerized heating and cooling load calculations but rather use the CFM/ft2 method and ft2/ton method. This will almost always lead to oversized equipment, ductwork, and electrical services, equipment that will not perform at its peak efficiency. (Chillers are usually most efficient at 80 to 85 percent efficiency.) It is recommended to use the RTS (radiant time series) or TFM (transfer function method) for calculation of cooling loads. (See the latest edition of the ASHRAE Handbook Fundamentals.) These are the most accepted methods. The uses of other methods, such as the TETD method, will likely lead to higher cooling loads.

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Many times the rule-of-thumb of 1 CFM/ft2 for estimating will lead to oversized ductwork and air handling units. Cooling loads for an entire system should generate less than 1 CFM/ft2—typical ranges are 0.7 to 0.9 CFM/ft2. While this may seem incorrect to the seasoned HVAC professional (because we are usually trained to use 1 CFM/ft2), newer building technologies (lower lighting power, higher building envelope R-values, and advanced fenestration products) allow for lower CFM/ft2 values. If a VAV system is being considered, the space CFM/ft2 will be less than the calculated value for most of the day. Therefore, arbitrarily increasing the design air flow for higher than the calculated CFM/ft2 value increases the ductwork and equipment size. This larger equipment size will probably never be used to its full capacity during the life of the system. Variable air volume systems should be sized using the block cooling load, not the peak cooling load. Many engineers/designers do not understand the difference, or they believe a safety factor for sizing their equipment is a must. Again, if a proper computerized load calculation is performed, this is not required. (See Chapter 4.)
23.6.2 Direct-to-Room Outside Air Systems

Independent (decoupled) outside air systems that deliver directly to the conditioned space result in lower outside air quantities than those indirectly delivering the outside air (mixed with return air) to the space via the supply air system. This is because the multispace calculation specified by ASHRAE 62.13 is not required. The air delivered to the space through the outside air system can be part of the space heating and cooling, although it is usually delivered at room conditions. In the heating period, the air can be delivered at the space temperature. During the cooling periods, the air can be delivered at 55°F. This will reduce the size of the main supply air handling system while addressing the concern of dehumidification (or humidification during the winter).
23.6.3 Heat Recovery Systems

Heat recovery systems come in many types: air side, water side, and combination: 1. Air-side systems include total enthalpy desiccant wheels that rotate between the “hot” air steam and the “cool” air stream. Energy exchange is always from a higher energy state to a lower energy state. The wheel rotates from one air stream to another to accomplish the heat exchange. (See Figures 23.1 and 23.2.) 2. “Plate-type” or corrugated air side heat recovery devices are becoming popular in recent years. This is due to newer developments in materials that allow for the exchange of water molecules using vapor pressure but do not allow cross-contamination of air streams. (See Figure 23.3.)

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Figure 23.1 Total enthalpy heat wheel. Courtesy of SEMCO, Inc.

Filters Outside Air 90 F D.B. / 80 F W.B.

Preheat Coil Cooling Coil

Supply Fan

Relief Air

Return Fan

Return Air 77 F D.B/ 64F W.B

Total enthaply heat wheel rotates between two air streams

Filters

Total Enthaply Heat Recovery Wheel With AHU

Figure 23.2

AHU with heat recovery wheel diagram.

Transfer Low Vapor Pressure Charged groups attached to the polymer backbone draw water into the plastic SOs– SOs– SOs– SOs–

Energy Transfer Material

High Vapor Pressure

Water Molecules

Micro-polymer plastic total energy heat exchanger. Courtesy of Dias Analytic Corporation.
Figure 23.3

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An example of calculated energy savings for a corrugated flat plate total enthalpy heat recovery ventilator is shown in Figure 23.4. In this example, 11.1 tons of total cooling is saved with 69 pounds of water removed per hour. (See Figure 23.5 for the psychrometric analysis.)
23.6.4 Cooling and Heating Plant Size Reduction

If energy recovery equipment is being incorporated in the design, the HVAC engineer/designer should consider reducing the heating and cooling plant capacities by the amount of energy reclaim provided by the energy recovery devices. This will lead to short- and long-term benefits for the first cost and operating cost of the system. Many engineers are reluctant to include this credit in the sizing of their systems. This is a mandatory requirement of the State of Ohio Board of Education for any school design in the state that uses taxpayers’ dollars. This writer was one of two original authors of this requirement. Incorporating this credit in the sizing of the equipment will allow for smaller hydronic piping systems, lower horsepower for fans and pumps, smaller coils, and small electrical services that feed this equipment.
23.6.5 Increased Temperature Difference for Hydronic Systems

Increasing the design temperature difference between supply and return water temperatures for chilled water and heating water systems can allow for substantial energy savings. Typical design temperatures for chilled water systems are 45°F entering water temperature (EWT) and 55°F leaving water temperature (LWT) for cooling coils. Increasing this temperature difference by 2 to 4° can result in smaller piping and pumping systems. There is a slight impact on the sizing of the chilled water coils due to the increased mean water temperature. This is usually just a minimal firstcost item and has little to no effect on the life cycle cost of the building if properly selected. Using the following given data, look at the difference between a 10° and a 14°F T: Given: Cooling load System flow Head pressure loss Pump efficiency 2500 MBH 500 GPM at 10°F T 70 feet 70%

Using equation 1.5.7 from Chapter 1: BHP =

(GPM ) × ( ft hd ) ( 3960) × ( eff )

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Flat plate type total enthalpy heat recovery system. Courtesy of Dias Analytic Corporation.
Figure 23.4

Flat plate type total enthalpy heat recovery psychrometric chart. Chart produced with HDPsyChart Software by Hands Down Software.
Figure 23.5

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RETURN AIR 8000 CFM, 75.0 degrees F D.B. 63.0 degrees F W.B. 51.6% RH, HUMIDITY 67.1 gr/lb ENTHALPY 28.5 BTU/Lb

OA 4000 CFM 95 degrees F D.B. 75 degrees F W.B. 47.3% RH HUMIDITY 118 gr/lb ENTHALPY 41.4 BTU/Lb

OA2 4000 CFM 82.3 degrees F D.B. 70.1 degrees F W.B. 55.0% RH HUMIDITY 91.3 gr/lb

MA 12,000 CFM 77.4 degrees F D.B. 65.5 degrees F W.B. 53.2% RH HUMIDITY 75.0 gr/lb X ENTHALPY 30.3 BTU/Lb

SA 12,000 CFM 55.0 degrees F D.B. 54.0 degrees F W.B. 94.0% RH HUMIDITY 60.7 gr/lb ENTHALPY 22.6 BTU/Lb X

ROOM 12,000 CFM 75.0 degrees F D.B. 62.5 degrees F W.B. 50.0% RH HUMIDITY 64.9 gr/lb ENTHALPY 28.2 BTU/Lb

+

ENTHALPY 34.1 BTU/Lb

DESICCANT DEHUMIDIFICATION

AIR MIXING

COOLING COIL

CONNECT STATES

TOTAL ENERGY - 122,579 Btu/hr SENSIBLE ENERGY -52,172 Btu/hr LATENT ENERGY -70,407 Btu/hr SENSIBLE HEAT RATIO 0.426 EVAPORATION -63.8 lb/hr -7.6 gal/hr

TOTAL ENERGY - 403,265 Btu/hr SENSIBLE ENERGY -285,683 Btu/hr LATENT ENERGY -117,582 Btu/hr SENSIBLE HEAT RATIO 0.708 MOISTURE REMOVAL -107.3 lb/hr -12.9 gal/hr

Figure 23.6

Flow chart analysis for flat plate heat recovery unit. Chart produced with HDPsyChart Software by Hands Down Software.

At 10°F T, the pump brake horsepower is: 12.6 BHP = Flow at 14°F T is: 2, 500, 000 = 357 GPM 500 × 14 Assuming 70 ft head loss: 9.01 BHP =

(500) × (70) ( 3960) × (0.70)

( 357) × (70) ( 3960) × (0.70)

The savings is 28 percent brake horsepower.

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Sustainable HVAC Systems 23.6.6 Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV)

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Controlling ventilation by using a particular contaminant in the air is widely known and has been a source of debate over the last 20 years. The primary contaminant that is used to adjust the amount of ventilation used by an HVAC system is carbon dioxide. However, there have been other sensors that use carbon dioxide as well as other particular contaminants (volatile organic compounds, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, organic acids, amines, and aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons) in determining the “quality” of the indoor air. Controlling the amount of outside air used by a HVAC system based on an indicator contaminant results in a substantial reduction of energy usage. In many cases, the use of carbon dioxide monitoring as an indicator of indoor air quality will be sufficient. This usually applies to buildings with a substantial number of people (churches, theaters, classrooms, and performing arts venues) or buildings (such as office buildings) where there are no other contaminates expected. Carbon dioxide monitoring needs to be set with the normal ambient carbon dioxide level when the space is unoccupied (or the ambient CO2 level). Typical set point levels are between 500 PPM and 1000 PPM depending on ambient CO2 concentration. The baseline for all building DCV systems must include a minimum amount of outside air to: 1. Maintain the building under positive pressure with respect to the outside at all times. 2. Maintain the ASHRAE Stanard 62.13 space area component requirements for ventilation air at all times. (This portion of the Standard is for dilution of building component off-gassing; see also Chapter 22.) Another method of DCV is to provide space occupancy sensors. These are usually required by the state or local building code to control the lighting in the space. If the system is a VAV system and each space (such as a classroom) has a dedicated VAV terminal box, the space occupancy sensor can be used to reset the outside air portion of the air handling system to account for that space’s occupancy. However, the same conditions as mentioned for CO2 monitoring apply to DCV by occupancy sensors.
23.6.7 Variable Primary Chilled Water Systems

Many larger chilled water systems utilize a primary/secondary flow arrangement with the primary loop (chiller loop) decoupled from the secondary loop (building/coil loop). The primary loop utilizes constant speed pumps that maintain constant flow through the associated chiller. The secondary loop has variable flow to the building’s air handling units. Energy is saved (as compared to a constant flow system with three-way control valve) by varying the voltage frequency (between 4 to 60 Hz) to the pump motors in response to a differential pressure set point between the supply

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and return chilled water mains at a point near the last air handling unit coil (Figure 8.7). (See Chapter 8). Variable primary chilled water systems accomplish nearly the same result as the primary/secondary system arrangements without the secondary pumps. Flow is varied through the chillers—something that this writer was taught many years ago was forbidden due to the concern that evaporator tubes would freeze—between minimum and maximum flow set points (as defined for the specific chiller model by the manufacturer). Variable-speed pumps are used to vary the flow through the entire system (Figure 23.7).
Valve opens when chiller runs

Exp. Tank

VFD

Chiller FM Flow meter sets chiller flow range VFD FM Chiller

Bypass

AHU coil or cooling load

Control Valve (2-way)

Other loads CHWR CHWS

Figure 23.7

Variable primary chilled water system.

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Sustainable HVAC Systems 23.6.8 Geothermal Heat Pump Systems

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Geothermal heat pumps have been around for many years. There are basically two types of systems. The first type is generally called a “ground-coupled” system. The second is a “ground-water” system. Both types utilize a water loop to absorb and reject the heat gains of the building or provide heating for the building by extraction to/from the water loop. The systems have an EER (energy efficiency ratio) of 15 to 22. ASHRAE Standard 90.1 requires a minimum EER of 16.2 for these systems. The (condenser) water loop for the ground-coupled system is a series of vertical or horizontal loops that extend into the earth through borings. The typical capacity for one bore hole of 250 to 300 feet is approximately one ton. The “borings” are drilled in a matrix pattern. Each boring hole receives U-shaped piping (usually made of a special polyethylene material) that is grouted to the earth. Each boring is then connected in parallel to the main underground supply and return distribution piping headers. If a reverse-return piping arrangement is used, balancing valves are mostly eliminated. The HVAC designer/engineer needs to perform the proper heat balance calculations for the earth (as the earth becomes the heat sink and heat source). If heat is not extracted at a rate equivalent (for the year) to the amount deposited by the cooling (for the year), the earth will start to gradually warm over a period of years. This may lead to poor performance of the system during the cooling months. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) is the main source of research and training for this type of system. It offers training and software for determining the size, depth, and performance of ground coupled heat-exchangers. The major benefits of the closed-loop ground-coupled system are: 1. Less chance of ground-water contamination 2. Longer heat exchanger (condenser water) life for each heat pump due to the ability to control groundwater loop water chemistry 3. Silt sediment from the ground eliminated 4. No possibility of microbial induced corrosion (MIC) due to no direct use of ground water (MIC is a bacterium that causes metal corrosion.) The second basic type of geothermal heat pump utilizes ground water. Ground water is directly or indirectly (with a heat exchanger) used to perform the same function as the ground-coupled systems described previously. These systems have the following advantages as compared to ground-coupled systems: 1. Reduced first cost due to not having one bore hole per ton of cooling 2. Efficiency increased due to the direct use of ground water 3. Can also be used with a heat exchanger to isolate the building loop from the ground loop; this requires a minimum of two water pumps (See Figure 23.8.)

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GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP

GEX

GEOTHERMAL HEAT EXCHANGER

GRADE GROUND WATER LEVEL

Figure 23.8

Groundwater geothermal heat pump system with heat exchanger.

23.6.9 Underfloor Air Distribution Systems

The green building movement has renewed the interest in underfloor air distribution systems (UFAD). UFAD systems generally require the use of a raised, accessible flooring system. UFAD systems supply air either directly to the floor plenum, or the systems are ducted to floor supply air outlets. The supply air is introduced to the space generally 10 to 12°F warmer than a conventional overhead supply system for occupant comfort. The theory behind these systems, which makes them attractive to almost any building type, is that the air is delivered directly to the breathing zone (see Chapter 22), and this system allows the flexibility of occupant control and is suitable for buildings with high churn rates (Figure 23.9). UFAD systems require somewhat of a departure from our normal design thinking. Since we must supply warmer air to the space for occupant comfort, we must consider the occupied zone (generally 72 to 84 inches above the finished floor level) in our thought process. This is the area of the space that must meet the comfort requirements of ASHRAE Standard 55. The air temperature above the occupied zone can be allowed to increase with the height of the space. This places a substantial amount of the space heat gain directly to the return air side of the air handling unit. The HVAC engineer/designer must determine the amount of supply air at 65 to 67°F that is required to achieve the occupied zone cooling and allow the remainder of the heat gain to be included in the return air system.

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Stratification height

Figure 23.9

UFAD system example.

Generally speaking, the convective loads that occur above the occupied zone, such as lighting, can be included in the return air system, since the system operates from the top of the space. Additional information on calculation and correct assignment of the loads (occupied zone or stratification zone) can be found in ASHRAE publications or in several UFAD manufacturers’ design guides. UFAD systems require the mixing of a portion of the return air stream with the 55°F leaving air from the cooling coil to send the desired 65 to 67°F to the space. Fan speed is usually controlled by space temperature through a variable frequency motor drive. 23.7 Summary

This chapter has provided a brief outline of some of the possibilities for sustainable HVAC design. Although it is not meant to be all-inclusive, it gives the reader the basic ideas behind designing an energy-efficient HVAC system. These ideas should be used every day regardless of the desire to have a certified green building.

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References
1. 2. 3. 4. United States Green Building Council, LEED® Version 2.2. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE Standard 62.1, 2007 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. ASHRAE Standard 90.1, 2007 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.

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