The Highpointe Building 2 Project in Killeen, Texas is pursuing LEED Certification under the LEED for Core and Shell 2009 Rating System with the help of the EVstudio team. This is the first certification project that EVstudio has been involved in under the new 2009 LEED Rating Systems. There are quite a few differences between the older versions of LEED and the new, but one of the bigger fundamental differences is the addition of Regional Priority Credits. Regional Priority Credits apply an additional credit to certain LEED criteria that is determined to have greater importance in a particular region. Due to the dry southwest climate and a focus on Water Conservation in the Highpointe Project, one of the Regional Priority Credits is for the Innovative Wastewater Technologies Criteria (Water Efficiency Credit 2 – WEc2). An additional credit will be achieved if the specified water savings for sewage conveyance threshold of 50% is met through either water saving sewage fixtures (toilets & urinals) or through a graywater or rainwater catchment system. In addition, this credit synergizes with the Water Use Reduction Prerequisite (WEp1) and associated Credit (WEc3) and any water savings achieved for the Innovative Wastewater Technologies Credit increases the water savings in the Water Use Reduction Credits as well.
Achieving a 50% reduction in the water used for sewage conveyance is not necessarily the easiest of tasks and is subject to the limitations of both the project itself and the jurisdiction in which it resides. Colorado, for example, only allows rainwater catchment and use under special circumstances and commercial facilities are not allowed. Some jurisdictions provide municipal graywater systems but there can be major costs added to the project budget for adding a whole secondary plumbing system to the building, whether it is municipal or project dedicated. For these reasons, the Innovative Wastewater Technologies Credit (WEc2) isn’t pursued as often on LEED certification projects in the southwest region of the country as many of the more affordable and easily obtainable LEED credits. The credit and its synergies are being sought for the Highpointe Project with the help of an innovative toilet called the Stealth by Niagra Conservation. Considered the first Ultra High Efficiency Toilet (U-HET) the Stealth toilet requires only 0.8 gal. per flush. This is right at 50% less than today’s average toilet which uses 1.6 gal. per flush. In addition, this is significantly more savings even than most of the High Efficiency Toilets (HET) on the market today which typically use 1.28 gal. per flush. The use of this particular fixture in the project boosted the water savings for sewage conveyance to the desired 50%, achieving the criteria for the two credits attributable to the Innovative Wastewater Technology Credit (WEc2) and the additional credit for the Regional Priority Criteria, for a total of three credits under that criteria. In addition, the use of this fixture increased the overall water savings for the building from 30.92% to 46.38% not only achieving all four available credits for the Water Use Reduction Credit (WEc3) but also qualifying the project for an Innovation & Design Credit for Exemplary Performance by reaching beyond the required threshold of 45% Water Use Reduction in the overall building performance. In the end, the toilet specification becomes responsible for helping to achieve a Prerequisite and 8 credits, which is 20% of the credits necessary for certification of the entire project.
This turns out to be a very good example of the effectiveness of the incentive that the Regional Priority Credits are meant to provide as well as the effectiveness of seeking synergies throughout the project in order to utilize the most effective sustainability strategies to the benefit of the specific project. The toilets do not cost any more than other High Efficiency Toilets (HET) on the market and just a little product research and effective team integration made the difference between achieving all eight credits described above or only achieving the criteria required for the Water Use Reduction Prerequisite (WEp1) and a total of two credits for the Water Use Reduction Credit (WEc3).