Often, when schools and universities think about the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its LEED Rating System, they think only about the flagship standard for New Construction (LEED-NC) or the new standard for school construction (LEED for Schools).
However, another important tool for schools and universities is LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Rating System, or LEED-EB. This standard provides a roadmap to improve the operations and maintenance in all existing buildings, which are likely to have a much greater impact than a new construction project financially and environmentally.
LEED-EB is an excellent tool to help a school or university reduce its energy consumption, water consumption and solid-waste disposal — all of which save money.
The guidelines can lead to more efficient practices and create better spaces for learning, more marketability and other intangible benefits.
A recent revision of LEED-EB focused on a number of changes: making the rating system easier to use; reducing reporting requirements; and clarifying language.
Some specific changes are an increase in Energy Star requirements because of increasing concerns about the contribution that energy production has on climate change and an increase in the incentives (number of points) for water conservation.
Also, green cleaning is a prerequisite in the new version. This means that all buildings seeking LEED-EB certification must have a green cleaning policy.
Education institutions can earn up to two LEED points for conducting APPA's “custodial effectiveness audit,” which for the first time will reward buildings that have superior cleaning programs.
Some other significant changes:
Clarifying that green cleaning requires effective and systematic cleaning, as opposed to just switching to a few green products.
Adding standards from Environmental Choice as an additional option to Green Seal for “certified” cleaning chemicals.
Reorganizing the green cleaning credits into one section.
Including language that requires the development of a strategy to encourage handwashing, including the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Clarifying language on powered janitorial equipment, and adding some additional language for “certified” equipment, such as vacuums and carpet extractors.
Adding language that allows janitorial paper products to be made from rapidly renewable resources (i.e. bamboo) or from tree-free fibers (i.e. straw or wheat grass), in addition to those made with recycled tree fibers.
The new LEED-EB will have lasting impacts at schools and universities across the country.