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LEED Certification for Multiple Buildings

May 15, 2013 - Green

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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