What Makes LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance So Great?
October 2, 2012
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I have been working on an existing building that is targeting LEED Platinum for the past few months. I believe that the greenest building is one that is already built. This rating system allows existing buildings to certify as green by making their operations as sustainable as possible. This is my first LEED EBOM project, and I’ve noticed 3 great improvements between this rating system and the one for new construction.
The first big improvement I see is that most of the credits are based on actual performance rather than modeled or estimated performance. This rating system has an advantage because the building has already been built, but that doesn’t make it less great. Some of the areas you see this with are the energy consumption, water consumption, light pollution, and alternative transportation credits.
The second big improvement is that tenants are engaged in the process. In a new construction job most LEED work is done before the tenants move in, but in LEED EBOM your success depends on them. Tenant purchases, commuting behavior, energy and water use, recycling and waste habits, and overall comfort all have an effect on how many credits the building earns. By involving the tenants you also get the opportunity to educate them on the affects their decisions can have on the buildings sustainability. LEED EBOM has the profound ability to affect behavior!
The third big improvement is that certification is not for the life of the building, as it is with a LEED for New Construction building. LEED for Existing Buildings certification is only good for up to 5 years. At this point the building needs to re-certify in order to keep their plaque on the wall. This means they have to keep up the good work! The building is also able to try for additional credits every time it recertifies, and there is the opportunity to recertify at a higher level than before. This encourages continuous improvement.
I have only been working on the job with LEED EBOM for the past couple months, but I’m sure I will find more things I like about the rating system as I go on. I’m looking forward to more exciting and engaging LEED EBOM projects.