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LinkLine: Summer 2007

Specifying LEED-EB for Existing Buildings

Although at first glance LEED-EB might seem to be unrelated to construction, the goal of certifying an existing building under LEED-EB might lead to the need for some construction-related upgrades. This is likely to be a good market for A/Es, since the concepts of "greening" and "sustainability" are gaining in popularity. As might be expected, LEED-EB includes prerequisites and credits that are different from those for -NC, -CS, and -CI, but there is considerable overlap.

Some credits have the same intent but are implemented differently. For instance, the credit dealing with isolation of all rooms where hazardous gases or chemicals might be present (referred to as "Indoor Chemical & Pollutant Source Control" in -NC, -CS, and -CI) is limited to high-volume copy/print/fax rooms and janitor closets in -EB. The -EB credits for alternative materials (recycled, rapidly renewable, etc.) and IAQ-compliant materials apply to all acquisitions of such materials over the certification period, which is usually one year, meaning that the owner must document all purchasing regardless of whether a construction project is involved.

Other credits are unique to -EB, such as those that can be obtained simply by documenting operating and maintenance procedures—for instance, low environmental impact cleaning materials and equipment and pest control. On the other hand, the minimum number of credits for -EB certification at all levels (Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) is the highest of all the rating systems, with a larger number of prerequisites.

In general, a recently constructed, relatively energy efficient building could probably be certified at the minimum level under -EB without any upgrades, although some work by the owner's facility personnel would probably be needed. Anyone investigating the possibility of -EB certification of a building should first look at the prerequisites, which include the age of the building (over 2 years), minimum water efficiency, retrocommissioning (which can be phased over 5 years), a solid waste stream audit, a plan for reduction of mercury in light bulbs, environmental tobacco smoke control, and asbestos and PCB abatement plans, as well as the prerequisites required for -NC. The LEED Credit Summary in SpecLink "walks" the specifier through identifying the credits to be addressed, and offers some design solutions. It also helps document whether the existing building can achieve the credit without modifications or whether the owner's operation and maintenance (O&M) program must address the credit.