Q: What is LEED™ and how many buildings have been LEED-certified to date?
When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was founded approximately 10 years ago by developer David A. Gottfried and lawyer Michael L. Italiano, the goal was simple – to transform the marketplace. “They recognized very early on that you need to have a definition of green building that everybody can get behind and work with – and they needed to build that into a rating system. That’s how LEED evolved,” explains Nigel Howard, vice president, LEED and International Programs, U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C. The USGBC created the program to:
Define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement.
Promote integrated, whole-building design practices.
Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry.
Stimulate green competition.
Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits.
Transform the building market.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System™ (www.usgbc.com/leed) for New Construction (LEED-NC) was developed and launched in March of 2000. There are currently 93 buildings that have been certified. “There are 1,193 registered projects that represent 150 million square feet of floor space,” Howard adds. Because the program is still relatively young and the timeline of construction projects usually spans three years or more, the certification process has really just begun. If the nearly 1,200 projects seeking certification are any indication, interest is growing – and rapidly.
Hoping to expand the LEED program, the USGBC is currently developing subsequent versions of the rating system, applicable to different building team members and stages in a building’s life- cycle. New versions include LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB), which focuses on building operations and was developed for facility management professionals and tenants.
“At the same time, we’re also developing LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI),” Howard shares. “Really, that’s intended for the interior designer, and again, the facility manager and tenants of buildings who are fitting out a space that would otherwise be just a basic core and shell.” This program provides an incentive to organizations that might not have complete control over a building’s development, but can effectively direct and implement sustainable strategies during the build-out phase of their space. These two programs, LEED-EB and LEED-CI, have been developed with pilot programs implemented in more than 150 buildings collectively during the past year. The USGBC is optimistic that these two versions of the LEED rating system will be launched before the end of 2004.
Additionally, the USGBC is working on LEED for Core and Shell projects (LEED-CS), which was created to address the interests of speculative developers. “It dovetails nicely with [LEED for] Commercial Interiors because the speculative developer may build the core and shell of the building, but they won’t have any control over how the tenants might fit the building out,” says Howard. With a pilot program under way, the LEED-CS program hopes to pre-certify developers’ intents so they can effectively market the building to investors and tenants as a certified project. Howard explains, “When the building is completed, it can then go through the full LEED for Core and Shell certification. In the meantime, we will require that any developer that gets its project pre-certified has to write the pre-certification performance into the tenants’ leases. This should ensure that developers really deliver on their pre-certification declarations.”
The final two versions of LEED being developed include LEED for Homes (LEED-H) and LEED for Neighborhood Developments. “LEED for Neighborhood Developments is really extending beyond the single building. In that version of LEED, we’ll be able to address a wider range of issues that have to do with infrastructure, water resources, transportation implications, and sprawl, and will be able to look at integrated mixed-use types of development,” Howard says.
There are four ways in which the public can increase sustainability and set the world on a path toward greater environmental awareness and action, according to Howard. The USGBC is a tool to help guide individuals’ choices and more clearly signal positive change on the environmental front.
The public can make preferential choices when purchasing products and services. “The public act on behalf of themselves personally. They act on behalf of their families and they act on behalf of the organizations they work for. In those three perspectives, they are making decisions and we need to inform their buying power. That’s what LEED does to start with,” he says.
The public can invest in sustainable companies. Companies can demonstrate their commitment to the environment by noting that occupied buildings are LEED-certified in annual reports, clearly pinpointing for investors a company’s dedication to reduce its negative impact on the planet’s ecosystems.
The public can choose where to work. “If a company has a LEED certification plaque in its foyer that people walk by every day, that is reinforcing the message that this is a company that you want to work for, for its ethical and environmental values,” Howard explains.
The public can vote. Politicians with an agenda that preserves our environment and lessens the negative impact of industry often choose to participate in the dedication of new LEED-certified building ceremonies. According to Howard, “They want to be associated also with this ethical and environmentally friendly agenda.”
To find out more about the USGBC or its LEED programs, call (202) 828-7422, e-mail (email@example.com), or visit the organization’s website (www.usgbc.org).
Q: What does “GREENGUARD-certified” mean and why should I invest in low-emitting products?
The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is a non-profit organization founded in June of 2001. The organization’s GREENGUARD Certification Program™ provides independent, third-party testing for low-emitting products and materials. “Bottom line, [GREENGUARD certification] means that the product will not have a significant impact on the indoor air quality of a building,” says Henning M. Bloech, director of communications, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, Marietta, GA. “It means that this product or a representative product is being tested on a regular basis for the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is found to perform within the GREENGUARD indoor air quality standards.”
The standards are stringent and not every product will pass. “Only 10 to 15 percent of products can actually meet [the standard] on the first go. That alone shows that this is not a walk in the park for a manufacturer,” he explains.
The voluntary certification pro-gram is a four-step process. After a manufacturer has approached GEI, a profile study is conducted. The profile study determines which product is most likely to have high emissions, and this product becomes the representative sample that is tested. “The manufacturer, in the end, does not have to test every single variation of the product, which would be impractical and very costly,” Bloech explains.
Next, GEI representatives pay a visit to the company’s manufacturing facility. This facilitates a better understanding of how the product is made. It is also a chance to determine if continuity and quality control are present in the manufacturing process. Various processes and manufacturing conditions can alter the product’s emissions. “If the manufacturer doesn’t have its proc-esses controlled, it’s very hard for us to say, ‘We certify this product,’ because it could be a completely different product a month from now,” says Bloech.
The third step is the most important – testing. The testing procedure encloses the representative sample of the product (determined in the profile study) in an environmental test chamber for 96 hours. According to Bloech, “We see how the chemical emissions are early on and then we take six samples along the way to see how it performs over time. Most products, like paint, don’t emit constantly at the same level.” In addition to this annual test, the product or certain components of the product must undergo a quarterly monitoring test. This 24-hour test can indicate if any small changes have occurred that will negatively impact the product’s ability to meet testing standards.
Products that meet the necessary emissions performance levels are awarded GREENGUARD certification. The process doesn’t end here, however. Company marketing materials are closely monitored by GEI. “We have to make sure that there is no misleading information or statements linking other products that are not certified to this certification,” Bloech explains. “We make sure that the certification mark is only used in conjunction with the products that are certified.”
There is no additional cost to purchase a GREENGUARD-certified product and the certification program requires that all products be standard, off-the-shelf models. Custom products are not certified. Additionally, the GREENGUARD certification process is performance-based, differentiating it from other claims. “If you buy a no-VOC or low-VOC paint, this is a content-based statement. GREENGUARD is performance-based. That means we don’t really care what’s in your product, we just care what comes off of it [and] how the product impacts indoor air quality,” Bloech says.
The benefits of purchasing low-emitting products, such as those certified by GEI, are numerous. “If people don’t have headaches anymore or don’t experience the negative side effects that go along with poor indoor air quality, they usually have higher morale, less sick leave, less turnover, and so forth. If you’re a building owner and you rent out your building … this is an additional selling point,” says Bloech.
To find out more about the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, call (800) 427-9681 or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). For a list of GREENGUARD-certified products, visit the organization’s website (www.greenguard.org).
Q: What work has Green Seal completed to support the greening of commercial, institutional, and governmental buildings?
Green Seal is an independent, non-profit organization that identifies and promotes products and services, as well as operations and maintenance strategies, which strive to be more environmentally friendly. “The building as we know it is a microcosm, and a collection of all sorts of materials, products, and services that are found in the economy and that people use. It’s a great umbrella under which to push a green economy,” says Arthur Weissman, president and CEO, Green Seal, Washington, D.C. The organization has been actively pursuing this goal since 1989, and offers a number of resources, programs, and guidance to facilities professionals. Specific programs include “Greening Your Government” and “Greening the Lodging Industry.” Green Seal also provides technical data in the form of its Choose Green Reports that provide product recommendations and have developed environmental standards and certification for a number of different categories of products.
The organization also worked with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to develop The Pennsylvania Green Building Operations and Maintenance Manual in 2000-2001. This first-of-its-kind manual is helping the state green its building management practices and has been distributed to most state facilities. To download a copy of this manual, visit the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of General Services website (www.dgs.state.pa.us/dgs/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=118184).
For more information on Green Seal and its programs, call (202) 872-6400, e-mail (email@example.com), or visit the organization’s website (www.greenseal.org).
Q: Are my peers subscribing to “green” ideas, and what is IFMA doing to provide “green” education and information?
With a membership of more than 17,000 facilities professionals in 55 countries, the Houston-based International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is working to bring education and research on green topics to the building industry globally. According to the 2003 Sustainability Study (conducted among members by IFMA with support from DuPont Commercial Flooring), results reveal that 84 percent of respondents are either currently implementing or planning to implement green strategies in the future. “My feeling is that facilities people are prepared to do whatever it takes, but as with anything, it has to be balanced with what’s available to spend. They might have to make choices about where they spend their money, but there’s nothing to say that it won’t strategically come up later on. I think it’s critical that if they’re not doing it today, they have plans to think about doing more of it tomorrow,” says Sheila Sheridan, chairman, Board of Directors, IFMA, Houston.
According to Sheridan, interest is growing, and rapidly. “It’s become quite common for IFMA to discuss green buildings and green initiatives. It’s no longer someone saying, ‘Well, let me tell you about it.’ It’s more [common to hear], ‘I need to know more,’” she explains. IFMA has responded, and the organization’s professional development group is working diligently to develop and supply more information and learning opportunities. At IFMA’s annual World Workplace Conference & Expo this past October, more than 25 presentations focused on the topic of sustainability and high-performance buildings.
Additionally, the organization is offering a multi-venue educational event titled High-Performance Green Buildings Seminar: The Definitive Seminar on the Business of Sustainability in 2004. The seminar is being sponsored by Kennesaw, GA-based Antron, and produced in cooperation with the International Interior Design Association, American Society of Interior Designers, and APPA (The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers). The seminar promises to provide attendees with tools and knowledge, including:
A research-based glossary of the language of sustainability.
Case studies of LEED-EB pilot projects.
ROI data to make the case and set expectations.
Implementation of job aids to jumpstart high-performance green projects.
A database of local resources and contacts.
IFMA is also teaming up with a dozen other organizations to facilitate even more sharing of knowledge. “Different groups are generating research in different areas, but when combined, the body of knowledge will be quite extensive. Building alliances and partnerships with other associations will enable us to provide even more knowledge than within our own association,” explains Sheridan. The first meeting of The Summit of Associations was held in August of 2003, and organized by the U.S. Green Building Council and Atlanta-based Interface, with a subsequent meeting held in late March of 2004.
To find out more about the educational opportunities offered by IFMA, call (713) 623-4362, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit the association’s website (www.ifma.org).
Q: What defines a high-performance building, and are they becoming mainstream?
“For us, it’s really three things. It’s better for people, it’s better for the environment, and it’s better for business because of those first two things,” says Dave Hewitt, manager, Commercial Sector Initiative, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Portland, OR. Hewitt, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and its BetterBricks network (www.betterbricks.com) encourage commercial building professionals to implement energy- efficient strategies and strive for high-performance buildings.
Hewitt warns that change won’t happen overnight. “Change always takes some time. We are still largely working with innovators and early adopters. We need to cross over into the mainstream. To effectively do that, the financial messaging really needs to be paid attention to,” says Hewitt. When implementing high-performance strategies in your building, Hewitt advises you look for areas where you can reap multiple benefits – improved productivity, decreased energy consumption, and greater flexibility in relationship to churn are just a few ways you can improve more than the bottom line.
To find out more about BetterBricks and high-performance buildings, e-mail (email@example.com) or visit its website (www.betterbricks.com).