Hundreds of buildings are fast approaching the five-year milestone that will require their EB ratings to be recertified as LEED compliant. Has your company started the recertification process yet?

Why You Need to Recertify

The goal of recertification is to ensure that a building is operating as optimally as it did the day the plaque was installed, which is vital to retaining many benefits, from lower utility bills to satisfied occupants.

As more buildings are becoming LEED certified, setting yourself apart as a leader in sustainability becomes more difficult. Buildings that recertify and maintain their credentials will become new market leaders and gain a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining high-aspiration customers.

Validation of ongoing sustainable operations is the next step for LEED buildings and will grow in importance as we learned at Greenbuild. Facility managers need to shift their thinking about LEED certification as a once-and-done project. That’s no longer going to be the case. LEED has evolved into the framework for verifying high performance building operations, which, if done well, will lead to a streamlined recertification process.

Green Seal, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), FloorScore, Green Squared, GREENGUARD, and Energy Star to name a few, require ongoing maintenance and verification of the sustainable product certification.

Furthermore, most credentials such as the LEED AP + Specialty, CFM, PE, PMP, CCIM, and RPA require ongoing education. It’s a sign that LEED has evolved to align itself with requirements already established for products and people involved with the built environment.

How to Get Started

Recertification is less onerous than initial certification. Owners can increase or decrease the LEED certification depending on how the building was operated. For example, if buildings have increased their energy efficiency or alternative commuting efforts, they could jump up to the next highest level of certification.

To get started on the recertification process, property managers should take the following steps:

  • Update the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager page for the property to confirm the current ENERGY STAR score
  • Review the recent USGBC guidance on the recertification process
  • Use material and insight from the initial certification to identify goals for the recertification process and pain points that should not be repeated
  • Engage service providers to budget estimates. Assess operational cost savings potential of the certification process.

Towers Case Study

The Tower Companies, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland have been sustainability leaders in the DC metro area since building one of the first green buildings in DC at 1909K Street. They have proven their continued commitment to sustainability by taking two of their properties that were certified under LEED EB v2.0 through recertification under LEED EBOM v2009.

This was a first for the Tower Companies, and has proven to provide the framework and foundational understanding of recertification requirements to help them continue to meet their sustainability goals of recertifying other LEED EB Certified properties as they approach the requirement to recertify every 5 years.

David Borchardt, Chief Sustainability Office of The Tower Companies has stated that “recertification has shown us that the procedures and lease requirements we put in place as part of our initial certification efforts were key to improving our properties performance in nearly every area. Recertification validated the importance to us of following green practices that improved the operational performance of our buildings.”

Continuous Improvement

LEED provides the framework for sustainable building operations and continuous improvement. Now is the time to create procedures for daily activities that may have been overlooked, such as tracking water consumption and energy use, documenting plumbing retrofits, overseeing vendor contracts in regards to LEED requirements for sustainability best practices, tracking light purchases, and documenting changes in building equipment or systems.

Establish and incorporate standards in different building roles. Facility managers should include green requirements in occupant leases. Engineers need systems in place to track energy and water efficiency, plumbing retrofits and HVAC systems. Purchasing agents should insert clauses in vendor contracts to ensure reporting requirements.

Then, when it’s time for LEED recertification five years from the initial certification, you will have all your documentation in place. If you’ve overlooked the recert requirements and are nearing the deadline sooner than expected, get outside help if you can’t complete all the steps yourself. You certainly don’t want to lose your certification.

We wouldn’t go so far as to say recertification will be a piece of cake. But when sustainability is embedded in the DNA of a building, your next recertification will go much more smoothly and quickly.

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.

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