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LEED Certification Doesn’t Save Energy, Events2HVAC Does

A 2021 study from Carnegie Mellon University found that federal buildings with LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) are not using less energy after certification than they were before certification.

Why? Though the buildings are indeed more energy efficient, there are trade-offs in energy use that negate energy savings, the authors explained.

“We find that there were no energy savings from LEED certification, on average, and that this seems to be driven by trade-offs across LEED attributes. Our estimates show no effect of LEED certification on average energy consumption in kBTUs/ft. This reflects the fact that energy use is one of a number of attributes that receives scores under the LEED program. Buildings with higher energy scores have greater energy efficiency post-certification. This may reflect, for example, the adoption of high efficiency lighting and high efficiency HVAC. Having a one standard deviation higher energy score is associated with 17.2% lower energy usage in all buildings and 18.1% lower usage in office buildings. Some other attributes, notably higher water scores, decrease energy efficiency post-certification. This may reflect, for example, the use of sensors for water in sinks and toilets in bathrooms and sensors for water in landscaping. These trade-offs across LEED attributes seem to account for the absence of energy savings on average.” (Clay, K., Severnini, E., & Sun, X. (2021). Does LEED Certification Save Energy? Evidence from Federal Buildings. IZA DP (No. 14211), 2-3. )

The authors said that the US Government has placed a high priority on LEED certification of buildings in the last 20 years in its effort to use less energy. But their research led them to conclude that LEED certification might not be the most effective way to reach that goal.

In contrast, Events2HVAC reduces energy use 20-30% in many types of facilities and uses no sensors or other devices to negate energy savings achieved. Events2HVAC software is often installed on a server already on site and used for other purposes. In other facilities, Events2HVAC runs on an Intel NUC mini-PC, which requires less energy than a typical server. So very little energy is used to run the software, and no sensors of any kind are needed.

So how does Events2HVAC save energy without sensors?

Events2HVAC pulls class, event, or meeting schedules from room reservation systems such as Ad Astra, CollegeNet 25Live, EMS, Microsoft Exchange/Office365, Planning Center Calendar, and many others, and sends commands to HVAC controls to automatically return HVAC to unoccupied settings between each scheduled event. Because the average classroom, conference room, or meeting space is used for an hour or two at a time rather than all day long, returning HVAC to unoccupied settings between each scheduled event reduces energy use 20-30% in many types of facilities. (See Case Studies.)

Here is an example from a community college using Events2HVAC in classroom buildings.

The Blue bars in the chart above are the total hours of HVAC “occupied” time for each month based on the whole building schedule used previously. The Green bars are the total hours of “occupied” time for all the classrooms after implementing Events2HVAC. The Orange bars are the total hours that HVAC ran at “unoccupied” settings, reducing energy use.

While the savings appear huge in the chart, with numbers like 71% hours avoided, remember that the HVAC is still using some energy when running at “unoccupied” settings – just not as much as it uses at “occupied” setpoints. Additional analysis would need to be done to determine the energy savings.

If you would like to learn more about Events2HVAC or get a proposal for your building(s), please contact or call (888) 320-4277 x1.


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