Many buildings that were originally certified under LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB v2.0) are currently due for recertification, which is now required by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) every five years.

What should you do if you’re the owner of a building certified under v2.0 and how can you upgrade to comply?

This post will provide a high-level overview of how companies can prepare their buildings to upgrade from v2.0 to v2009. You can read a more detailed analysis with specific requirements for owners in our white paper Getting Ready for LEED Recertification: What You Need to Know about Converting from v2.0 to v2009. You will learn how credits established under v2.0 translate to v2009 credits and the extent of changes that are required to convert.

Upgrading Operations

We previously posted about the benefits of recertification, including:

  • An opportunity to tune up existing sustainability initiatives that produce lower utility bills and more satisfied occupants
  • A process to validate that a building is operating as optimally as it did the day the LEED certification was achieved

Building owners and operators are required to upgrade operations in order to apply for recertification. However, v2.0 never included requirements for recertification, which can leave owners and property manager with lots of questions concerning how credits achieved in LEED-EBv2.0 align with credits required for LEED-EB v2009.

This post and our white paper are intended to answer many of those questions.

Significant Changes

Many changes have taken place from v2.0 to v2009, including the number of points possible, and the point distribution through individual credit and credit categories. The table below illustrates the difference between the v2.0 point scale and the v2009 point scale, along with the number of points required to achieve certain levels of LEED Certification.

Although it may look like more points are required to achieve certification, it is actually all relative. In v2.0, a project would need to achieve about 36% of all points to be awarded LEED Certified. If you were to run the math, you would notice the same pattern holds true for Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

The bigger change is which credit category the points actually fall within. In v2009 there is more emphasis on Sustainable Sites and Water Efficiency, and less on Materials and Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality.  Energy and Atmosphere continues to be where the most points are possible.

Next, we’ll examine the most significant changes and additions in v2009 credit by credit.

Alternative Transportation – SSc3 to SSc4 Conversion

High-Level: One of the biggest changes from LEED-EB v2.0 to LEED-EB v2009 is alternative transportation. Transitioned from documenting facilities that encourage people to take alternative transportation (bike racks, being close to trains) to documenting the actual number of building occupants that commute by alternative modes.

Value: Provides insight into commuting patterns of building occupant and helps inform decisions about creating or expanding transit or carpooling programs.

WEp1 Upgrade – Plumbing Fixture/Fitting Efficiency

High-Level: More efficient baseline for faucets; otherwise the same requirements with more points.

Value: Encourages use of high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, which can help reduce water use at the building.

Energy Efficiency – EAp2/c1 Upgrade

High-Level: Same intent as before, but more points for ENERGY STAR scores that are closer to the lower end of prerequisite compliance. Minimum Energy Star score requirements for EAp2 have changed from a score of 60 to show compliance in v2.0 to a score of 69 to show compliance in v2009.

Value: Calculates the energy efficiency of a building based on all utility bills over 12 months, encourages buildings to find energy conservation improvements and benefit from lower utility bills.

Solid Waste Management – MRp1.2 to MRp2 Conversion

High-Level: Providing a recycling area used to be sufficient under v2.0. Under v2009, a comprehensive policy must be developed for items within management’s control, although no actual performance is required.

Value: Establishes guidelines for implementing a recycling program for commingled items, electronic equipment, furniture, and construction waste as applicable. Recycling of waste is a key opportunity to save money in light of rising tipping fees for trash.

If the goals established for recycling in the prerequisite policy are met, additional points can be earned throughout the Materials & Resources credits.

Indoor Air Quality Ventilation – EQp1 to IEQp1 Conversion

High-Level: Updated requirements to more recent ASHRAE standards.

Value: Ensures that sufficient air is being provided to building occupants, which can greatly benefit human health, employee satisfaction, and productivity.

Project Information Forms – PIF 1-5

High-Level: New project information forms document building square footage, occupants, and other basic data to provide an understanding of the project to the LEED reviewer.

Value: Provides a record of building data in one location that can be easily referenced for documenting other credits or prerequisites.

Existing Building Commissioning – EAc2.1-2.3

High-Level: Thoroughly investigate the building’s operations beyond ASHRAE Level I requirements and implement low and no-cost improvements. For two more points, complete building commissioning and establish a plan for ongoing commissioning moving forward.

Value: Provides greater insight into how well building systems and operations are performing and promptly improves efficiency by requiring implementation of low and no-cost improvements. Ensures that buildings continue to operate as designed or better and that owners recoup benefits from high-energy efficiency.

Sustainable Purchasing Policy – MRp1

High-Level: Develop a comprehensive policy for purchasing sustainable products for items within management’s control.

Value: Establishes guidelines for implementing a sustainable purchasing program for office supplies, electronic equipment, and furniture, which is an opportunity to reduce costs through contract negotiation while also reducing the building’s environmental footprint.

Call to Action

It’s clear that converting from LEED-EB v2.0 to v2009 is not without its hurdles, but we trust that this post provides insights into the value conversion will provide for your occupants, your utility bills and your operating costs. You can find more detailed information about recertification in our white paper Getting Ready for LEED-EB Recertification.

In future posts, we’ll discuss action plans to help you accomplish these credit conversions, and address some of the trickier conversions. Are you planning for recertification and stuck on a credit? Or, are you just interested in learning more about one of these credits? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be sure to respond, or write to info@paladinoandco.com.

Candice Bullard is Associate Green Building Consultant, FMP, LEED® AP O+M with Paladino and Company in Seattle; Jeff Williford is Green Building Consultant, LEED® AP EB O+M with Paladino DC, the East Coast office of Paladino and Company. They will be speaking at the 2013 IFMA Facility Fusion Conference & Expo on Successfully Operating LEED Buildings: Setting Your Building Apart in the New Normal.

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