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O+M: Initial certification or recertification?

Published on Written by Posted in LEED

Confused about the difference between initial certification for existing buildings and recertification? Consider these scenarios:

A. Acme Inc. has been in their building for the last 10 years. They've made significant upgrades to their facilities and are looking to certify their performance initiatives through LEED. Their building has never been certified before.

B. Wile E. and Partners built a new complex in the heart of Looneytown last year. Their strong commitment to sustainability led them to use LEED during the construction of their project. They received LEED silver certification through LEED for Building Design and Construction. Now they want to verify that their building is performing exactly the way they intended.

C. Road Runner Industries are ahead of the curve (as always). They certified their building with LEED for Operations and Maintenance three years ago. They've been monitoring their performance since their initial O+M certification.

Each of these projects is considering a LEED for Operations and Maintenance certification. But they may not approach their certifications in the same way. Do you know how these scenarios would play out?

Any first-time certification application to LEED for Operations & Maintenance is considered an initial O+M certification. This includes applications for buildings never previously certified under LEED and buildings previously certified under LEED for Building Design and Construction. Any certification application for a building that has already received a certification using O+M is considered an O+M recertification. O+M projects must apply for recertification at least once every 5 years to maintain their O+M certification (but they can also apply as frequently as every year). If projects don't recertify by the 5 year mark, it's back to the beginning—their next application will be considered an initial certification application.

Let's go back to our scenarios to illustrate:

A. Acme Inc: They've never certified using O+M (or any rating system) so this is their initial O+M certification.

B. Wile E. and Partners: Although they've certified their building using BD+C, this is the first time they'll be going after an O+M certification. So they'll also be completing an initial O+M certification.

C. Road Runner Industries: Their building has only been certified using O+M. They'll need to submit an application for recertification within the next two years.

Why recertification?

Recertification allows projects to maintain certified high-performance operations. When embarking on the O+M certification process for the first time, teams are encouraged to plan ahead for recertification. Realizing that changes in mechanics and staff will occur is the first step to maintaining O+M certification. For example, critical operating components will wear out and, if left in worn condition, cause indoor environmental quality, building performance, and the environment to suffer. Similarly, as changes are made in staff, responsibility for policies, programs, and plans will shift. 

The project team should set goals to help maintain efficient and clean performance. Such goals may include continued data collection, ongoing commissioning, and documentation of operational changes, records from purchases, and new product specs. Setting and maintaining such goals will make the recertification process easier. If management requires periodic reports on the building’s operational status, keep these documents as reference for future O+M certification applications. 

Best practices for recertification

  • For LEED-related policies and procedures that were in place at the time of initial certification and did not change before recertification under the same version of the rating system, record adherence to those policies and procedures through progress reports and other reporting methods. For example, record maintenance and repair activities throughout the building and site, and track occupants’ purchasing and waste streams to verify performance goals.
  • Update policies and procedures as changes occur on-site. Catalogue these changes and track implementation. For example, update building energy consumption in the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool on a regular basis. 
  • Maintain the minimum level of tenant occupancy. 
  • Track lease rates and occupants’ satisfaction with the building and site to identify areas for improvement. 
  • When vendor contracts are renewed or put out to bid, make sure that sustainability components are retained in the new contracts.
  • Stay informed of LEED updates, and adjust the building’s sustainability measures accordingly. 

Questions? Have a better explanation? Leave them in the comments section below.

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    Tiffany Coyle made 10 contributions in the last 6 months

Tiffany Coyle

Digital Marketing Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

4 commentsLeave a comment

UHG LLC
What is the last day you can apply for the 5 year recertification? Is it the day payment was processed? date applied? review returned date? or another date.
Manager, Program Integration, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Darren- The 5 years for recertification starts on the date that the previous certification was accepted. 5 years from that date, if the building has not been recertified, the certification is considered to be expired. If you need to recertify a building with a recertification performance period that is longer than 5 years, please contact us (http://www.gbci.org/org-nav/contact/Contact-Us/Project-Certification-Que...) to discuss the circumstances and we'll help you determine the correct path forward.
LEED Program Assistant, University of California, Santa Barbara
Hello, a question: I work on a university campus with a large number of buildings, and so after the initial O+M certification of a building, it is near impossible to continue tracking EVERY metric that needs to be tracked for O+M recertification. Does this mean that every building that has been previously O+M certified technically would go through a whole different O+M certification again, even though to the campus it looks as if it would be recertified? Thank you
Manager, Program Integration, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Cassidy- In a nutshell, yes. As stated in the Recertification Guidance, LEED is a long-term commitment to environmental best practices in the building industry, and LEED-EBOM promotes the ongoing implementation of leading practices in building operations and sustaining high levels of performance. If the best management practices are not implemented and tracked continuously after certification, the buildings will not qualify for recertification and would be required to go through new initial certifications.

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