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Spring 2011

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Coming in June - LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance

LEED Automation: The Future of LEED

Green Building Information Gateway

From the Desk of Gwen Sheinfeld: Prepare for the Launch of the LEED Volume Program for Operations & Maintenance

Coming in June - LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance

USGBC's highly anticipated LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance will launch on June 27, 2011 at the BOMA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The program, an expansion of the successful LEED Volume Program for Design and Construction, will provide companies with the option to pursue Volume certification for both new and existing buildings within their portfolios.

"The development of this program stemmed from the positive feedback we received from many of the key players involved with the LEED Volume Program for Design and Construction," said Doug Gatlin, Vice President of Market Development, USGBC. "It will allow USGBC to remain firm in its ongoing commitment to providing efficient and cost-saving solutions to our biggest users of LEED."

One of the most compelling features of the LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance is the flexibility to design prototype strategies according to the specifics of an organization's group of buildings and its management structure. When an organization has management similarities across a group of buildings, it can leverage those existing similarities to facilitate a streamlined LEED documentation process.

Companies who participate in the LEED Volume Program can profit in the following ways:

  • Savings from a streamlined, audit-based certification review process
  • Greater economies of scale for owners and managers of large real estate portfolios
  • Lower costs than those associated with traditional LEED certification

Learn more about the LEED Volume Program by visiting www.usgbc.org/volume, and be sure to check back closer to the June 27th launch date for updated website content and materials.

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LEED Automation: The Future of LEED

USGBC’s LEED green building certification system is constantly evolving in order to meet the ever-changing demands of the building industry. Several years ago, USGBC recognized the need to not only focus on the continuous improvement of LEED, but to also find new methods of enhancing the processes by which LEED certifications are administered. This led to the creation of LEED Online, which marked the first major shift in the way data, information and content were gathered and stored. Now, as LEED prepares to enter its next major phase of evolution, the future of data tracking and integration exists within LEED Automation.

During Greenbuild 2010, USGBC unveiled LEED Automation – a program that will streamline the LEED certification process for green building projects under development by allowing various technology platforms to seamlessly integrate with LEED Online. This new capability will perform three major functions for LEED project teams:

  • Simplify various LEED documentation processes through automation
  • Standardize of LEED-specific content and allow that content to be distributed consistently across a variety of technological interfaces
  • Deliver LEED users a unified view of their projects

“Automation has the potential to provide every project with plug-and-play options that will streamline data reporting from day-one and on through every recertification,” said Lauren Riggs, Manager of LEED Performance at USGBC.

LEED Automation is currently under development and is expected to be available in 2012.

Questions or comments? Email commercialrealestate@usgbc.org.

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Green Building Information Gateway

The Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) is a growing family of tools to exchange and analyze information about the green building industry. GBIG provides users with the ability to explore, compare and benchmark projects, places and strategies. Over time, GBIG will grow to include a rich set of analytical tools and resources including dashboards, decision support resources, data collection and exchange platforms, and analyst reports. These resources will accelerate market transformation by enabling evidence-based, analytically informed green building practice.

The existing GBIG app prototypes include a project discovery and benchmarking tool that can be found at gbig.org and two mobile apps for exploring case studies and comparing LEED projects (available for free in the iTunes Store under GBIG Explorer and GBIG Analyst). The next GBIG app, GBIG Explorer Place, will expand these capabilities to places (city, county, state), allowing users to explore, compare and benchmark geographic areas based on their level of green building achievement and activity.

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From the Desk of Gwen Sheinfeld:

Expert Tips to Prepare for the Launch of the LEED Volume Program for Operations & Maintenance

As the Director of Corporate Sustainability at Healthy Buildings, I prepare building owners and managers to position their buildings for participation in Volume certification in anticipation of the launch of the LEED Volume Program for Operations & Maintenance at the end of June. Through my previous work as a Sustainability Strategist at Cushman & Wakefield working on the LEED Volume Pilot Program for Operations and Maintenance, I gleaned valuable lessons on effectively achieving volume certification for existing buildings. The following article will discuss some of the lessons learned, and will assist groups preparing to engage in volume certification.

Lessons Learned

The most significant lesson I learned from working on LEED Volume Pilot Program was the importance of developing a clear strategy, grounded in a logical flow of actions and responsible parties. Working with several properties and people at the same time demands extremely organized systems at both the building and portfolio level. When documenting credits for LEED certification, the order of operations can be dictated by which credits are easier or less expensive to achieve. These decisions do not always encourage a path to maximizing certifications in a streamlined, cost-effective and timely fashion. Selecting which credits to pursue, when to pursue them, and who is ultimately responsible for ongoing documentation is critical, especially for volume certification.

The volume certification process for existing buildings offers enormous flexibility to design prototype strategies tailored to an organization's portfolio and existing management practices. Similarities in management practices across a group of buildings can be leveraged to facilitate a streamlined LEED documentation process. The approaches outlined below were specifically developed for a national property management firm and will provide property management firms and building owners with some of the basics to participating in the LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance.

Project Management Support

Engaging a team to participate in the development and implementation of the program is critical. Each volume participant identifies a prototype administrator who will be responsible for developing pre-certification and ongoing certification submittals for USGBC/GBCI, creating documentation tools, managing volume project teams, providing training and performing quality control of building-level documentation. In addition to key in-house personnel required to manage the project, an outside consultant may be very helpful in guiding the process. In preparation for the launch of the program, I am working with clients to identify prototype administrators and to develop their teams.

Development of Precertification Package for Submittal to USGBC

Unlike an individual certification program, volume participants must prepare and submit a prototype precertification package to USGBC/GBCI to seek approval for the strategic approach. A Quality Control Plan, education plan, and prototype credit documentation are developed to account for the characteristics of a participant's group of buildings. All precertification submissions outline how the participant will manage pre-performance period activities, performance period dates, post-performance period data analysis and team training. The precertification package requires a description of the tools to facilitate the process, education and training of building staff, credit documentation (including building-level and portfolio-level tools) and the quality control process. I am working with clients now to frame out the contents of their precertification packages.

Program Tools

The LEED Volume Program offers significant flexibility in the tools and formats that participants use to document volume projects. Below are examples of some building-level and portfolio-level program tools that can be used as part of a participant's quality control and education plans and be beneficial in tracking ongoing performance.

Procedures Manual
USGBC will release comprehensive customer guidance documents when the full LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance is launched at the end of June, providing assistance on general program procedures as well as submittals. However, it can be advantageous for volume participants to create their own procedures manuals, as part of their Quality Control Plan, to provide organization-specific program details. Similar to the LEED reference guides, a procedures manual outlines credit intent and requirements, procedures and documentation requirements and sample narratives. For the Cushman & Wakefield program, we worked hand-in-hand with CTG Energetics to develop a procedures manual, which took a significant amount of work to develop initially, but will likely be amortized as it is used and improved with each group of buildings seeking volume certification.

Credit Compliance Tools
Instead of requiring volume participants to exclusively use the LEED credit forms, the Volume Program allows organizations to define their own tools for verifying achievement. The prototype administrator can design customized credit compliance tools to mimic some aspects of LEED credit forms, while leveraging building and management similarities to streamline the documentation process. For Cushman & Wakefield, credit tools were developed by a consultant, with roll-up capabilities from individual building tools into portfolio level summaries.

Policies and Plans
Volume participants can develop standardized policies and plans tailored to operational management practices that meet prerequisite and/or credit requirements. The policies and plans can be vetted at a corporate or portfolio level to ensure consistency with existing policies for the company's building operations and maintenance practices. Additionally, where possible, the policies and plans can be integrated into existing property management operations and maintenance manuals in an effort to institutionalize them into company culture. This was a successful component of the C&W program since the policies developed for LEED submittals were modified for company-wide implementation.

Metrics Digest
A digest report on a participant's performance across a group of buildings can be developed to provide a snapshot view of credit achievement across the group. This type of tool can provide updates to the prototype administrator on the certification status of the group, and can indicate if certain buildings need attention.

Web-based trainings
In order to ensure successful implementation, prototype administrators or their consultants can conduct web-based trainings as part of their education plan, throughout each phase of the program. Initially, teams often need training on green building basics and on the intent of the rating system requirements. During the performance period, training should cover maintaining credit documentation requirements and quality control. At C&W we held bi-weekly, web-based trainings.

For more information, please visit usgbc.org/leedvolume, and stay tuned for more information on the LEED Volume Program for Operations and Maintenance.

Gwen Sheinfeld, LEED AP
Director of Corporate Sustainability
Healthy Buildings

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