Going for Green Certification? 7 Ways to Get There
Going “green” remains a key concern in both new construction and building renovation. Green certification is a significant step that allows an independent outside source to evaluate your building’s characteristics and determine if it meets established standards for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As you consider the merits of green certification for your new or remodeled building, keep in mind the following seven factors.
- Know why you want to be certified: Green certification can be a complex and costly process, so it’s best to recognize why you want this certification before pursuing it. Some building owners have a genuine desire to conserve energy and promote the welfare of the environment. In other cases, an interest in reducing utility costs or operations and maintenance expenses is a major driver. Green certification may provide a convenient way to meet state or local efficiency standards, or it could be a means to qualify for tax credits or other incentives. It could also serve as a major marketing feature designed to give you a competitive advantage in attracting building tenants with an interest in environmental issues. Any one or combination of these could be the main reason you want green certification, but knowing your reasons beforehand lets you and your certification agency focus on what you really want.
- Carefully choose your certification program: With your goals in mind, carefully evaluate the many green certification organizations and choose which one will provide the best value and service for you. Energy Star, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and Earth Advantage Commercial are just a few of the available choices. Contact a certification agency or check its website to find out what’s offered and what standards will be met. Know how complex the certification process will be, its costs and its benefits before beginning.
- Evaluate your building’s current condition: If renovating an existing structure, take the time to assess its green characteristics before moving toward certification. Find out what energy-efficiency features already have been installed. Have water, waste and energy audits performed to get useful data about these important areas. Document maintenance policies and what steps are taken regularly to reduce energy use and improve overall function.
- Don’t ignore the small steps: Large-scale environmental features will attract attention and interest in your building, but smaller, more creative steps will be extremely beneficial in reducing energy use and costs. Establish policies for areas such as lighting, HVAC use, cleaning and day-to-day supply purchases. Recycle or reuse materials where possible. Consider dual certifications to get the best of two programs.
- Find and resolve inefficiencies in your operations and management processes: O&M accounts for a significant portion of ongoing expenses in your commercial facility. Reducing waste and inefficiency in this necessary component will automatically cut your costs and improve your green factors. Establish standard operating procedures and preventive maintenance policies designed to improve energy efficiency and equipment performance. Regularly evaluate the purchasing process for building supplies and equipment and identify any areas where reductions or savings can be achieved.
- Track and manage costs: Know how much green certification is going to cost you in all relevant areas, including construction labor costs, the price of supplies and equipment, and the certification itself. Determine the point where you will recover all of your expenses through energy savings and do everything possible to reach that point sooner.
- Work toward continuous improvement and sustainability: Once you have achieved green certification and put all your policies in place, review your standards and practices on a regular basis. Certification means little and provides limited benefits if you and your tenants, colleagues and visitors don’t practice established green procedures diligently and consistently.
At Sobieski, our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information about green certification and what it means for your building, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!