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LEED Certification for Existing Buildings: The Next Big Opportunity

leedThe US EPA estimates that as much as 30% of the energy consumed in office buildings is wasted. This suggests a significant opportunity for energy use reduction, cost savings, and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions through cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities. With the tremendous amount of existing office and warehouse space currently available, is LEED Certification for existing buildings going to be the next phase in growth for the construction industry?

According to some studies, existing buildings represent only 4 percent of LEED certified square footage, but they account for 20 percent of LEED registered square feet. This trend should lead the way for a complete retrofit and revitalization of existing buildings, whether it be office, warehouse, retail or other space.

The first areas of interest will be for low hanging fruit, such as lighting, HVAC, insulation and roofing, all which can offer substantial and immediate paybacks, from an economic point of view, in terms of energy savings and possible tax credits.

More major retrofits will surely follow, as the economy picks up, tax credits improve for retrofits and as more companies try to improve their sustainability, whether its for corporate goodwill, corporate social responsibility or government mandated.

Although the LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system will be very difficult to achieve, it will serve as an excellent benchmark for most projects.

Ari Kobb, in an article entitled, Reaching the Green Building Tipping Point for Retrofits, notes that, when using the LEED EBOM rating system as your guideline, you may want to pursue the following steps first:
• Benchmarking the building’s energy performance using Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
• Meter as much of the building as possible. If you can’t measure how much energy the building is using it’s to hard to pinpoint areas of optimization and savings.
• Invest in an energy reporting and monitoring software package.
• Evaluate current policies and procedures regarding areas such as purchasing and recycling.
• Engage the building occupants, and make sure that everyone is aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where you are going.

As billions of dollars will be spent over the next decade on infrastructure projects, it is encouraging to see the growth of the greening of existing buildings. Millions of square feet of commercial properties can use modernizing to LEED-EB:O&M guidelines, and the country will be better for it.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow…today.
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Robert Piller, experienced in green marketing campaigns and environmentally-friendly promotional products. His web site includes a comprehensive eco-friendly advertising specialty search, featuring over 250,000 eco promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find recyclable, biodegradable, organic or recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame. View the Go Green website at EcoMarketingSolutions.com and comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com.

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  1. June 29th, 2010 at 09:12 | #1

    I am glad to have discovered your blog. I will definitely promote this blog among my circle of friends.

  2. June 29th, 2010 at 09:16 | #2

    Thanks. Looking forward to hearing their feedback and viewpoints.

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