It’s a tremendous accomplishment for a building to receive LEED for New Construction certification. But increasingly, buildings that were designed and constructed to LEED standards are proving their operating performance by certifying using LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (EB:O&M). Any building of any age can certify under EB:O&M, but it can be used as soon as one year after occupancy to prove the post-occupancy performance of a new LEED building.
After all, a LEED certification for design and construction is just that — by definition it doesn’t cover the future operations of the building. A new LEED building is set up to perform at a very high level, but much can change once the occupants move in and the property management team takes over. A reasonable analogy could be that of a high gas mileage vehicle that performs poorly due to the operator idling it unnecessarily or performing other operations that make it inefficient. In the end, it’s the actual performance that matters — both financially and environmentally.
I recently had the opportunity to celebrate an example of such ongoing building performance leadership with HSBC and Jones Lang LaSalle. The HSBC Tower in Mexico City was originally built and certified LEED Gold in 2007. Five years later, the team accomplished an even more impressive certification: LEED Platinum in EB:O&M.
The HSBC Tower features a number of sustainability features built in from its original design, including a green roof, on-site wastewater treatment and an open office design that allows for daylighting and views from a high proportion of workspaces. The building’s operating performance includes strong use of alternative transportation (50 percent), an impressive ENERGY STAR equivalent score of 92, savings of 174.7 m3/month of potable water in cooling towers and irrigation practices and waste diversion of 59.97 percent.
HSBC Tower in Mexico is one of many leadership examples for this company. HSBC has also certified buildings in Egypt, India, Argentina, Bermuda and elsewhere throughout the world. Furthermore, HSBC Mexico is looking to build on the success of HSBC Tower and extend its green operations practices to its extensive bank branch network in Mexico. The first of these, Patriotismo, was certified LEED Gold in November 2012 and is the first of a volume certification program for the bank. HSBC is one of a number of companies leading the green building movement in Mexico — currently there are 41 certifications (600,000 square meters) and 281 registrations (7.4 million square meters) in the country.
Marc Heisterkamp is the Director of Strategic Accounts at the U.S. Green Building Council.