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Revised LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Explained

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is used by everyone—from facility managers to operations contractors. An often-overlooked detail in the green building discussion is the enormous size of the existing building market—some 80 times larger than the new construction market. Most of the existing buildings that dot our land and cityscapes are operating with little efficiency in terms of energy and water, and are negatively impacting CO2 emissions. Making our existing buildings smarter and more efficient will have a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance is a tool for greening existing buildings, and identifies and rewards best practices and measures environmental achievement. It also provides an outline for how buildings can use less energy, water and natural resources; improve the indoor environment; and uncover operating inefficiencies.

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance is the result of rigorous revisions to the LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System (LEED-EB), and will supply owners and operators of existing buildings with a tool kit to implement sustainable operations and maintenance practices, as well as reduce the environmental impact of a building over its functional lifecycle.

Rating System Defined

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary building certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The rating system defines high-performance green buildings, which are more environmentally responsible, healthier, and more profitable structures and evaluates a building in five areas: Sustainable Sites; Water Efficiency; Energy & Atmosphere; Materials & Resources; and Indoor Environmental Quality. Within these credit areas, points are available and the number of points a project earns determines the level of certification the building will be awarded. The four progressive levels of certification are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

The primary goal for revising LEED-EB was to increase its market potential, which aligns with USGBC’s overall mission of fostering buildings that are more environmentally friendly, healthier, productive places to live and work. The revisions to the rating system will address customer concerns about project documentation, the prescriptive nature of the credits and the overlap with the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) Rating System.

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance provides a set of performance standards for certifying the operations and maintenance of existing commercial, institutional buildings and high-rise residential buildings. The performance standards address issues such as site maintenance, water conservation, indoor air quality, energy saving programs, recycling facilities and programs, and green cleaning.

LEED certification provides third-party verification of a building’s performance. Going through the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance certification process helps the facility managers evaluate current practices, identify inefficiencies, and provides a roadmap to operational improvement. The rating system offers improved operational efficiencies, verifiable sustainability achievements within operations and maintenance, and highlights sustainable programs and policies.

To learn more about USGBC and LEED, go to www.usgbc.org.

Ashley Katz is the communications coordinator for the U.S. Green Building Council. Contact her at akatz@usgbc.org. This article first appeared in Sustainable Facility, October 2007.

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