4 tips on LEED
1. GSA Keeps LEED as Its Standard of Choice
Today's tip of the day is about the General Service Administration's (GSA's) decision to continue to use LEED as its standard of choice.
Recently, GSA's Green Building Advisory Committee officially recommended that LEED be the rating system of choice for all government buildings. The decision represents a big win for the U.S. Green Building Council — LEED had been the GSA's rating system of choice since 2006, and the Green Building Advisory Committee's recommendation all but ensures GSA will keep LEED as its preferred green building rating system.
How did we get to this point? Here's a bit of history. In early 2012, as it is required to do every five years by 2007's Energy Independence and Security Act, the "government's landlord" began evaluating alternate rating systems to determine which might be "best." (Using more than one rating system for its buildings was also a distinct possibility.)
In the summer of 2012, as GSA was in the midst of its evaluation, more than 1,250 business and organizations sent a letter to GSA asking them to keep LEED as its standards, citing LEED as the "most widely used high-performance building rating system in the United States," and so GSA switching systems would add cost to the building and leasing industry as a whole.
Then, this spring, GSA issued a request for information asking how rating systems could accelerate its green building plans. USGBC responded with an infographic it calls LEED in Motion illustrating how LEED has and will continue to drive market transformation. USGBC pointed out that, in part because of its use of LEED, GSA has reduced energy use at its buildings nearly 20 percent since 2003.
2. A Refresher on LEED-EBOM Recertification
Today's tip is a refresher on what you need to know about LEED-EBOM recertification. As LEEDv4 is due out in the fall, now is a good time to ensure you have a solid understanding of one the cornerstone aspects of the LEED-EBOM rating system.
Indeed, recertification tenets at least once every five years is one of the most important aspects of the rating system that grades facility managers on ongoing operations and maintenance. It's one of the main ways facility managers can bridge the gap from design to operations, and then ensure that the building operates efficiently and sustainably long term.
The reason why the re-certification requirement is important, says Michael Arny, president of Leonardo Academy, is because all a LEED certification plaque - whether EBOM or New Construction - really says is that at some point in the past, the building was sustainable. The plaque says nothing about the current state of sustainability. In fact, says Arny, a LEED certification plaque hanging in the lobby is a little like a five-year-old review on display at a restaurant. What's to say the quality hasn't gone way downhill?
So, making sure sustainable goals are still on track is critical. "Recertification is important because it's a course correction," says Arny, who recommends recertification every two to three years, as opposed to the five-year minimum. Recertification helps ensure the building continues to perform as well as it did the day you hung the plaque on the wall. What's more, if facility managers sustain on the strategies implemented to attain the initial LEED certification, are continuously commissioning building systems, and are faithfully collecting and analyzing data, then recertification should be a slam dunk.
Arny says he recommends registering your project for recertification and setting a firm timeline immediately after you receive your latest recertification. That way, you set a deadline for completing the work. Another benefit is that you lock in the version of LEED at the time of registering, so you don't have to worry about trying to conform to future changes to LEED.
As far as refuting the fact that paying the money for formal re-certification isn't worth it, Arny says the same argument for first-time certification applies. Third-party verification of your sustainable initiatives is always more credible to upper managers than simply just telling them you're doing well
3. What Is the LEED Pilot Credit Library?
Whether stereos or Subarus, it's natural to want to try things out before we put them into practice. A few years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council launched its Pilot Credit Library with the idea of giving users a chance to "test drive" LEED credits before members vote on whether they wind up in the next full-version iteration of the LEED rating system (LEEDv4 is due out this fall).
The Pilot Credit Library currently includes more than 100 credits covering strategies ranging from acoustics to rainwater management. Many of these have a good shot at being included in the next version of LEED.
The credits included in the Pilot Credit Library span all of the LEED rating systems. But some apply only to a few. For instance, the certified products credit only applies to the building design and construction rating systems (New Construction, Commercial Interiors, Core and Shell, Schools, Healthcare). The reason is that the credit awards the point based on a percentage of products selected at the time of design.
You've probably heard the most about two pilot credits, in particular. One is the Energy Jumpstart Pilot Credit (EAp2) - which allows LEED-EBOM building owners an alternate path to achieve the LEED-EBOM certification, if their building isn't able to achieve a 75 Energy Star score. The credit allows building owners to reduce energy by 20 percent from an established baseline and still receive a Certified level certification.
The other significant pilot credit is EAp8 - Demand Response. The U.S. Green Building Council and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) are currently working on forming a Demand Response Partnership Program with utilities all over the country - Southern California Edison being the first participant. And the Demand Reponse Pilot Credit helps pave the road to that partnership by offering building owners using LEED-EBOM and project teams using LEED-NC credit for participating in a demand response program.
So, pilot credits offer project teams and facility managers a great way to try out some new, innovative sustainable strategies.
4. LEED Certification for Multiple Buildings
Today's tip of the day is about guidance for LEED certification for multiple buildings.
LEED certifications have become a little like baseball statistics — these days, it takes a lot of qualifications to make them stand out. For instance, it's not uncommon to hear something like this on the nightly highlight shows: "This was the first time in Major League history a 30-year-old catcher got two doubles and a home run off a left-handed pitcher during a Tuesday night game that had a 37-minute rain delay."
These days, when I get press releases about single-building LEED certifications, they have a similar ring: "This is only the third LEED-EBOM certified multitenant building at the Gold level in Chicago," as one made-up example.
That's not to diminish the accomplishment of a LEED certification. Clearly, any certification is a laudable environmental mission accomplished. But especially for organizations that own multiple buildings, the focus should by now have turned to a systematic approach to certification, rather than a single "showcase" building.
For that reason, among others, USGBC has ramped up its efforts in recent years to give facility managers tools to certify several buildings at once. Last fall at Greenbuild, USGBC released the LEED for Volume for New Construction system. In 2011, at the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) conference, LEED Volume for Existing Buildings followed.
Then, later in 2011, USGBC released Part 2 of its LEED Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (AGMBC). Part 1, which came out in 2010, gives facility managers guidance on how to certify projects individually on a new or existing campus. Part 2 gives guidance to help certify a group of projects as a package under single registration, and to receive a single certification.
While both LEED Volume and the AGMBC are useful tools for certifying multiple buildings, the differences between the two are subtle, but important. Volume is more intended to certify many, many buildings over a diverse geographical area. Indeed, according to Doug Gatlin of USGBC, owners or facility managers enter the program with at least 25 projects, savings on LEED fees will be about 17 percent. With 100 projects, the savings would be 70 percent. Facility managers submit templates of designs or facility management policies and practices, and the buildings certified must be similar.
AGMBC, on the other hand, gives guidance for certifying buildings on a single campus — like a college or corporate complex. It's intended to be used on a bit smaller scale than Volume; to help facility managers draw boundaries and build campuswide policies that will lead to LEED certification.
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