Evolving LEED for Existing Buildings at BOMA’s Every Building Conference & Expo

Lauren Riggs, LEEP® AP
Manager, LEED and Building Performance Partnership
U.S. Green Building Council

This Tuesday, I participated in a panel at BOMA’s Every Building Show in Seattle, WA. The topic: The Evolution of LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance.

Now, you’d think that we would have shared a lovely timeline of how LEED for Existing Buildings has grown from a renovation strategy baby to an operations-focused teenager – we didn’t. Instead the panel focused on our movement towards emphasizing building performance outcomes. Specifically, USGBC has launched Pilot Credit 67 (aka. Energy Jumpstart!), is emphasizing performance through a restructuring of the rating system requirements and will be launching LEED EB: O&M recertification program guidelines in the near future.

Given all that we covered, there were two comments from that audience that have stuck in my mind.

First comment: LEED should award a point to building owners and managers who provide submetering to tenant spaces.

My reaction to this comment was, “But what about tenant data privacy? Isn’t the intent of awarding points for tenant metering to also allow the property manager to manage and trend tenant energy consumption?” But, I was wrong. Rather, tenants would be presented with the opportunity to monitor and control their own energy consumption – something that isn’t as standard practice as some would like.

I fully support incentivizing buildings to have tenant level metering and to provide occupants with the information and power to influence how the energy is used. A colleague and I recently launched a LEED pilot credit that shares that intent. Check it out.

Second comment: Raising the minimum ENERGY STAR score to 75 in LEED v4 EB: O&M may prohibit the next tier of LEED projects from participating in the program.

Why? Because portfolio owners have already queued their best buildings for LEED. Those buildings that could easily achieve the current minimum ENERGY STAR score of 69 are already certified or are on their way; the next tier of buildings will not easily reach a score of 69, never mind a 75.

[Pan to me] “Oh my god, no one has ever said that to me before.” This is a great point that I thank Gary Thomas for making. Even with Energy Jumpstart!, EAp2 may still be a barrier to entry for some existing buildings and this is an issue that USGBC will need to discuss before LEED v4 fifth public comment.

There were other good comments and great conversation that followed the panel session. Overall, the session was like a microcosm of one of our public comment periods, demonstrating just how powerful “audience participation” is in the LEED development process. However, there was a surprising lack of excitement for the sneak peak at the recertification guidance for LEED v3 EB projects… I’d like to put it out there: This is exciting! More information is on the way – sample LEED Online forms, full guideline document, etc.

We hope to be able to provide you with full LEED EB: O&M recertification program details in the very near future. In fact, it is my only desire…(hint hint: I work in LEED).

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