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FM Issue: Going From Gray To Green

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Energy, Environment, FM Issue, In-Depth Articles, Magazine, Topics

Published on July 01, 2002 with No Comments

By Michael Arny
Published in the July 2002 issue of Today’s Facility Manager magazine

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) newest program, LEED EB (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Existing Buildings), provides a rating system for the sustainable operation of existing buildings over the long term. This rating system applies to building operations and system improvements that do not significantly change the interior or exterior of the buildings. [Editor's note: Building upgrades that significantly change the interior or exterior of the buildings are best addressed by the previously established LEED for New Buildings rating system.]

The goal of this program is to help building owners and facility executives raise the performance of their building to a sustainable level; it also sets out to maintain sustainable performance for that facility over the long term. Based on LEED Version 2.0 for new construction (launched in Spring 2000), LEED EB addresses the challenge of recognizing and certifying the energy efficiency and other sustainable actions in the large stock of existing buildings.

There are more than 4.5 million buildings in the U.S. with more than 58 billion square feet of floor space; nearly 71% of those buildings are more than 20 years old. Many of these buildings were constructed in the 1950s, and a good number are in need of renovation. In addition, many recently constructed facilities did not incorporate energy efficiency or other sustainable features.

About 250,000 significant building-improvement projects are conducted in the U.S. every year, but to date, only a small percentage of those projects are being carried out with green building measures in mind. Building renovations costing $128.2 billion were implemented in 2001, which is 56% of the $230.9 billion construction industry total.

Everything Green Is New Again

LEED EB addresses the same five issues as the original LEED program—Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality—but from the perspective of existing building operation.

Existing building operation is really where “the rubber meets the road.” For a building to be operated in a sustainable way, managers need to orchestrate and deliver appropriate operation on a consistent basis. LEED EB helps these professionals get their building systems and procedures on track for sustainable operation—and keep them there.

LEED EB ratings are based on the actual operating performance of the buildings. Several steps are involved in participation: getting buildings systems and operations up to the desired standard; setting up a performance tracking system to make sure they are kept up; and periodic reporting to the USGBC so the ongoing level of sustainable performance can be rated.

Rating Reality Check

The rating system can be used by building owners and operators in several different ways:

  • Currently sustainable buildings. Operators of these buildings can use LEED EB to refine the processes and keep score on the building’s achievements.
  • Current upgrades. Some building operators will use the rating system as a guide for current projects in order to bring systems up to the desired standard. This can help set up a performance tracking system that maintains desired standards.
  • Improved operating practices. Building operators who do not have a current building upgrade project can use the rating system as a guide for bringing their operating practices up to the desired standard. It can also guide their future building upgrade projects as they occur in order to bring their building systems up to a sustainable level of performance over time.
  • Sustaining LEED certification for new buildings. Buildings that received a LEED for New Buildings rating when they were designed and constructed will use LEED EB to maintain sustainable building operation over time.

LEED EB Pilot Program

LEED EB is being pilot tested at more that 50 buildings, representing a broad range of facilities (including Wedge Two of the Pentagon Renovation). The pilot, which will run from June 2002 through June 2003, is being used to review and improve LEED EB.

The Pilot Draft of the LEED EB rating system is available for download from the LEED EB Web page on the U.S. Green Building Council Web site at

In January, a revised version of LEED EB (called the ballot draft) will be prepared based on what is learned in the first half of the pilot. The ballot draft will go through the USGBC review and approval process. The final version of the program should be launched by June 2003.

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About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at

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