LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v3 - LEED 2009
Verizon LEED Stores Prototype Profile
LEED Gold 2011
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
In 2008 Verizon formed a cross functional green team to scope out greening our portfolio in alignment with LEED. The team included stakeholders from procurement, real estate and facilities, and our corporate architect and green building partners. We wanted to bring those groups together to identify a consistent and holistic approach to our green stores.
We were seeing individual municipalities around the country start implementing green codes and standards. Verizon wanted to be proactively ahead of the market changes, throughout the prototype development process there was a focus on risk mitigation. There was a realization that market transformation was happening and we wanted to be ahead of the curve.
An important outcome of those early meeting was Verizon's desire to focus on the following three things:
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
Initially we certified three pilot stores, two in the West Area and one in the Midwest Area. We identified what were common items for the scorecard across the regionalized areas. We started with the credits and strategies that were easy to obtain and then focused on what was more site specific.
In terms of our quality control we had always done punch lists, but through the LEED Volume Program we started doing commissioning with a much more detailed focus on Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (MEP). For example, in the Midwest a sub-contractor working on the HVAC for one of our stores had not followed the design specs. Instead of an 8 inch square duct he switched to 6 inch round ductwork. The rooftop mechanical unit needed air very badly because the returns were undersized. Because of this, water was being pulled across the seam of the unit. This is an example of commissioning identifying the issue before it became a significant problem. In this case resolving the issue was really cost avoidance, which is hard to measure. What would have been the cost of resolving air quality and customer and employee thermal comfort issues? Examples like this illustrate how
"LEED has been a framework for us to standardize these best practices in our portfolio and organization."
In terms of an education plan, LEED has been a large component of our public outreach and education. We started communicating LEED features to both employees and customers. They're both critical audiences. For the customers in the retail setting, their experience in the physical space is very important.
Given the regional diversity of Verizon's portfolio, how did you decide how much flexibility to build into the prototype?
In terms of developing the prototype and building in flexibility to account for our regional variability, the most progress was made when the team decided to get together face to face. We started by identifying items like credits and strategies to include across all areas. We made the stakeholders from various regions put a dot on an item if they didn't agree with the other regions. We physically mapped it out, identified strategies and credits to agree on, and then identified things that had to have flexibility and adaptability across all Verizon's areas. This was a resolution to the challenge of a decentralized model across various practice areas and regions and how we ensured accounting for regional adaptations when writing the volume application.
Early on we also agreed that our projects in LEED Volume were generally going to be manufacturer agnostic. There was a focus on meeting a performance standard. This was partly to give some autonomy to regional organizational structure and our service providers. With such regional diversity LEED Volume has been a platform to align our portfolio which ultimately drives efficiency.
What was the value of applying LEED to your portfolio?
The trend for incorporating sustainability into RFPs is rising. We have seen a significant rise in RFP's containing a dedicated section to sustainability and what we are doing around this space. With our LEED stores, we are able to differentiate Verizon Wireless on these RFPs as a company with a strong sustainability program.
Additionally, Verizon Wireless has a broad and deep market impact with its own vendors. As an example, a few years ago we were told green cleaning costs more since it was different than how the vendors were already doing it. As one of our requirements, our vendors adjusted their business practices, and now it's the standard and something they [the vendors] market to other clients.
We asked ourselves, "how can Verizon translate the understanding of sustainability to the average customer?" I think the response is, you need to put it in the context that is relevant to them. We realized that we did a great job telling our story when it came to industry events and conferences but we were missing a broader customer audience.
One way we reached that broader customer base was by translating the benefits of LEED Volume into editorials that educate and inspire to show how we are leading by example. One example of this is a published article in Retail Facilities Business .The article covered the benefits of LEED stores designs, like helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions and preserving precious natural resources. The article highlights, "this is why Verizon does it". These types of editorials really help us spread our message.
Verizon Powerful Answers - Cutting Our Carbon Intensity
A huge value of starting on this journey has been the knowledge transfer. Tapping into our green building advisor's skill set, we trained our staff and encouraged team to earn Green Associate or LEED AP. The field was trained on commissioning, lifecycle costs and green design integration. It's critical to train the people that build the stores since so much work is being done in the field. Overall, the Volume program has significantly reduced the need for outsourced service providers. Verizon has recognized real savings moving from doing "one off" LEED projects to going to the LEED Volume Program. We're experiencing ROI through standardization and internalization of the LEED tasks.
A large cost and time savings stemmed from our focus on the transition from external to internal commissioning and resolution of feedback from the quality assurance process. It's a long term commitment to our staff to train our team and learn more green skills. Another unexpected benefit was in some instances we found that our stores were able to get expedited reviews for permits. That didn't happen in every case, but sometimes LEED helped demonstrate our sustainable commitment to local municipalities and that streamlined the permitting process.
Lastly, part of us making the business case was looking at ongoing operations and maintenance. We found that Verizon had reduced an average of about two change orders during construction. Overall, we have fewer change orders on LEED stores than non LEED stores. Another distinction we noticed was fewer work orders in the first and second years versus stores that were not LEED certified. After normalization, between stores we found reduced utilities in our LEED stores.
At the beginning, before our participation in LEED Volume, it was a challenge doing the certifications as individual projects. For a company of our size and growth the reality was, one by one certifications was not necessarily cost effective and a real challenge to scale up with LEED.
"Moving from one off projects to Volume certification was a huge savings and made the business case."
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