LEED Certification for Existing Buildings

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance helps building owners and operators manage their buildings as efficiently as possible, while minimizing environmental impact.

The LEED EBOM rating system addresses the building project’s “operations, processes, system upgrades, minor space use-changes, and minor facility alterations or additions”.

This rating system addresses building operations and maintenance issues such as cleaning, recycling, exterior maintenance and building systems. It applies to existing commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings of any size, public or private. Plus, buildings that have already achieved LEED certification can re-apply for EB:O+M certification.

It is important to note that EB:O+M is the only rating system that requires re-certification every 5 years.

Notable LEED-certified EB:O+M projects include the Empire State Building and Taipei 101 (the second largest building in the world).

How Does It Work?

Currently, there are two versions of the Existing Buildings rating system: LEED 2009 and LEED v4.  LEED 2009 is the older version of the rating system, released in 2009.  LEED v4, released in November 2013, is an updated version of the rating system that includes new and adjusted credits and a greater emphasis on building performance (rather than just design).  In mid-2015, LEED v4 will replace LEED 2009 as the only rating system; until then, project teams can choose either one.

LEED awards points to homes for achieving certain requirements in a number of sustainability categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Operations and Regional Priority.  LEED v4 also includes Location & Transportation as a credit category.

Prerequisite credits are worth zero points and are mandatory for certification.

The other credits in the rating system are optional and worth points. These points add up to a score, which determines the home’s certification level.  There are a total of 100 base points, 6 Innovation in Operations points, and 4 Regional Priority points available. A minimum of 40 points are required for certification. The levels of certification include:

Certified: 40-49 points
Silver: 50-59 points
Gold: 60-79 points
Platinum: 80+ points

So, while credits are optional, project teams must earn a certain number of them for the project to earn certification.

You can find the LEED EBOM scorecard here. The introduction to the LEED EBOM Reference Guide is here.

It is important to note that the LEED EB:O+M rating system also has a number of Minimum Project Requirements (MPR) that must be met for the building to be eligible for certification. If it does not meet an MPR, the project cannot be certified.

Notable Elements of EBOM

The Existing Buildings rating system has some components that are quite different from the other rating systems because they pertain to building operations rather than construction. Some of these examples include:

Pest Control

There are two credits that address pest management in LEED 2009: Sustainable Sites Credit 3: Integrated Pest Management, Erosion Control and Landscape Management Plan and Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 3.6: Green Cleaning – Indoor Integrated Pest Management. Each credit is worth one point.

The Sustainable Sites Credit 3 (SS c3) deals with outside pest management. However, LEED does recommend streamlining your plan for SS c3 with the IEQ Credit 3.6 Indoor Integrated Pest Management.

Both credits address pest management by utilizing chemicals as a last resort. The practice of an integrated pest management plan focuses on prevention rather than treatment. Therefore, a building owner or operator should focus on how to prevent pests by site inspections and maintenance, monitoring of pest populations, evaluations and sanitation practices.

The credits also require that in the event hazardous pesticides are applied, building occupants must be notified 72 hours prior to routine application and 24 hours after an emergency application. Hazardous pesticides are defined by LEED as those that fall outside of the San Francisco Pesticide Hazard Screening List.

In LEED v4, there are also credits that address pest management.  For example, Integrated Pest Management, worth 2 points, requires and Integrated Pest Management plan that includes nonchemical pest prevention measures, identification of a pest control team and pest monitoring measures.

Green Cleaning

In LEED 2009, Indoor Environmental Quality Prerequisite 3 requires a green cleaning policy. The USGBC’s intent for this requirement is “To reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical, biological and particulate contaminants, which adversely affect air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems and the environment.”

IEQ Credits 3.1-3.6 also address green cleaning, including sustainable purchasing of cleaning supplies and equipment, pest management, custodial effectiveness.

In LEED v4, green cleaning credits include Custodial Effectiveness Management, Products and Materials, and Equipment.  It also has a prerequisite for Green Cleaning Policy, either for an in-house cleaning crew or a contracted cleaning service.  It requires the project team to create a policy that addresses water, energy and chemical use for cleaning, strategies for improving hand cleaning, and safe handling of cleaning chemicals, among other sustainable cleaning strategies.

Sustainable Purchasing

In LEED 2009, Materials and Resources Prerequisite 1 and Credits 1-5 address sustainable purchasing of a variety of products. The goal of these credits is “to reduce the environmental and air quality impacts of the materials acquired for use in the operations and maintenance of buildings”, according to the rating system.

These include policies for ongoing consumables, electric-powered equipment, furniture, facility alterations, lamps with reduced mercury, and food. Projects can earn points for purchasing a percentage of sustainable or environmentally-friendly products over the course of building operation.

LEED v4 also has a mandatory Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy, as well as credits for Ongoing Purchasing, Lamps Purchasing, and Facility Maintenance and Renovation Purchasing.

Fastest Growing Rating System

In December 2011, USGBC announced that the amount of square footage certified under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance exceeded the amount certified under the LEED for New Construction rating system by 15 million square feet. New Construction had formerly been the most popular LEED rating system, but EBOM started gaining popularity in 2008, most likely because of the economic crisis, which stimulated interest in money-saving energy efficiency improvements.

Plus, the existing building stock in the United States is extremely large, and about 75% (or 3.75 million buildings) were built before 1990. This means that a huge portion of the existing 5,000,000+ commercial buildings in the U.S. are ripe for energy efficiency improvements. Over 100,000 new commercial buildings are built in America each year, meaning that each year there are more existing buildings that will eventually need improvements.

The President, CEO and Founding Chair of the USGBC, Rick Fedrizzi, said: "The market is becoming increasingly aware of how building owners can get better performance through green operations and maintenance, and tools such as LEED for Existing Buildings: O&M are essential to cost-effectively driving improvements in our economy and environment."

LEED AP Operations + Management

Professionals who have demonstrated knowledge of the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance rating system have the LEED AP Operations + Maintenance (O+M) credential. The credential signifies that the professional has extensive expertise in increasing a building's operational efficiency and performance, reducing environmental impact, and implementing sustainable practices, in existing buildings via improved operations and maintenance.

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