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Building Operating Management

Occupant Buy-in Can Make or Break LEED-EBOM Projects





Understand you'll need to get tenants or occupants involved in your LEED initiative. This may require you to step a bit out of your comfort zone and do public relations and even a bit of schmoozing. Indeed, an EBOM initiative may be only as successful as your ability to persuade tenants or occupants to change their ways. Thankfully, says Smith, that's usually not difficult if you can get them to see the big picture and understand your goals. "Success on an EBOM initiative relies on cooperation, input and behavioral changes of others who are not under your authority," he says.

Smith cites an example: When his team did a waste stream audit as part of the EBOM initiative, they discovered that occupants weren't recycling nearly as much as they could. Some simple education for the occupants resulted in a higher recycling rate and more points toward certification.

In multitenant facilities, there may be a few additional challenges. Getting disparate departments within the same organizations on the same page is one thing, but getting disparate organizations in line is quite another. Take the Marquette Plaza, at which 22 tenants reside. Rerat says that if he and his team hadn't had a good existing relationship with all those tenants, EBOM would've been impossible. Base Management property administrator Shawna Hansen served as the leader of the EBOM initiative, and she says that there was some initial resistance to EBOM. But by staying in constant communication, by reminding the tenants that they're all in this together, and by showing them that LEED helps the building stay competitive in the real estate industry, the resistance slowly melted away.

6. A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

"You have to strategically and methodically plan for the long-term," says Santamaria, in regards to how to create plans and policies that don't just go into a cabinet and stay there. "A building is like a living, breathing entity."

So it's important to recognize that an EBOM initiative doesn't just last for the six-month to a year period of data gathering and paperwork submission. An EBOM initiative lasts forever.

"Make sure people understand that building optimization is a continuous process," says Smith. Carney seconds that: "Make sure you understand that you're not just implementing an initiative for a few months. This is from now on."

There are many differences between NC and EBOM, but possibly the most important one is that, whereas NC is a one-time certification, the work on EBOM is never finished. EBOM requires recertification at minimum every five years (most experts suggest no more than three), which means that policies and procedures must be constantly examined and updated, data continuously analyzed and improved upon, and occupants continuously engaged.

That's not always easy, says Santamaria, because different folks will always have different levels of enthusiasm. So you really have to work to keep people excited. In that respect, recertification is actually a huge benefit, as it gives the team another concrete goal to work towards.

Santamaria says he and his team will begin working on formal recertification at The Aventine next year. But in the meantime, he's already been able to lower his energy use intensity from 27 kBtu/sqft/yr to 23 kBtu/sqft/yr since the initial certification by concentrating on peak demand and load shedding strategies.

"Don't look at the roadblocks that prevent you from seeing your long-term vision," he says.

"Instead, be creative and get excited. There are always ways to improve."


posted on 4/20/2012

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