USGBC invites participation in new LEED program

February 01, 2002 |

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has launched the pilot phase of its newest green building rating system: LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB). The official invitation to participate in the pilot program of the newly developed LEED-EB was sent to more than 2,000 U.S. Green Building Council members and affiliated organizations. The USGBC is seeking to identify 50 projects that will shape LEED-EB by putting the newest green building rating system to the test.

LEED-EB builds on the success of LEED 2.0, which was launched in 2000 to certify the overall environmental performance of new commercial buildings. 'The challenge has been to adapt LEED 2.0 for the nearly 250,000 major building-improvement projects that are undertaken every year on existing buildings,' states Christine Ervin, president and CEO of the USGBC. 'Given the magnitude of potential economic and environmental benefits, we're eager to get LEED-EB product tested and into the marketplace.'

Using the blueprint established in LEED 2.0, LEED-EB evaluates 'greenness' in five categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Where the LEED-EB rating system differs from LEED 2.0 is in its provisions for green standards as they relate to operating, maintaining or converting existing buildings into high performance, sustainable facilities.

While LEED 2.0 applies to new construction or to major renovations that gut a building back to its shell, the LEED-EB rating system applies to existing building operations and system improvements. Michael Arny, co-chair of the LEED for Existing Buildings Committee for the USGBC, adds, 'It was important that the USGBC's first rating system should address new building design and construction, because you only get one chance to build a new building right. But with more than 4.5 million buildings in the United States, the operation of existing buildings has a much larger impact on the environment. LEED-EB provides existing building owners and operators with a tool kit for systematically reducing the environmental impacts of their buildings and for maintaining these reductions day after day, year after year.'

LEED-EB addresses cleaning and maintenance practices, indoor air quality, energy and water performance, and ongoing monitoring, measurement and management of all building systems. It also offers standards for enhancing programs and supporting facilities for occupant recycling.

As with LEED 2.0, LEED-EB offers four levels of recognition. Buildings that achieve 40 percent of the 71 points available are awarded a LEED Certified plaque. LEED Certified Silver requires 50 percent; Certified Gold requires 60 percent; and Certified Platinum requires 80 percent. Five bonus points recognizing design and process innovation are also available to projects attempting certification.

Pilot program

'Before the final version of LEED-EB can be released to the marketplace, the USGBC must evaluate the criteria it has established against actual results of the pilot,' explains Paul von Paumgartten, co-chair of the LEED for Existing Buildings Committee. 'That's why the pilot program is so crucial to the success of LEED-EB. The projects selected for this pilot program will provide a representative sample of the broad range of facilities that will seek LEED certification when LEED-EB is officially launched. For this important phase of the development process, building size, use, location, as well as occupancy type and industry sector will all be reviewed to assemble the final group of pilot projects.'

At the completion of the pilot program, the data collected from the projects will help the USGBC fill unforeseen gaps and make any necessary adjustments to the requirements, strategies and suggested technologies. This, in turn, may greatly affect the final rating criteria presented to the USGBC membership for approval in an official balloting process.

After gaining approval by the USGBC membership, LEED-EB will provide guidelines as well as recognition for greening building operations. This will give all existing building owners, facility operators, designers and contractors involved in operation, maintenance, upgrades and operational improvements the opportunity to participate in the LEED program.

The pilot documents, including the LEED-EB rating system, are available on the USGBC Web site at:

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