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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

08/01/2013

A simplified path to LEED®:EB- O&M success

 

This article is sponsored by Unisource. Visit their website.

Corporate social responsibility has come a long way. At its inception, corporate efforts centered around a risk-based compliance where corporate leaders were simply trying to “do the right thing.” Nowadays, we find a complex discipline where the notions of triple bottom line, full disclosure and transparency are top of mind to the wide array of a company’s stakeholders: from investors, to employees, to local communities and, of course, customers. A strong corporate social responsibility program can now be seen as a competitive advantage in markets where the competition is fierce.

At the start, green buildings were meant to answer the call of energy savings and resource efficiency, and have evolved to incorporate the notion of Triple Bottom Line where emphasis has shifted from planet to people and profits. Green buildings must now deliver strong economic indicators such as ROI, as well as other social priorities such as employee health and productivity.

Studies around the world confirm that green buildings can attract tenants more easily and command higher rents and tenant longevity. In some markets, where certified buildings are readily available, the notion of brown discounts – where buildings that are not certified may rent or sell for less – is starting to emerge.

An often overlooked part of the LEED® certification process is the green cleaning perspective. Under the LEED®:EB-O&M certification, green cleaning is a program put in place in order to reduce waste, increase efficiencies and make the indoor environment of a building healthier for occupants. This program requires that certain protocols be followed and that certain certified products be used.

A green cleaning program can bring a high return on investment by being relatively easy to implement and requiring minimal variable investments – compared to some other credits requiring high fixed capital investments. What’s more, Property Owners, Building Managers and tenants are starting to take a closer look at green cleaning as they realize the importance of providing a healthy indoor environment to their employees.

As a LEED® certification consultant, you’re striving to make a difference for your customers. Benchmarks for certification are moving upward, and standards in the industry are moving to Gold-level certification. You’re also under pressure to find solutions that are affordable, yet do not require additional costs or complexities when it comes to implementation.

This white paper lays out the business case for green cleaning credits and provides insights and industry facts for the LEED® consultant as well as a detailed action plan to take your customers to the next level. It also outlines how working with a knowledgeable partner from the start can bring additional value to the process, and the best way to go about qualifying for those additional green cleaning certification points.

You will also discover how your customers could earn up to 15 points towards LEED®:EB-O&M certification. Most of the points will fall under Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) standards, while others fall under Water Efficiency or Materials & Resources.

Key Fact and Figures Building the Case

In a recent Ernst & Young survey (in cooperation with Greenbiz Group), 74% of respondents indicated that cost-cutting was the principal driver of their company’s sustainability agenda, followed closely by stakeholder’s expectations (68%), managing risks (61%) and revenue generation (56%)1.

When it comes to sustainability (specifically in terms of return on investment) it seems that the paybacks generated by energy efficiency upgrades are meeting the required rates of return.

Furthermore, with regards to LEED® certification, the benefits seem high enough that meeting that ROI faster seems less of an imperative. 67% of the survey respondents indicated that sustainability projects must meet the same payback requirements as other projects, while 20% said that the payback can take longer. Only 13% said that sustainability projects must have shorter paybacks.


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