Why Facility Managers Benefit from LEED EB Certification

Many people think that getting the facility manager on board for a LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED EB, or LEED EB O&M) project can be difficult process. The certification process is an extremely involved process and requires a lot of work on a facility manager’s part and can take years to complete. Many facility managers already have a lot of responsibilities and may not have time to take on the additional work. Building owners may feel as though a facility manager will not see the value in a plaque in the building saying that the building is sustainable; that they are more concerned with ensuring that the day to day performance of the building is sustainable.

A LEED EB project can not be successful without the commitment of the facility manager. There are a lot of benefits to a facility manager in achieving building certification and conveying these benefits clearly should bring most facility mangers on board with the project.

According to a recent article in Building Operating Management Magazine, facility managers, who have achieved LEED EB certification, not only see the value in following the LEED EB guidelines, they also see great value in pursuing certification of their buildings. Certification not only provides confirmation that a facility manager is operating a building well, but it also provides an opportunity for a facility manager to improve upon their building’s performance.

The LEED EB plaque provides building operators with confirmation that they are operating their building efficiently and sustainably. Without this proof there is no way of proving to owners, tenants, and other stakeholders that they operation and maintenance routines are effective. The article included a survey of 63 facility managers, who had used LEED EB. When asked, “What was the impetus for your decision to seek LEED-EBOM certification?”, the following responses were received:

  • 75% To compare ourselves favorably with other organizations
  • 37% Rigorous structure for sustainability; one goal to work towards
  • 24% Recognition from the C-suite for sustainability efforts
  • 13% Other

 The biggest motivation was the ability to compare a building against other buildings. Building certification is an effective way to compare a building’s operation to another building’s operation. You can not compare kilowatt hours to kilowatt hours since there are too many building variables that would have to be taken into account when making this comparison, such as size, number of occupants, building use, and hours of operation. Also you are energy use when looking at kilowatt hour consumption, you are not comparing tenant satisfaction, indoor environmental quality, or other building performance metrics, which LEED EB accounts for.

You need to compare a building  to understand how well it is performing. A building’s performance can not be evaluated against itself. Certification creates a means of making this comparison.

In the article, one facility manager pointed out that facility managers are already doing all the things that are in the LEED EB handbook, certification is just a matter of operating and maintaining the building to the LEED EB standards and documenting that they are doing so. Facility managers are operating all of the buildings systems. Using the LEED EB guidelines can help facility managers to improve upon what they are already doing.

Following the LEED guidelines will force building operators document their existing procedures and strive to make their building more efficient. Documenting procedures and building performance is a best management practice that would help to fine tune a building’s operation. For larger buildings, documenting building procedures would also provide consistency throughout the organization. This consistency will result in only the best management practices being followed rather than a variety of different  practices.

In my experience, facility managers are on board when it comes to any kind of energy efficiency improvement or documentation of the work they do. Facility managers and tenants do not speak about a building in the same way. Facility managers evaluate a building’s of kilowatt hours, cubic feet of gas, temperature, and other units. Tenants and owners evaluate a building in terms of occupancy rate, comfort, and image. A LEED EB plaque is a way for facility managers to show the tenants and owners that they are operating the building sustainable without having to discuss energy consumption and other technical aspects of the building.

Achieving LEED EB Certification may seem like a daunting endeavour, but the benefits to the building, which result from the certification process, far exceed the benefits of the plaque on the wall. Certification is an assurance that facility management is operating the building efficiently and sustainably.

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