4  FM quick reads on LEED-EBOM

1. How To Keep Momentum After A LEED-EBOM Certification?

Today's tip of the day is LEED-EBOM certification, and how to keep your building operating as efficiently as it did the day the plaque was hung on the wall.

Generally, the idea of "bridging the gap" between design and operations is a new construction notion — but it should applied to existing buildings as well, especially for buildings that have spent the time, energy, and money to become LEED-EBOM certified.

LEED EBOM encourages continuous improvement and even recertification well after the plaque is on the wall. But that doesn't that continuous improvement will happen automatically. It takes a focused approach and a dedication to goal-setting and goal-achieving to ensure that operations continue to be efficient. In fact, one facility manager's only-partially-facetious advice about the first thing to do after you get your LEED plaque is to throw it away.

The LEED plaque is merely a piece of recognition that your building did well in terms of energy and water use for a short period of time. But to get better, facility managers must stay on top of all the initiatives they put in place as a result of their LEED initiative.

Additionally, facility managers must constantly engage building occupants and upper managers with contests, newsletters, and other forms of regular communication. This lets them know that LEED goals continue after certification and that continuous improvement — especially in terms of energy and water savings — is the real goal.

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

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.

Where To Start With LEED-EBOM

Today's tip is about where to start with LEED-EBOM.

"Hey, have we ever looked into this LEEDS (sic) for Existing Buildings thing?" your CFO asks you one morning.

"We have, but not seriously," you reply, with a sort of sinking feeling, because you know what's coming next.

"Well, let's give it a try, I think," she says. "I'd like to put that our building is Platinum in the next annual report. Let me know what it'll take and how much it'll cost."

The problem is, your 95-year-old corporate headquarters building is hovering at an Energy Star score of 56, and since your capital budget has been cut every year for the last five years, you haven't had the opportunity to make energy upgrades to improve it much.

Indeed, your building, for the time being, isn't even a candidate for LEED-EBOM. That's because a prerequisite of certification is a minimum Energy Star score of 69.

So what do you do? The inclination of many FMs would be to simply throw up their hands and decide to put LEED off until later — whenever "later" might be. As Jenny Carney, a principal with YR&G Sustainability Consulting says, when you do your EBOM credit gap analysis, and realize you're too far away, it can be a quick stopping point.

It's one of the main differences between EBOM and NC - with NC, all the prerequisites require about the same amount of effort, Carney said. But with EBOM, you could spend two years just getting your building up to the prerequisite-level Energy Star score.

In this case, the best strategy, she said, is to set incremental goals. Obviously, you're not going to be able to go from uncertified to LEED-EBOM Platinum in six months. Instead, build in milestone markers and budget accordingly.

As with most challenges, this is an opportunity in disguise. As you go through and work on your efficiency projects, there's nothing that says you can't begin implementing other operational policies and procedures for which you can get credit in EBOM. That way, on that exciting day when your building finally reaches your Energy Star goal, you'll be all ready to take the next step for certification.



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