Facility Managers Can Use LEED-EBOM Categories as Conceptual Tools
These categories are more useful as conceptual tools for thinking about credits than as hard-and-fast rules or models. Some credits that seem like natural fits for the categories above — documenting that every building on a campus has 10-foot entryway mats doesn't seem decidedly more difficult or technically unsound than documenting that every building has lighting controls in perimeter spaces, for example — are not included in the first round of guidance. And a handful of credits combine the models described above; projects pursuing Water Efficiency Credit 3 — Irrigation Water Use can integrate elements of geography and systems to illustrate efficient irrigation water strategies over an entire campus.
LEED-EBOM projects are never easy; even the basic act of taking an existing building from conventional practices to sustainable operations is an enormous challenge, and documenting that achievement is all the more difficult. But buildings on educational campuses face a unique set of challenges and opportunities in making sustainability and LEED part of their operating lives.
The sheer size and complexity of the campus environment often conflicts with LEED's focus on building-specific performance, and enrolling diverse occupants, service providers, and decision-makers in campuswide initiatives is notoriously difficult. At the same time, the opportunities for economies of scale are substantial, and USGBC's continuing open-mindedness in this arena suggests a growing understanding that the principle of building-specificity can be successfully balanced against campuswide realities in a way that maintains the integrity of the LEED program and enables continuing sustainability benefits.
And as more and more campuses turn to LEED-EBOM to guide and validate their sustainability decisions, the ability of both building owners and facility managers to thoughtfully adjust that balance will determine LEED's place on campuses in the days ahead.
The AGMBC and "master site" approach represent a first step toward altering that balance. Projects will still struggle with the limitations of the master site concept; in many instances, the master site will be of limited utility and conventional approaches may have to suffice. But as a conceptual bridge from total building-specific thinking to consideration of the campus as an interconnected "facility" this step is of critical importance.
The AGMBC and master site approach may not have yet solved Andy Coghlan's problem for him, but it's a start. The UC campuses are moving forward with a combination of approaches — using the "master site" to document a variety of geographic and policy credits, creating policy and program base templates for others, and focusing on building-specific data where necessary — but the tool has provided some efficiency and certainty relative to a subset of credits that will be earned for every building on campus through a single review process. And for any LEED project, not to mention the dozens of projects Coghlan hopes will come from the UC System in the years ahead, efficiency and certainty are things of enormous benefit.
Dan Ackerstein, LEED AP — O&M, is principal of Ackerstein Consulting, LLC, a firm he founded in 2008. Ackerstein has been involved with LEED for Existing Buildings since the program's origination. He served as lead developer of the online LEED-EBOM submittal templates and is the co-author of the LEED-EBOM Reference Guide. Ackerstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on campus guidance from the U.S. Green Building Council, including a free download of the Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects, visit www.usgbc.org/campusguidance,