Energy Efficiency Goes Hand in Hand with Renewable Certification Efforts

November 30, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

green_buildingPositive reinforcement — along with constructive criticism, usable suggestions and guidance — is important to energy managers implementing building management tools aimed at creating more environmentally sound structures and facilities.

Codes from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and other standards-settings bodies and the increasing number of “stretch” and “reach” codes that push municipalities are ways of ensuring that new and existing facilities measure up. Strengthened standards also are being encouraged by organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council. Its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard, which offers Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum level certification, is considered an important step in the road to efficient and environmentally sound operations.

LEED is the highest profile but not the only renewable standard program, however. This week, two of the others — The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) — announced that they will work together.

The press release says that in cases in which their goals overlap, IWBI and WELL Building will cross honor documentation and “mutually identify specific credits.” What the organizations refer to as the “crosswalk” — the specific areas on which the groups will work together and how — is expected to be done by the end of January, 2017.

The increasing interest in renewables and energy efficiency is enabling these organizations to grow in importance. The bottom line is that they work to normalize environmental efforts. This has a big impact on energy efficiency and the day-to-day activities of building managers and their staffs.

Building efficiency is the result of big changes (such as the switchover to cogeneration) and many smaller projects (such as area sensors and the use of LEDs). Each of these demands investment, the attention of energy managers and, in some cases, retraining. For this reason, energy managers and their staffs are on the front lines of efforts to win certification from such organizations.

There is a good deal of activity in the green/energy efficiency realm.

Last month, IWBI introduced a precertification tool, core and shell certification and expanded the WELL Accredited Professional Credential. The press release said that IWBI during the first two years of its existence, the WELL standard has been adopted by more than 270 projects covering 57 million square feet across six continents. The group .

BREEAM also made  big moves recently. The company began registering buildings for BREEAM USA certification at the beginning of October. Indeed, it’s the first initiative in the United States that ties all three efforts together: In addition to participation in the BREEAM In-Use green building assessment, The Bloc — which occupies an entire block in Los Angeles — also holds LEED Silver certification and works with the WELL program, according to Environmental Leader, which is Energy Manager Today’s sister site.

Such groups are important for three main reasons. The most obvious is that by following their standards, buildings gradually become more energy efficient and environmentally sound.

On a slightly more subtle note, such organizations tend to drive interest in these goals by the public acclaim they generate. Now, for instance, owners of buildings that win LEED certification are apt to note that in corporate reports and brochures and other documents that reach regulators and the public. It likely is mentioned during sales presentations and at other meetings.

The third compelling reason that these efforts are beneficial is that the buildings that follow them are worth more. For instance, RENTCafé — which is part of Yardi — released research on Monday that pointed to a high premium in rents that landlords can charge for green buildings. “Our study through Yardi Matrix found that most LEED-certified units rent at 33% above average across all asset classes,” wrote Matt Eggers, Vice President Yardi Energy in response to a question from Energy Manager Today. “LEED certification can certainly justify higher rents, especially when targeting Baby Boomers, who appear most willing to spend more than $500 a month on a green certified apartment to get increased energy efficiency, better air quality and temperature control and homes with healthier building materials.”

 

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