ROCKVILLE, Md. - The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) new LEED 2009 Existing Building: Operations and Maintenance rating system is now open for public comment through June 22, 2008 (www.usgbc.org). The comment period provides an excellent opportunity for mechanical service contractors to play an active role in the LEED review process and position themselves as experts in sustainable technologies.
It is likely that the new rating system will afford greater benefits to mechanical service contractors by providing more opportunities for direct involvement in the LEED process through an expanded focus on energy efficiency and IAQ requirements. Comments are welcome for changes to prerequisites and credit requirements as well as changes to the rating system scorecards. According to the USGBC, the new rating system features streamlined reporting, fewer prerequisites, greater focus on operations and maintenance, ease of scale for use in greening large portfolios of existing buildings, and more rewards for measured environmental performance.
Other improvements that the USGBC maintains the new system offers include:
• Energy efficiency: There are now 50 percent more points for energy efficiency in EA Credit 1 and new credits for best practices including auditing, existing building commissioning and ongoing commissioning.
• Water efficiency: Contains double the number of points from previous rating system and includes new credits for water metering and cooling tower efficiency.
• Green cleaning: This area has been consolidated into one credit category and emphasis has been added for achieving a comprehensive green cleaning program.
• Greater emphasis on operations, maintenance, and upgrades: New construction credits and prerequisites were removed making room for greater emphasis on operational best practices.
• Strong commitment to performance: Prescriptive credits, including those for bike racks and carpool signs, have been converted into a performance-based system that rewards measured results.
• Clearer credit distinctions: All the credits in the materials section have been sorted into simple, logical groups.
• Fewer prerequisites: These have been reduced from 13 to nine without sacrificing any essential best practices or compliance criteria.
Beginning July 1, 2008, all projects registering for LEED for Existing Buildings must do so under the new LEED EB: Operations & Maintenance version. Projects that register for LEED for Existing Buildings version 2.0 before July 1 will be given the opportunity to continue their certification under version 2.0 or upgrade to LEED EB: O&M. A new LEED EB: O & M exam for accredited professionals (LEED AP) is not scheduled for implementation until mid-2009.
All firms involved in the mechanical service industry are encouraged to review the new rating system and familiarize themselves with the new submittal templates. Now is the perfect time to get a heads up on the process so the required expertise and services customers need to obtain or maintain LEED certification, or simply to save on energy costs, can be offered. Plus it is a way to get involved in an evolving process that can, and will, have an impact on a contractor’s bottom line.