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Green Buildings - They Aren't For Just New Construction Anymore

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July 18, 2008

Green buildings, energy savings and sustainable designs continue to be the hottest topics in the real estate and building industries. But if you own, manage or invest in existing buildings, do you sometimes wonder how to take advantage of this dramatic movement? If so, there is good news.

The US Green Building Council recently released its latest (January 2008) certification update for existing buildings. For a number of years now, the council’s increasingly adopted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system has been available in versions that apply to New Construction, Core and Shell construction and Commercial Interiors. The updated program for Existing Buildings applies specifically to the operations and maintenance of those buildings. So what does that mean?

The USGBC defines the Existing Buildings rating program as a “set of voluntary performance standards for the sustainable ongoing operation of buildings not undergoing major renovations.” Essentially, the system provides sustainability guidelines for building operations, system upgrades, space-use changes and building processes.

In other words, this particular version of LEED addresses all of the day-to-day operations and management issues of a building. It is not dependent on design and construction or renovation work. That means any building can pursue certification anytime because many of the criteria can be met by establishing and carrying out policies and procedures that don’t necessarily require capital improvements.

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Peter J. Arsenault, AIA, NCARB, LEED-AP is an architect and Senior Sustainability Consultant with Stantec in the Rochester, NY office. Peter has nearly 30 years of experience in the design, planning and construction of buildings and communities of many different types and styles. A 1977 graduate of Syracuse University, he earned degrees in both architecture and sociology with an emphasis on urban design and environmental planning. Since 1980, even before the term green architecture was popularized, he has focused his work on the principles of energy consciousness, environmental sensibility and sustainable design. Mr. Arsenault has served clients throughout the Northeastern United States including large and small U.S. corporations, Federal and State government agencies, not-for-profit associations and private individuals. His innovative work includes research and design of energy-efficient, livable buildings and systems using measures such as passive solar design, natural daylighting, ventilation and building envelope techniques.

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