Why Property Owners and Managers Pursue LEED EBOM Certification


There is a reason that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for 'Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance' (EBOM) is the fastest growing segment in U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system: it makes good business sense.

In California, the number of LEED EBOM registered projects has jumped over 300 percent since 2008 (Source: Greenbiz.com). Since the beginning of the year, Waste Management has been working with more than a dozen new LEED EBOM projects in Atlanta; these include commercial buildings ranging from 150 thousand to 1 million square feet.

As companies advance sustainable business practices, they are looking for offices and facilities that support their goals and are increasingly willing to pay more for LEED certified space. A LEED-certified building leases for approximately 2% more per square foot.

Waste Management's own LEED accredited Business Development Manager, Karen Stiles explains:

"Property owners understand that LEED EBOM gives them a competitive edge. Existing buildings with LEED certification attract new tenants, capture 1-5% higher rates per square foot, and generally ensure a higher occupancy rate. Furthermore, implementing LEED EBOM practices often reduces operating costs."

The process for certifying existing buildings differs radically from the system for new construction. For new construction, the LEED checklist focuses on the construction, the mechanical systems, and the materials used in the building. For existing buildings, the attention is on building operations and maintenance, more than the construction itself. In both cases, the certification must be renewed every five years.

The LEED EBOM checklist is readily available from USGBC and covers six primary areas:

• Sustainable Sites – includes credits for the structure itself, the project site and access to public transportation;

• Water Efficiency – includes indoor and outdoor water conservation;

• Energy and Atmosphere – includes energy management assessments, energy metering, and use of renewable energy;

• Materials and Resources – includes a solid waste management and sustainable purchasing policies and implementation of waste management and sustainable purchasing measures for consumables, durable goods, and facilities;

• Indoor Environmental Quality – includes ventilation, thermal control, sustainable cleaning;

• Innovation in Operations – includes novel project planning and technologies.

A property can earn credits for over 33 different categories on the LEED EBOM 2009 checklist. Not all areas need to be addressed, but a property must earn more than 40 points to secure certification and over 80 points to earn platinum level status.

Among the more accessible credits are those related to the management of waste:

"Because waste is an activity over which tenants have significant control, it is often a LEED EBOM option that is tapped," explains Karen. "In addition, properties must meet a minimum set of requirements to secure certification. A solid waste management policy is one of these pre-requisites."

For commercial property owners, there are two primary challenges in managing the LEED process for existing buildings. The first has to do with navigating and planning for initial LEED rating. The second, and perhaps more complex, is the ongoing monitoring and metering of water efficiency, energy usage, and waste diversion that will enable a property to recertify and maintain its LEED status.

Waste Management offers significant support for both the initial and ongoing LEED process. Over 75% of Waste Management's Sustainability Services consultants and business development managers are LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) or LEED Greeen Associates (LEED GA). They can be instrumental in stewarding the initial planning and certification process.

For more information on LEED EBOM certification, contact Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit our website at wmsustainabilityservices.com.

About the Author

Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc. is North America's leading provider of integrated environmental solutions. We partner with our customers and communities to manage and reduce waste from collection to disposal while recovering valuable resources and creating clean, renewable energy.

Our 45,000 employees are committed to Environmental Performance — our mission to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Serving over 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers, Waste Management posted $12.52 billion of revenues in 2010.

Drawing on our resources and experience, we actively pursue projects and initiatives that benefit the waste industry, the communities we serve and the environment.

• Waste Management uses waste to create enough energy to power more than 1 million homes every year. By 2020, we expect to double that output, creating enough energy to power more than 2 million homes.

• As North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management managed more than 7 million tons of recyclable commodities in 2009. By the year 2020, we expect to increase the amount of material we manage to more than 20 million tons per year.

• By the end of 2009, Waste Management had 119 landfill-gas-to-energy projects producing 540 megawatts of power, the equivalent of powering approximately 400,000 homes.

• At the end of 2009, we had more than 800 natural gas-powered trucks in our fleet, with plans to add 200 more in 2010. During the year, we also used technology to reduce the fuel burn of every truck in our fleet. When fully implemented, this is expected to save 9 million gallons of fuel per year.

• Our wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies owns or operates 16 waste-to-energy plants and five independent power production facilities in the U.S. that generate enough energy to power more than 900,000 homes.

• Through a joint venture with the Linde Group, we have built a plant that converts landfill gas into liquefied natural gas for use as fuel in our trucks. The facility is currently producing 13,000 gallons per day.

• At the end of 2009, we had a total of 73 WHC-certified sites. We also set a goal to have 25,000 acres dedicated solely to nature preservation by 2020, and we have nearly reached that goal: at year-end, we had 24,000 protected acres.