SEATTLE — This January, Seattle-based Kennedy Associates, an institutional investment advisor, completed sustainable enhancements, including upgrades to HVAC and plumbing systems, to 28 buildings in the U.S., becoming the first institutional investment advisor to receive U.S. Green Building Council LEED pre-certification for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance through a volume pilot program. Kennedy Associates is the second company to be awarded U.S.GBC LEED pre-certification.
In 2007, Kennedy Associates agreed to participate in the U.S.GBC LEED EB: O&M volume pilot program, and Kennedy has been actively working to achieve program pre-certification since the latter portion of 2008.
The 28 buildings, the first group of properties receiving LEED pre-certification in the pilot program, totaling approximately 6 million square feet of property and owned by Kennedy-advised, Multi-Employer Property Trust, are slated to achieve different levels of final LEED certification by mid-2010.
According to the U.S.GBC, in the U.S., buildings account for 72% of electricity consumption, 39% of energy use and 14% of potable water consumption. Thus, energy and water conservation play an important role in the LEED volume pilot program.
"Building operations are nearly 40% of the solution to the global climate change challenge," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S.GBC. "Kennedy Associates demonstrates exemplary leadership by showing the business world how building green, throughout an entire organization, can be possible and profitable."
To obtain LEED EB: O&M volume pre-certification, building fixtures and fittings must meet the Uniform Plumbing Code and the International Plumbing Code 2006 performance requirements, and LEED points are given for achieving increased levels of water efficiency. Buildings’ baselines are adjusted depending on the age of each property.
“Every building that needed some form of retrofit to pursue LEED EB: O&M certification in our program (approximately 60% of our first group of buildings) has already completed the respective retrofit, which varied from simply installing aerators to fully replacing toilets,” said Christian Gunter, assistant vice president of Kennedy Associates.
According to Gunter, Kennedy Associates targeted 20% greater water efficiency for the buildings in the LEED volume pilot program.
Buildings must also demonstrate 19% greater energy efficiency than the national average, with an Energy Star rating of 69 or greater. LEED points are given, based on HVAC systems operations and management best practices, such asincreased ventilation, reduction of particulates in the air and sub-metering, among other systems operations. Plus, HVACR systems cannot use CFC based refrigerants unless a conversion to non-CFC based refrigerants is economically unfeasible.
“This is a pilot program, so this has never been done before,” said Gunter. “The volume-certification process allows Kennedy Associates to secure a number of points across the portfolio, then, each site is scored individually in terms of the criteria based on location, site, performance and tenant preferences.”
According to Gunter, it is anticipated that three buildings, located in San Francisco, Denver and Chicago, all in the LEED volume pilot program, will received U.S.GBC LEED Gold status.
“Given Kennedy’s extensive experience achieving LEED certification for new development cost-effectively, and ongoing focus on promoting high-performance property operations, pursuing LEED EB: O&M certification made perfect sense,” said Gunter. “Kennedy also determined there was value in using economies of scale and portfolio-wide efficiencies to certify multiple buildings at one time, versus certifying each individually on a one-off basis.”
Kennedy Associates implemented required energy audits and systems testing; conducted retrofits, if required; and created and refined technical toolkits to meet LEED volume pre-certification program requirements while meeting unique needs of various properties, and their property management and engineering teams.
Since earning LEED volume pre-certification was a complex process, Green Building Services Inc., Portland, Ore., a sustainable development consulting firm, created a prototype for Kennedy Associates, containing assessment and quality control measures.
“Kennedy Associates’ actions exemplify a highly sophisticated response to effecting real change,” said Elaine Aye, principal at Green Building Services. “By taking a macro-level approach, the firm’s efforts benefit their clients, the environment and help to make the case for the value of integrating sustainability within commercial real estate industry nationwide.”
Kennedy Associates plans to use its streamlined LEED volume pre-certification program as a means to implement, verify and document property operations on a continual basis, and is committed to certifying and recertifying future portfolios of existing buildings and new acquisitions.