LEED for Existing Buildings @ Your Residential Building: Guest Blog
Home. Work. Shopping. Recreation. Entertainment. Whatever the purpose, buildings play a significant role in our day-to-day lives. These buildings also make up a large portion of our built environment. And while new construction methods are moving toward greener and more sustainable buildings, our cities and towns are made up of primarily existing buildings.
LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EBOM), now in its fourth iteration, is the U.S. Green Building Council's rating system to expand upon the efforts of its more well-known building design and construction certification programs. While many of the USGBC's other certifications focus on green design, LEED-EBOM extends these efforts to award certification for efficiencies and sustainable practices in how the building actually operates on a day-to-day basis during occupancy. In doing so, the intent is to help building owners and managers "maximize the operational efficiency of the building while minimizing its environmental impact."
Originally conceived as a certification method for commercial buildings only, the program has been evolving to include more building types - including residential buildings. There are a number of residential buildings that have been certified under the LEED-EBOM system. Of the 844 registered LEED-EBOM projects (any of the four versions) on the USGBC Certified Project Directory, it turns out that six of them are residential. A majority of these are residential dorms on college campuses, such as Thayer Hall at Harvard University and the EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College. It's clear that even though it is possible to earn LEED-EBOM certification on a residential building, it has yet to catch on as a common trend.
Home Green Home?
Should I get my home or residential building certified?
The main thing to remember when considering LEED-EBOM for your existing residential building is the purpose of this certification program. LEED-EBOM certifies that the building is operating at a sustainable level, as determined by meeting the credits in the USGBC's rating system. This is an important distinction from the other certification programs which certifiy that the building was designed and constructed to meet green criteria. The other LEED systems look at building design, plans and system specifications to determine whether the building is built to a certain standard whereas LEED-EBOM looks at the actual performance of the building.
There may be any number of reasons why you may consider certifying your residential building under LEED-EBOM. Will it help with marketing? Is there a growing push by your municipality or state? Have your current residents been asking for greener living features?
Which LEED Certification Works For My Building?
If you are planning a major renovation or gut rehabilitation of your residential building, you actually have the opportunity to consider any number of certifications:
- LEED for New Construction
- LEED for Homes
- LEED for Homes Mid-Rise (buildings of 4 to 6 stories)
- LEED for Existing Buildings (buildings of 4 or more stories)
If however you are planning on only a moderate renovation or rehab (or something even less substantial), you can still consider the LEED-EBOM certification.
To Certify or Not to Certify?
The process for a residential building to become LEED-EBOM certified can be a bit tricky and problematic. Currently, much of the prerequisite and credit language is written in a manner directed toward commercial and institutional buildings. While there have been residential buildings that have been certified and there are a number of Credit Interpretation Requests (CIRs) filed to clarify the application of LEED-EBOM to residential buildings, you may still find it difficult to meet the credit requirements. A trained and seasoned LEED consultant can certainly help you through the process, and it's important to conduct a pre-evaluation to determine if your building has the potential to meet the requirements.