USGBC Perspective: New Platform Helps FMs Share, Benchmark Performance Data
Fourth of a four-part Green Building Report on long-term energy planning.
In December 2016, the GBCI launched Arc, a new platform that allows any building, community, or city to immediately share performance data and benchmark itself against a global dataset of peers. Projects enter readily available data into the platform and receive a performance score, which translates 12 months of measured data across five categories — energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience — into a score of 1 to 100.
Projects can use this score to understand how they compare to other projects or to pursue LEED certification. Any building or tenant space — from data centers and factories to hotels and schools — can measure and track incremental progress toward more efficient, healthier and comfortable spaces through a data-centric approach. Any size community — from business improvement districts and neighborhoods, to cities and even regions — can measure and track its progress in a similar fashion.
Technology has enabled companies of all sizes, all over the world, to operate and report in a highly integrated way, spurring greater demand from consumers and the public for companies to disclose their performance information on things like water and energy consumption. LEED v4 represented a shift along this vein of heightened transparency and integrated thinking, asking project teams to go deeper into ensuring best practices throughout the lifecycle of their building and within their supply chain. Companies can use Arc, with its focus on outcomes and its data-visualization capabilities, as a powerful reporting tool to demonstrate delivery on sustainability commitments across a portfolio of assets.
LEED certification has always recognized market leadership and will continue to do so. To deliver transformational change, however, it’s important to connect more people and projects to the LEED program. Performance scoring in Arc accomplishes this goal. Traditionally, only those who intended to certify their buildings were motivated to seek out LEED strategies, register their project with GBCI, look through a reference guide, or connect to the community of rating system users. When USGBC launched the performance score in 2013, our goal was to simplify the process of maintaining a project’s LEED certification. Today, we are applying the scoring to support more teams in more ways.
Strategies in LEED and other rating systems that improve efficiency, reduce operating costs, and promote healthy and comfortable spaces can benefit everyone. Now building owners, operators and community stakeholders don’t have to know exactly what they want to achieve upfront. By looking at current performance, teams can identify local needs and resources, pinpoint which strategies will be the most important and applicable to their space type or community, and then determine the most appropriate time to implement. The intent is simple: start where you are, progress as you can, with LEED guiding the way.
Arc + Existing Buildings
Arc also enables the delivery of USGBC’s newest offering: the performance pathway to LEED v4 O+M certification, with optional precertification. This pilot pathway uses the performance score in Arc as an alternative way to demonstrate compliance with requirements in the LEED v4 O+M rating system. The performance score determines a building’s LEED certification level using the familiar LEED point breakdown: 40-49 = Certified, 50-59 = Silver, 60-79 = Gold, and 80-100 = Platinum. Teams have the option to achieve certain credits in LEED v4 O+M to earn points that increase their performance score, which may boost their certification level.
Arc also offers an opportunity for any project that has received recognition under another green building framework to compare itself to LEED projects. Projects that have been certified under systems like GREEN STAR, BREEAM, DGNB, 3 star, Green Mark, GRIHA, IGBC, ENERGY STAR and others can register and share data to earn a performance score. These projects then have a streamlined pathway to certify to LEED v4 O+M, if they so choose.
The rigor of LEED certification is built in to the performance pathway; a streamlined review process focused on validating score data maintains the high performance standards that every LEED-certified building must meet. This approach also frees up projects to innovate and try new strategies that LEED does not prescribe — their performance score will reflect the outcomes of these innovations.
Building owners and managers who commit to incremental, ongoing improvements in operations will shape a more livable, resource efficient, and fiscally responsible built environment for generations. Arc and the LEED for Existing Buildings performance pathway offer a way to make their jobs easier and more impactful.