How Green Building Certification Has Helped FMs Save Energy
LEED, Green Globes and other certifications continue to gain momentum as they're proven to decrease energy use and improve employee health and well-being.
Green building continues to be a major market differentiator, and employee wellness is becoming more important for building occupants. Studies show that green and sustainable buildings with third-party certification have lower operating costs and are more attractive to tenants and buyers.
Introduced in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED remains the most used and most recognized “green” certification in the United States. Other guidelines and certifications such as Green Globes, BOMA 360, IREM CSP, to mention only a few, look at buildings and their sustainability goals somewhat differently than LEED. A common barrier still stands in the way of more buildings becoming certified in any of these programs – cost.
Construction management firm Structure Tone recently surveyed senior corporate real estate and facilities management professionals. Questions gauged the participants’ opinions of green certification systems like LEED, challenges associated with green building, and emerging pressure to address wellness and employee comfort in the built environment.
Results from the 2017 survey include:
- Zero respondents consider green building a fad.
- Cost is considered the top barrier that keeps facility managers from adopting sustainable solutions.
- 80 percent of respondents consider employee wellness to be an important factor in recruitment and retention.
- More than 50 percent plan to seek external expertise to incorporate wellness into their buildings.
- 62 percent of respondents identified LEED as a valuable market differentiator, a 9 percent increase from last year.
USGBC recognized the importance of building occupant wellness in the original LEED certification guidelines over 20 years ago. Today, they continue to be a leader in this area by partnering with the International WELL Building Institute to incorporate the WELL Building Standard into LEED certification. USGBC’s Indoor Environmental Quality Credits are enhanced by WELL, another tool for enhancing health and well-being globally.
When the benefits of LEED and WELL certification are analyzed in the total life cycle cost of a building, it becomes obvious that those small, initial costs pale in comparison to the overall costs of the building.
Something experience has shown to be vital when going for LEED or other certification in new buildings, or with major retrofits of existing buildings, is to include someone familiar with the actual operation of the building at the initial and succeeding meetings. The knowledge of the building engineer can be invaluable to both controlling the initial costs and the ongoing operations and maintenance costs.