What is the LEED certificate?
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system is an instrument capable of measuring the eco-sustainability of a building that was developed in the USA in 1994 and formulated in full for the first time in 1998. The LEED certification is, first of all, a tool to evaluate homogeneously the building sustainability of a project based on the concept of environmental sustainability as has been determined in the last thirty years of studies.
The LEED protocol and the certificates issued by its committee also encourage the development of an integrated building design that is aimed at achieving full environmental sustainability and healthy competition between the most important companies in the sector.
Naturally, AKNO, in particular with its AKNO Energy section, has been committed for years to eco-sustainability and green building in the wake of the Italian LEED protocol drawn up by the Green Building Council Italy.
We believe that committing to environmental sustainability when you have the responsibility to design, construct and manage a building is not only a duty to our planet and future generations, but is also a tool to demonstrate your own competence and professionalism generating an economic advantage.
In this article we would like to give a first overview of some aspects of our work related to the theme of building sustainability, with the intention of proposing insights focused on individual issues in the future.
Rainwater recovery systems have a fundamental bearing on one of the essential elements of our ecosystem: water. Constructing rainwater recovery tanks in our buildings and integrating them with appropriate filtering and pumping systems is not only a significant contribution to the reduction of per capita drinking water requirements, but also a way to achieve substantial economic savings of up to 50% of the bill.
Italian legislation on rainwater recovery is still largely incomplete, but by relying on the best international standards, we can create systems that allow those who rely on us for building design to obtain numerous advantages in the management phase. Rainwater recovery for domestic use or irrigation allows a greater saving in operating costs the more efficient the collection and filtration system is and by its careful and constant maintenance.
The energy saving challenge
Saving energy, according to eco-sustainability building mandates, basically means doing two things: consume less and produce better. On one hand, energy sustainability can be taken care of by reducing the energy needed to operate a building by installing low energy consumption lamps, for example, or creating thermal break fixtures that limit heat loss, or, at the same time, you can produce energy in a sustainable way, such as with photovoltaic panels or biogas plants.
Low consumption LED lamps are now widespread in all types of buildings and are an excellent way to reduce energy consumption needed for room lighting. On the other hand, AKNO always favours the cheapest light source on the market in its designs: natural light.
By creating skylights and large windows in our buildings, we tend to minimise the use of artificial lighting. Through the use of transparent surfaces created and positioned with due design expertise, we can significantly reduce both the costs associated with artificial lighting and the energy consumption associated with it.
Wooden or steel fixtures with a thermal break, on the other hand, are special glass surfaces that use double or triple glazing and gas-filled cavities so that they dissipate much less heat to the outside than traditional fixtures. In the latest version of these products, the low-emission nature of the glass used means that the heat introduced into the room by solar radiation can easily enter through the fixture without any significant reflection or dispersion of the radiated thermal power.
There is no doubt that this type of fixture significantly reduces the energy consumption due to heating rooms in winter, therefore reducing one of the largest items of expenditure that make up the budget for building management. In conclusion, by reducing the building’s energy requirements, we obtain an advantage both from an environmental and an economic point of view, as is the case for almost all aspects related to environmental sustainability in buildings.
Producing clean energy
In energy production, everyone now knows about the existence of renewable energy sources and the problem of carbon dioxide emissions, but the use of alternative sources in an environmentally sustainable way is not yet as widespread as is necessary. There are many causes for this delay but one of them probably is the lack of knowledge of new technologies that make some of these energy sources more efficient and therefore convenient.
In our buildings, for example, we make extensive use of photovoltaic solar panels with polycrystalline or monocrystalline modules. These are two different materials that can be used in different situations to achieve maximum results in terms of energy efficiency.
Polycrystalline photovoltaic modules are characterised by a lower cost than monocrystalline ones and therefore lend themselves to be used on large surfaces without prohibitive system costs. On the other hand, they have the ability to exploit sunlight effectively even when they are not hit in a direction exactly perpendicular to their surface.
On the contrary, monocrystalline photovoltaic modules, which are much more expensive, have a very high efficiency when they are irradiated perpendicularly to their surface, whereas they are practically inert if hit by other directions. Therefore, their use is not recommended for large areas, but is optimal when you have limited areas with excellent exposure.
Another system of energy production we use in our buildings is the combustion of biogas. This type of fuel is derived entirely from organic waste and is therefore considered renewable because it is produced by farms or other activities in the agricultural sector and so is not subject to depletion.
Another advantage of biogas is the ease of its supply and the drastic reduction in transport costs compared to the fossil fuel sources that it replaces. Moreover, due to the characteristics of the chemical composition of this fuel, combustion of biogas produces much less carbon dioxide than that produced by fossil fuels.
Therefore, producing clean energy with photovoltaic panels and biogas combustion, is not only a way to protect the environment, but also results in significant economic savings reducing the operating budget of real estate built by AKNO using its professionalism and technical expertise.