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No longer resting on LEED laurels, companies must submit updates

Posted : July 6, 2009 by , Category: Uncategorized

Have you heard the latest? Just issued at the end of last month, the USGBC announced that as part of LEED v3, they will be requiring all projects pursuing LEED certification to comply with a new performance requirement.

They provide three options for fulfillment:

– Recertify the building on a two-year cycle with their existing buildings program – LEED-EBOM

– Provide the building’s energy and water usage data annually

– Building owner allows USGBC to access data directly from the utilities provider

So, what do you think?  Me, I think this is huge. But in a positive way or a worrying way?

Initially LEED v3 seemed like it would completely revamp the building certification program and really get to the bottom of critical items — add new credits, drastically edit existing ones, add new categories.

In the end, LEED v3 was mainly a realignment of the existing LEED rating systems to set up for the next big move. And that’s what it looked like, until this latest requirement associated with LEED 2009 was issued.

On paper, I couldn’t agree more, there is a big disconnect between building design/construction and building operations. Very few architectural design firms perform a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) or something similar to inform and improve future design. Same goes for engineers, contractors and others in the field.

As someone in the field of analyzing the real or virtual performance of a building, I fully recognize the importance of this dataset. The question is how will this information be shared so that the general public can benefit? Will the USGBC be making public this new database similar to what the Department of Energy does with the CBECs database of commercial energy uses and costs?

The reaction I’ll be curious to see is from the owners. Is this request just too much?  Will it discourage some owners from pursuing LEED? Especially those that are new to the arena and still unsure. I’m not sure, based on my experience and having worked with the full spectrum of owners: developers complying with regulations (i.e. Boston’s Article 37) to non-profits pursuing sustainability regardless (i.e.  The Audubon Society).

In the end, this is the right move forward. USGBC is about market transformation. This will start changing the norm. However, critical at this juncture is the execution, dissemination and utilization of this new measure and the information collected. If not handled properly, it may be perceived by the general public as a way for the USGBC to make more money through LEED-EBOM.

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