4  FM quick reads on LEED

1. New State Laws Advance Green Building


Today's tip of the day about USGBC's list of new state laws that advance green building.

Earlier this year, USGBC released its list of Top 10 LEED States (rated per capita). Again, the District of Columbia won by a wide margin.

But a more interesting, and probably more meaningful, top 10 list is the top 10 new state laws that advance green building.

From California to Alabama to Florida to Oklahoma, from requirements that public buildings' energy use be benchmarked to legislation that allows PACE financing, these new laws represent a wide range of impactful and important strategies.

What's exciting about seeing this list of laws is realizing that green building legislation is no longer something only considered in states that vote blue. Indeed, green building in general and energy efficiency specifically are more and more being universally recognized not just as the right thing to do, but also as fiscally sound.

And what's more, several of these new laws (including in Illinois and the District of Columbia) aim to make school buildings more energy efficient and green. The District of Columbia law raises the bar of new school buildings from LEED Silver to LEED Gold. It's hard to disagree that showing children at an early age how important green is can have a huge impact on how they continue to learn and prioritize green.


2.  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.

3.  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

4.  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.


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LEED , Green Building , Legislation

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