News Brief

LEED for Existing Buildings Outpacing New Construction

The LEED Platinum Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco is one many existing commercial buildings that are greening their operations and maintenance programs and achieving LEED-EBOM certification.

Photo: Daniel Schwen

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced on December 7, 2011 that, for the first time in its history, the cumulative square footage of buildings certified under its LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) program is greater than LEED-certified new construction. LEED-EBOM certification has risen rapidly since 2008, according to USGBC.

“The U.S. is home to more than 60 billion square feet of existing commercial buildings, and we know that most of those buildings are energy guzzlers and water sieves,” said USGBC president Rick Fedrizzi, noting the importance of the uptake of LEED-EBOM. “Making these existing buildings energy- and water-efficient has an enormous positive impact on the building's cost of operations. And the indoor air quality improvements that go with less toxic cleaning solutions and better filtration create healthier places to live, work, and learn.”

Recent high-profile green retrofits, including the newly LEED-certified Empire State Building in New York (see Empire State Building Achieves LEED Gold for Operations, EBN Oct. 2011), and Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco underscore an industry-wide recognition that greening building operations and maintenance can also lead to greener pocketbooks.

Energy modeling for the LEED Gold Empire State Building retrofit predicts $4.4 million in annual energy cost savings. A co-generation plant at the LEED Platinum Transamerica Pyramid saves about $700,000 annually. Achieving these cost savings is a driving force in the green commercial retrofit market, which analysts expect will more than triple in size by 2015.

Published December 9, 2011

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