Green Living

A Syndicated Column By Waste Management

Why Property Owners and Managers Pursue LEED EBOM Certification

There is a reason that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for 'Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance' (EBOM) is the fastest growing segment in U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system: it makes good business sense.

In California, the number of LEED EBOM registered projects has jumped over 300 percent since 2008 (Source: Since the beginning of the year, Waste Management has been working with more than a dozen new LEED EBOM projects in Atlanta; these include commercial buildings ranging from 150 thousand to 1 million square feet.

As companies advance sustainable business practices, they are looking for offices and facilities that support their goals and are increasingly willing to pay more for LEED certified space. A LEED-certified building leases for approximately 2% more per square foot.

Waste Management's own LEED accredited Business Development Manager, Karen Stiles explains:

"Property owners understand that LEED EBOM gives them a competitive edge. Existing buildings with LEED certification attract new tenants, capture 1-5% higher rates per square foot, and generally ensure a higher occupancy rate. Furthermore, implementing LEED EBOM practices often reduces operating costs."

The process for certifying existing buildings differs radically from the system for new construction. For new construction, the LEED checklist focuses on the construction, the mechanical systems, and the materials used in the building. For existing buildings, the attention is on building operations and maintenance, more than the construction itself. In both cases, the certification must be renewed every five years.

The LEED EBOM checklist is readily available from USGBC and covers six primary areas:

• Sustainable Sites – includes credits for the structure itself, the project site and access to public transportation;

• Water Efficiency – includes indoor and outdoor water conservation;

• Energy and Atmosphere – includes energy management assessments, energy metering, and use of renewable energy;

• Materials and Resources – includes a solid waste management and sustainable purchasing policies and implementation of waste management and sustainable purchasing measures for consumables, durable goods, and facilities;

• Indoor Environmental Quality – includes ventilation, thermal control, sustainable cleaning;

• Innovation in Operations – includes novel project planning and technologies.

A property can earn credits for over 33 different categories on the LEED EBOM 2009 checklist. Not all areas need to be addressed, but a property must earn more than 40 points to secure certification and over 80 points to earn platinum level status.

Among the more accessible credits are those related to the management of waste:

"Because waste is an activity over which tenants have significant control, it is often a LEED EBOM option that is tapped," explains Karen. "In addition, properties must meet a minimum set of requirements to secure certification. A solid waste management policy is one of these pre-requisites."

For commercial property owners, there are two primary challenges in managing the LEED process for existing buildings. The first has to do with navigating and planning for initial LEED rating. The second, and perhaps more complex, is the ongoing monitoring and metering of water efficiency, energy usage, and waste diversion that will enable a property to recertify and maintain its LEED status.

Waste Management offers significant support for both the initial and ongoing LEED process. Over 75% of Waste Management's Sustainability Services consultants and business development managers are LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) or LEED Greeen Associates (LEED GA). They can be instrumental in stewarding the initial planning and certification process.

For more information on LEED EBOM certification, contact Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit our website at