If you manage properties in the Atlanta market, you may have noticed a push for existing buildings to become LEED certified. There are several reasons to get your building LEED certified that all make good business sense:
- It’s the socially responsible thing to do
- Tenants are looking for it
- It can help you differentiate your property and allow you to increase rents
- Improvements will cut operation costs that will affect your bottom line over time
Getting your building certified under LEED for Existing Buildings and Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) is no simple task. It’s a commitment that involves not only capital improvements but also a fundamental change in your daily operations.
Let’s assume that you’ve already decided to get your existing building LEED certified. It takes a minimum of 40 points to get your building certified under LEED EBOM — and your landscape contractor can help you achieve 15 of them.
To be fair, not every landscaper is up to the task. You landscaper will need to know plenty about landscape architecture and implementation, as well as the LEED process and documentation. (Working with a landscape contractor that offers in-house landscape architecture services, such as HighGrove Partners, is your ideal partner in this endeavor.)
Got a landscape contractor who can handle this? Here’s a look at the points they can help you with — and some strategies to earn them.
SS Credit 2: Building Exterior and Hardscape Management Plan (1 Point)
This is a pretty easy credit to earn; it’s low-hanging fruit. To earn this credit you simply have to create a written plan of environmentally friendly ways to maintain your building’s exterior. For example, you may specify the type of ice melt you use for snow and ice removal, or chemicals you can use to clean your hardscapes.
SS Credit 3: Integrated Pest Management, Erosion Control and Landscape Management Plan (1 Point)
This credit is similar to SS Credit 2. You must have a written plan detailing your pest, site erosion, and landscape management. This may include details of onsite green waste facilities or a reduced chemical approach to insects and weeds. (Warning: Sustainable landscape management can result in more weeds in your landscape.)
SS Credit 5: Site Development — Protect or Restore Open Habitat (1 Point)
Strategies to earn this credit may be as simple as properly documenting native or adaptive green space you already have; converting sod and non-natives to approved green space; replacing hardscapes with approved green space; or setting aside green space offsite.
SS Credit 6: Stormwater Quantity Control (1 Point)
This credit can be earned by including any number of cisterns, bioswales or other strategies to keep rainwater on your site. Water harvested by earning this credit can be used to earn points in other credits, too!
SS Credit 7.1: Heat Island Reduction — Nonroof (1 Point)
To earn this credit you have to decrease the heat your hardscapes and parking lot radiate back. A simple way to do this is by planting trees, but there are plenty of other strategies, too.
SS Credit 7.2: Heat Island Reduction — Roof (1 Point)
This credit is similar to SS Credit 7.1, but you are reducing the heat radiated back from your roof. A great way to do this is by installing a green roof system or rooftop garden. But keep in mind that this can be a costly improvement — and not all buildings can support the additional weight.
WE Credit 1: Water Performance Measurement (1–2 points)
This credit can be earned by metering your potable water use, both indoors and for irrigation. Earn two points by measuring multiple systems.
WE Credit 3: Water Efficient Landscaping (1–5 Points)
The goal of this credit is to reduce how much potable and natural body water you use. This means eliminating city water use as well as water sourced from wells and stream-fed ponds.
Strategies may include improved irrigation systems (like HighGrove’s KnowWater irrigation improvements), cisterns, modifying your landscape to decrease water needs, and eliminating irrigation on established landscape material.
WE Credits 4.1–4.2: Cooling Tower Water Management (1 Point)
To earn this credit, you might use harvested water from a cistern for your cooling tower makeup.
IO Credit 2: LEED® Accredited Professional (1 Point)
Finally, you can earn a point just by having a LEED Accredited Professional on your team.
Ready to Get LEED Certified?
Hopefully after reviewing the credits your landscaper can help you earn, you can take away some ideas to implement at your property. These strategies are just a brief list and not every credit makes sense to pursue depending on cost and feasibility. The best thing to do is get your landscaper involved early on in the process, so they can help you identify which strategies are the best fit for you.
Looking for a landscape contractor equipped to guide you through part of the LEED certification process? Call HighGrove Partners at 678-298-0550, or use the contact form to the right for us to get in touch. Subscribe to our blog for more helpful resources!
This post was written by Sam Sampson, HighGrove’s land services manager.