LEED v5 for Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings increases focus on resiliency

In September, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its draft LEED v5 for Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings, the first rating system for the latest version of its certification program. While maintaining its original mission dedicated to advancing energy efficiency and environmental design, USGBC continues to restructure its LEED rating system, focusing on goals including climate action, ecological conservation and restoration and quality of life.

A review of the draft reflects the main categories familiar to most design professionals involved in LEED certification, including location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material resources and indoor environmental quality. However, further analysis discovers an increased focus on carbon emissions (operational, embodied and transportation), health and resilience.

We have previously written on this blog about the importance of resiliency in building systems and its relationship with energy reliability and sustainability, including the expansion of distributed energy resources employing various generation sources, including microgrids. LEED v5 O+M includes two prerequisites and one credit directly related to facility resilience. The prerequisites are strategies that building managers are required to complete to become LEED certified.

The first prerequisite, assessment for climate resilience, has the intent of promoting a comprehensive assessment for climate resilience, addressing risks for site-specific natural hazards associated with weather and/or location. The second prerequisite requires an occupant needs assessment. While this prerequisite has an expanded scope addressing potential health hazards and accessibility issues, it requires an annual evaluation of the impact of extreme weather or changing climate conditions on the indoor environmental health of the building spaces.

In addition to these prerequisites, there is an optional credit offered for operational planning and response for resilience. The intent of this credit is to encourage effective hazard response plans and readiness measures to ensure safety and maintain critical operations during and after emergencies. Compliance with this credit requires developing an emergency response plan, including emergency preparedness training, communication during emergencies, the protection and restoration of critical facilities and backup power for essential systems.

There are several other credits indirectly related to resilience. Under the prerequisite for sustainable sites, beyond the requirement of a site management policy, there are three credits related to rainwater management, heat island reduction and light pollution reduction. Under the prerequisite for energy and atmosphere, there is a credit for grid harmonization, which seeks to reduce stress on the electrical grid from peak loads, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase grid reliability.

Hanson has been actively involved in assisting clients with their energy resiliency and sustainability goals. For example, we recently were the lead consultant for developing the Airport Cooperative Research Program’s new Airport Energy Resiliency Roadmap. To learn more about our efforts, contact Bill Bradford at bbradford@hanson-inc.com or Robert Knoedler at rknoedler@hanson-inc.com.