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June 9, 2008
The Green Sheet
(our more serious side)

Getting Ready for LEED 2009

USGBC has only just opened the first public comment period on LEED 2009 -- the next evolution of the LEED green building certification system – but developers and brokers are already incorporating some of the initial design concepts into their planning. We have to, says Sean Cahill, VP of development for the Louis Dreyfus Property Group. “There are projects in the pipeline right now that will deliver in 2009 or later.”

Chris Brown, CBRE’s recently appointed head of a new line of LEED consulting services in the project management division, says he will be referring to the proposed changes for a new project that is in the design phase now. That building, he says, will be under development by the time the standards come out and will be developed in accordance to the new principals.

Tenants are about the only stakeholder in this process not yet thinking about the forthcoming standard – but that is expected to change as the public comment periods end. 

None of the tenants that Studley works with is looking at it right now, says

Olivia Millar, director of Sustainability and Workplace Strategies. “I think it will be at least a few months before they can start thinking about it.”

That is understandable – LEED 2009 is still a work in progress. Scot Horst, chairman of the volunteer LEED Steering Committee, which leads the technical development of the LEED rating system at USGBC, gave a general explanation last week in a conference call. A 30,000-foot explanation of LEED 2009, or LEED v.3, is that the changes are filling in structural gaps of the old standards, and are unifying the rating system for the various asset classes -- except LEED for neighborhoods and homes -- which now are in multiple versions. Points for regional issues -- for example, water management is emphasized more in such states as Phoenix -- will also be added.

From what he can tell from this initial round, Brown says, LEED 2009 will have a greater focus on energy and water usage overall, irregardless of the state or region. “Resource use will be of increasing importance to any project. Certainly there was more of an emphasis placed on the overall selection of sites.” In the past, Brown says, the focus tended to be on the indoor environmental quality of the building, “but I think going forward there is definitely going to be more of a focus on selecting locations or buildings that are green or built with green principals.”

“USGBC is definitely raising the bar on its standard,” Cahill says. From an environmental perspective that is probably a good thing. From a cost perspective, though, it will add up, he says.

“I think they are making it more challenging for developers and builders to continue to participate as freely as we have been.”

GVA Advantis   Miller & Long  

Also, he adds, the new emphasis on energy and resource management will have a heavier impact on design practices. For instance, “to meet some of these new energy code requirements you will need a highly insulated building that could preclude you from using a lot of glass.”

There will be two public comment periods this year, after which USGBC will introduce the final version at the end of the year, with a formal launch scheduled for January.

Realshare Green Building Conference

Incorporating new standards into the design process is no easy task and firms less-than-well versed on LEED can easily panic, especially as USGBC routinely comes out with dot version upgrades to their standards, Brenna Walraven, executive managing director at USAA Real Estate and the current CEO of BOMA, said during one of the panel sessions. For instance, USGBC just introduced LEED EB 60 days ago, which USAA is now incorporating into its own processes. The company is also a pilot participant in the portfolio program. Walraven definitely has the industry creds to keep up with these developments, but even she admits, the pace of the upgrades can be hard to manage.

Doug Gatlin, vice president of market development with USGBC, though, reassured the audience that the transition to Leed v. 3 will not be painful—even for buildings currently under development.

“None of the credits have been eliminated, there haven’t been any new credits developed,” he said. The change is in the allocation of the points.

Also seen and heard at the conference:

From Tim Helmig, chief development officer at Monday Properties: It is official. The company’s redevelopment of 1812 N. Moore in Rosslyn is going for LEED Platinum.

Most green benefits for multifamily developments bypass the developer and go straight to the tenants in the form of lower utility costs, according to Aaron Liebert, senior vice president and area managing partner with JPI. The company is conducting studies to see how developers can better benefit. All is not lost though -- lower utility costs resonate with prospective tenants, he said.

Buchanan Partners’ Bowie Corporate Center, a 131,000 SF Gold LEED Core and Shell office in Bowie could not have been developed without tax credit support from Maryland – which has since been discontinued, reported Steve Hubert, partner with the firm.

Short Takes

Southeastern University is using its recently unveiled North Wing to raise funds for further green rehab at the school. According to Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, president of the university, the school’s total renovation bill will come to $12 million to $15 million, which will be spread out in six phases at about $2 million per phase. “Federal and local governments and the private sector have donated to our renovation so far,” she says. “We are hoping the first phase is compelling enough to convince our funders to give again.”

Much of the rehab in phase 1 focused on the needs of the student body – largely part time students that hold full time jobs during the day. “So we wanted to focus on more than just sustainable features like double pane insulated glazing,” James Wood, principal - Perkins+Will, which was involved in the development, explains. “We wanted to focus on improving the quality of life in the building as well.” Emphasizing as much natural light in the rehab was one result of this thinking, he says. “Students who have been sitting in an office all day do not want to sit in an artificially lit class room.”


The BOMA International Conference is being held on June 23 in Denver. A discussion on Green ROI will be held, paneled by Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO, of USGBC, Catherine Greener, vice president of consulting, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ira Magaziner, chairman, Clinton Climate Initiative, Sally Wilson, CBRE’s global director of environmental strategy, and Brenna Walraven, chairman of BOMA International.


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