LEED: Managers Need to Educate Executives
If your organization has opted not to pursue green certification for one of its facilities, you're hardly alone.
Many institutional and commercial facilities have not pursued certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system or any other certifying body. The decision not to pursue certification is understandable. The process requires a commitment of resources that some organizations choose to commit elsewhere. In some cases, even though top executives might buy into the overall concept of sustainability, they might not see enough potential bottom-line benefit from making the LEED commitment.
This view is short-sighted, but it offers maintenance and engineering managers an opportunity to help top executives see LEED and LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) as something other than all or nothing. How? Even a cursory review of the guidelines reveals relatively small, low-cost opportunities that can improve facilities' sustainability, whether its instituting an occupant-comfort survey and complaint-response system for indoor air quality, banning smoking within 25 feet of building entries, outdoor-air intakes, and operable windows, or specifying products with more recycled content and lower levels of volatile organic chemicals.
Such steps are only the beginning of a lengthy process if an organization's goal is to earn LEED or LEED-EB: Operations and Maintenance certification for a facility. But if the goal is to minimize the impact of facilities on the environment, managers can point out the value of such steps in moving an organization further along the path to sustainability.
In some cases, managers can benefit from looking at the big picture. In this case, though, success can result from thinking small.
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.