LEED and BREEAM for existing buildings

The first BREEAM certificate for a new office building in Poland was awarded in 2009. Since then, LEED and BREEAM systems of multi-criteria assessment of buildings have become an integral part of the requirements for class-A office buildings. Although new certified buildings are added every year to the available office and commercial spaces, the market is still dominated by existing buildings, which also try to conform to the ever increasing requirements of the tenants.

The applicable law and building certification systems impose increasingly stringent requirements relating to energy efficiency for new structures. Thus, it may seem that a new building will always be more energy-efficient than an existing building. However, construction of a green building is only half the equation – the other half is effective management, which can make even an older building efficient and economical.

LEED and BREEAM certificates

The sector of existing buildings on the Polish market is dominated by certificates under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) and BREEAM In-Use International. The difference between these certificates lies in the method of certification, duration and costs. However, their most important common feature is the assessment of the actual parameters describing the functioning of the structure based on the actual utility consumption, quantities of generated waste, plans and policies of building maintenance or conducted audits and analyses. Naturally, not every existing building will be capable of achieving the performance required for new projects. However, if suitable measures are taken, virtually every building is capable of providing tangible energy savings and receiving a LEED or BREEAM certificate for existing buildings, which is an actual added value for the owner and tenant.

First steps on the way to successful certification

The first step required to reduce the operating costs of the building is the acquisition of data about its functioning, e.g., utility consumption, number of users, actual use of the premises, coolants or current temperature and air volume settings. With such information, it is possible to monitor the trends and compare them to the results from previous years. In order for data acquisition to be successful, it is critical to ensure that the data have a consistent format over time so that they are comparable. There are many free tools for the analysis of such data, e.g., Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which make the analysis and normalization of the calculations considerably easier by considering the impact of weather or number of users on the functioning of the building.

Once the data are collected, the next step is to develop a certification strategy where the LEED or BREEAM certification specialist will cooperate with the building management team and the owner to analyze the strong and weak points of the building, determine the extent to which it conforms to the requirements of the selected certification system and identify the measures which can be taken to improve the functioning of the building. This can be done under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance or BREEAM In-Use International systems to enable the use of recognized international standards with suitable reliability and reputation.

Once the analysis is complete, it is time to implement the strategy and achieve the specified objectives. The purpose of certification may be not only to achieve a specific certificate rating (e.g., “LEED Platinum” or “BREEAM Excellent”) but also to reduce energy consumption, improve the quality of the indoor environment or reduce operating costs.
Contact us for more specific information about the certification of existing buildings.

Jerzy Wójcik

The Green360° blog has been created to provide educational content and aid the development of the industry of certified sustainable construction. Green360° is the publishing part of JW+A.

Green360° will contain practical information and studies relating to LEED and BREEAM certification and facts from the commercial real estate market.

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