LEED-EBOM: Evaluating How Hard It Will Be to Gain Certification
2. Mind the Gap — Do an Analysis
Next, look at your building inside and out and determine the delta between what you're doing now operations-wise and what EBOM credits require. This is called a gap analysis. And it's when you start to get a sense of which credits are possible and easy, which credits may require cost and work, and which credits are out of reach.
"The key is to repetitively ask yourself if the strategies you're choosing are fundamentally making the building better," says Carney. "Also, have a broad sense of which credits will require capital and which are smaller expenses that can be folded into the operating budget."
The question often arises, what is the difference between doing this gap analysis and "credit hunting"? LEED has taken much criticism over the years for being a "checklist" — that users can target individual credits in a piecemeal fashion, a tactic which doesn't necessarily result in a holistic building-level approach to sustainability. Carney says she believes, especially in the case of EBOM, LEED's checklist structure is a plus.
"LEED's structure brings outcomes," she says. "There's a lot of value in the checklist, and it's important to honor that system." Still, the checklist approach has to be used properly to bring the most benefit. If you just try to figure out the easiest 40 points, for example, you'll miss out on the best opportunities for improvement, she says. By contrast, open-ended goals can be paralyzing because nothing is propelling you forward.
3. Overcome Obstacles — Don't Stop Before You Start
It's not unusual at all to complete a gap analysis and energy audit and realize your building is far from meeting some of the EBOM prerequisites, most commonly the prerequisite of a 69 on the Energy Star rating scale. If that's the case, it can be tempting to throw up your hands and give up before you've really started. Don't, say experts.
"Work on incremental improvement if you can't hit the Energy Star prerequisite," says Sheehy. "Do the retrocommissioning and the energy audit and develop a roadmap for reducing energy."