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Have a hunt for Nicole Sullivan's (@stubornella) presentation on OP CSS.
It'll be on her blog or slideshare somewhere and should give you some good ideas.
I, too, think that the effect on rendering speed should not be
significant—see e.g. Steve Souders’s work on selectors —however you
are guaranteed to run into maintenance issues. Consider using
functional or generic ID and class names  (they may very well be
Jens O. Meiert