Chapel Hill, North Carolina passed an “Energy Conservation in Design and Construction of New and Renovated Town Buildings” ordinance to require the greening of public buildings. The ordinance makes it mandatory for new municipal buildings and additions greater than 5,000 square feet to achieve “Silver” level LEED certification. The ordinance also gives the Town Council authority to require buildings and additions smaller than 5,000 square feet to achieve LEED silver certification. The ordinance does not apply to retrofits or renovations of the Town’s existing buildings or to the construction or renovation of public housing units (though the Council “encourages the application of LEED principles for these projects”). The ordinance automatically adopts the current applicable version of the LEED rating system in existence at the time the relevant project is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
Under the ordinance, Chapel Hill will carry out its commitment to this policy by assuring that town personnel who administer projects are fully understanding of green building principles and will encourage the selected design teams to maintain and employ these principles through every phase. Criteria for choosing designers, architects, construction managers, and consulting teams shall include demonstrated knowledge of green building practices in their specific fields, and as applicable, a familiarity and experience with life cycle cost analysis and LEED ratings.
In order to be selected to design a town building, project teams are required to include a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) architect or engineer who is involved directly in the day-to-day management of the project. A waiver from the LEED silver requirement may be given if a LEED AP on the project team determines that the silver standard could not be met without increasing project costs by more than 7%.
Chapel Hill’s ordinance also contains robust energy provisions, going beyond what is required in the LEED rating systems. The ordinance charges a project’s architect or engineer with monitoring the energy performance of the building and assisting town staff in optimizing the energy use of the building during its first year. A project’s contract for design services must include a requirement to produce – as part of the construction documents - a commissioning plan that must include provisions for initial commissioning upon completion of construction and provisions for a commissioning evaluation to take place after the building has a 12-month utility billing history. This 12-month commissioning evaluation will include testing and evaluation of all energy-consuming building systems to verify that they are performing as designed, that all required operations and maintenance training has been completed, and that the building is being operated and maintained in accordance with the instruction of the designer and equipment manufacturers. The town manager may either require these commissioning services of the project architect or the project engineer. In addition, the town manager's annual report to council will include a section reporting the energy consumption performance of each new town building or town building addition required to comply with the provisions of this article.