Obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for an existing building encourages you to upgrade operations and management to create a greener, more efficient setting. Whether you partner with a Houston LEED construction company or put together a team of experts from many different sources, the goal of certification is to move toward a more environmentally friendly way of maintaining a building and its related operations.
Updating for Efficiency
LEED certification was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2002 and revised in 2004. Most of the guidelines applied to new construction. In 2008, LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations Management was launched. This new set of guidelines is what you should focus on if you want certification for existing commercial or institutional structures.
LEED offers four certification levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum. Each is associated with a number of points assigned based on the environmental priority of different “sustainability categories” and environmentally friendly operations. These include:
- Energy and atmosphere
- Water efficiency
- Indoor environmental quality
- Exterior building maintenance
- Recycling programs
How well you handle onsite pest control and whether or not your company employs green cleaning methods are other factors that LEED takes into consideration. Improvements are meant to reduce environmental impact and increase energy performance. The USGBC provides many resources, including an online information database, to help you get started.
Challenges When Upgrading Existing Buildings
Before beginning the LEED certification process for an existing building, assess your building and operations to see where you meet requirements and where improvements are needed. Use this information to create a budget for your project. Budget for time as well as money and consider how each element is going to pay off in future energy savings.
Put together a team that can help you achieve your certification goals including a green cleaning service, an environmentally friendly power source and a sustainable waste disposal company. Make sure that your current staff is on board with the project and that everyone is focused on a common goal. It is important that everyone understands how long the process is going to take and how much time each department must devote during that period.
Look for a contractor or project planner who understands the sometimes confusing standards required for certification. Keep detailed documents of every improvement that you make and retain copies for yourself. This paper trail comes in handy not only when filing for LEED but also in the future when it comes time to recertify.
Working with a Houston design build company can help you face these challenges and implement an operations plan that prepares your building to meet LEED certification requirements.
Overcoming challenges pays off over time thanks to the efficiency that LEED certification promotes. By becoming LEED certified, you enjoy:
- Decreased waste for all building operations
- Significant savings in energy costs
- Improved performance with continued goals for improvement
- One simple, standardized plan for handling operations
- A plan that can be implemented across multiple locations
Cleaner, greener buildings also promote employee morale and improve the public image of your company. Customers and clients respect LEED certification and all that it represents. The higher the designation, the more impressive your achievement. While this should not be the number one reason you seek to become LEED certified, it is something to consider when it comes to promoting your brand.
The LEED certification process is a big undertaking whether you are starting with a new Houston industrial construction project or upgrading a building that’s needed improvements for years. It requires a cohesive team willing to put in the time and dedication necessary to address and implement upgrades, but the payoffs are well worth the effort for any modern business.