LEED Certification Aims To Be Constantly Evolving
U.S. Green Building Council Perspective
New LEED Recertification Guidelines Key to Ongoing Building Performance
by jacob kriss, media associate, U.S. Green Building Council
A central tenet of the U.S. Green Building Council's efforts to promote sustainability in building design, construction, operations and maintenance is the belief that LEED certification must not be a static endeavor. Instead, it is a constantly evolving mechanism that represents a commitment on the part of projects that bear a LEED plaque to strive continually for the outcomes that the certification represents.
It's in this spirit that USGBC is releasing its new LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) Recertification Guidance for building projects certified under any version of the LEED for Existing Buildings rating system. The guidance is designed to give building owners and managers the opportunity to regularly verify the operational performance of their facilities.
So why is recertification important?
Over time, buildings can maintain and even improve their performance by adhering to the operational strategies that the planners designed for the building — and regular verification of performance is essential to this process. USGBC is now using new technologies and soliciting more feedback from building designers and users to more fully support these performance verification activities.
The newly released recertification guidance outlines how project teams can recertify under LEED-EBOM, which covers systems, infrastructure, practices and policies to maintain the sustainable operation and reduce the environmental impact of existing buildings that are not undergoing major renovations. The LEED-EBOM system can also be applied to buildings seeking LEED certification for the first time, not just those that previously received a LEED-EB certification.
Currently, existing buildings consume the vast majority of energy in the U.S. and could be made much more efficient with readily available technologies and building management practices, like benchmarking. The existing building market is also 80 times larger than the new construction market.
Accordingly, the LEED-EBOM rating system is now the dominant LEED rating system based on square footage. In every year since 2009, projects certified under LEED-EBOM have surpassed those certified under LEED for New Construction.
Here's a quick refresher on the basics of LEED-EBOM recertification:
- Projects are eligible to be recertified within five years of the previous certification and as frequently as every 12 months.
- The recertification performance period extends from the end of the previous certification's performance period to the date of the recertification application.
- Project teams should track recertification performance data for the entire recertification performance period — any gaps in data collection must be reasonable and justifiable.
- Projects are not exempt from any LEED Minimum Program Requirements, such as compliance with minimum occupancy rates and a commitment to sharing whole-building energy and water usage data.
The new recertification guidelines are available for free, in PDF format, on the USGBC website at http://bit.ly/EBOMRecert.
Green Building Report Briefings
Gateway to Green
The U.S. Green Building Council has launched the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG), a Web-based tool that allows users to view LEED places, projects, and credits — detailing the actions and activities LEED building owners and project teams took over time. The tool provides maps, analytics and insights that reveal trends, patterns, and processes in green building practice, according to the USGBC. Users can search and explore green building activity around the world.
Visit www.gbig.org to explore the tool for free.
An analysis performed by the U.S. Green Building Council shows that LEED certified buildings in the study had an average Energy Star score of 89, meaning they're in the top 11th percentile of U.S. buildings in terms of energy usage. The analysis is based on LEED projects that have submitted data to USGBC both voluntarily and as required by LEED 2009. The 195 buildings analyzed range from 2,000 to 3 million square feet, with the average being 254,000 square feet. The buildings were a mix of office and retail facilities. For the last two years, USGBC has been tracking the performance of LEED buildings that are reporting their energy and water use data. Consistent with these findings, these LEED projects demonstrate Source Energy Use Intensity that is on average 47 percent lower than the national average (as reported through EPA Portfolio Manager).
Greener Health Care
ASHRAE, in conjunction with the American Society of Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), are developing a new standard for green health care facilities.
Proposed Standard 189.3: Standard for the Design, Construction and Operation of Sustainable High-Performance Health Care Facilities, would help facilities in meeting multiple needs by providing the procedures, methods and documentation requirements for the design, construction and operation of high performance sustainable health care buildings. It would apply to patient care areas and related support areas within health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and licensed outpatient facilities.
Standard 189.3P is currently open for public comment until Jan. 27. To review the proposed standard and provide feedback, visit www.ashrae.org/publicreviews.
Cutting Vampire Loads
A new tool from the Consumer Electronics Association can give facility managers insight to how much vampire loads – energy used by devices that are not in use, but still drawing energy. The Consumer Electronics Energy Calculator tells users how much per month and year devices like computers and printers are costing. Although geared toward consumers, the calculator also applies to small businesses, home-based businesses and workers who telecommute, according to the CEA.
Use the calculator for free at: www.greenergadgets.org/Energy-Calc.aspx.