LEED Credits

Earning LEED Credits

As you pursue LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council  (USGBC), you will be exploring many options to meet your goals. Solar Gard  window film is a proven energy saving product that can directly help you  achieve LEED Credits. Below are six categories within the standard where  solar control window film can be applied towards meeting the criteria for  earning LEED credits.

All buildings, new and existing, applying for LEED certification must meet the  EPA ENERGY STAR® rating of at least 60. Certification for minimum energy  performance requires that building electricity bills, cost, and usage be provided  before improvements are made and that for a given building type and function,  specific energy reduction goals must be met according to the guidelines for the  EPA ENERGY STAR rating.

The energy saving benefits of window film can help companies to achieve the initial rating of 60, and it also can provide additional LEED credits once the baselines are met. Solar energy saving window film is covered by the LEED for Existing Buildings Certification. Details can be found in the USGBC LEED for Existing Buildings Reference Guide, version 2.0, available through the USGBC website.

How Window Film Earns LEED Credits

1. Energy Performance Credits

Buildings that exceed the EPA ENERGY STAR rating of 60 required for  certification can receive up to 10 LEED credits through additional energy  efficiency improvements (LEED E&A Credit #1). The table below shows the  LEED points that can be earned for an existing building based on additional  energy efficiency improvements. Window film alone can provide from one  to four LEED points in energy efficiency improvements, depending on the  environment and the film installed.

2. Credit for Light Pollution Reduction

Light pollution reduction, also known as “Light Trespass”, is covered by  Credit #7 under the “Sustainable Sites” goal. “Light Trespassing” occurs  when lighting used within the building is visible at certain levels in the  surrounding external environment. To qualify for this LEED credit, most of  the internal light must fall within the building. Luminosity measurements  are taken outdoors, with all lights off, and again with all the lights on.  A LEED credit is achieved if the outdoor illumination level does not  increase more than 10% than levels with the “lights on.”

Installing solar control window film will result in a lower amount of visible  light transmission (VLT) through the windows. Window films have varying  degrees of visible light transmission, and films with lower VLT ratings will  greatly reduce light trespass from the building. When choosing a film, you  can consider the amount of likely light trespass in advance and select  specific films with a given target in mind. For example, Stainless Steel 50  can cut light trespass from a window in half.

3. Glare Reduction Credit

Under the Environmental Quality category (EQ #8.2), a credit can be achieved for “providing for glare control features for all windows where direct penetration of sunlight would interfere with normal occupant activities”. This is a goal that works in conjunction with the light pollution requirement in Sustainable Sites Credit 7 for “light trespass”. This requirement can be met by applying window films with a VLT low enough to meet occupant requirements for glare-free activity. For example, Stainless Steel 50, which reduces light trespass, will have the added benefit of glare reduction. Applying this film can eliminate unwanted glare on computer screens and maintain an internal glare free environment, allowing you to pursue both “light trespass and glare reduction” credits in a single application.

4. Thermal Comfort

Improving and maintaining thermal comfort for one LEED Credit is an  option under section EQ 7.1 of the certification program. The performance  measurements are the same as those for the American Society of Heating,  Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55-2004.  ASHRAE 55-2004 is a thermal comfort standard that outlines requirements  for documenting a space as appropriately thermally comfortable for the  occupants. The credit can be met by demonstrating compliance with data  logging temperatures (#7.6.2.2), or by survey, where at least 80% of building  occupants must consider themselves comfortable in the building climate  (#7.6.2.1). This includes mitigating “local discomfort” (#5.2.4) and reducing  temperature variations with time (#5.2.5).

Solar heat transmitted through untreated windows is often the cause of  local discomfort. Occupant complaints about excessive heat or hotspots  can be completely mitigated by applying high performance, solar rejecting  window films (as referenced in section #5.2.4). Solar control window film  excels at moderating temperature variations over time, greatly improving  thermal comfort (as referenced in #5.2.5).

5. Innovation Credits

There is also an innovation category for up to four extra LEED credits that  you can apply for by making a case that a chosen building upgrade, not  currently covered under the LEED for Existing Buildings standard, has  improved the environment of the building.

There are two ways that window film can be used to apply for the innovation  credits. One way is to apply for a credit based on the environmental benefits  provided by blocking ultraviolet radiation through solar control window film.  Window film blocks 99% or more of harmful UV A and UVB rays, which  contribute to skin damage and skin cancer, and are the leading factor causing  fading to interiors. A second eligible credit could be earned if fade reduction  can be applied to reducing waste or improved building maintenance, as  specified in the Materials and Resources section of the standard.

Optimize Your LEED Credits

There are many opportunities to leverage window film when applying for  LEED certification. While some categories seem to contradict each other,  it is important to review the entire set of opportunities and apply for the areas  that will provide the most impact for your building. Solar Gard offers an array  of window films with varying VLTs and heat rejection properties. Analyzing  your building and occupant needs in conjunction with the LEED certification  requirements will help you to select the best film or set of films for your building.