Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Regional Study of Green Buildings First of Its Kind to Study Post Occupancy
Results of LEED Buildings in Illinois

CHICAGO, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Illinois has been an early leader
in green building construction, currently ranking sixth in the number of
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings built, with the
City of Chicago itself having more LEED(R) certified buildings than any other
city in the country. This leadership continues with release of a report from
the U.S. Green Building Council - Chicago Chapter (USGBC - Chicago) that
provides a first look at post-occupancy performance of LEED buildings on a
local scale.

The Regional Green Building Case Study Project: a Post-Occupancy Study of LEED
Projects in Illinois report summarizes the first year of a multi-year study to
analyze the post-occupancy benefits of 25 LEED(R) certified projects in
Illinois related to: energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use,
construction and operating costs, cost of building green, health and
productivity impacts, and occupant comfort. The study was funded by the Grand
Victoria Foundation and is a collaborative endeavor between the USGBC?Chicago,
U.S. EPA Region 5, the City of Chicago, Delta Institute, and the Center for
Neighborhood Technology, which was the lead researcher for the project.

The study found that sustainability does not stop with building design and
construction. While a building may be
designed to be sustainable, it is often ongoing operational issues that affect
the amount of energy, water, and other resources it consumes. Accordingly,
ongoing performance evaluation is a key component of long-term sustainability.

"Sustainability must be integrated into ongoing operations and maintenance
practices," says Kathy Tholin, CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology,
whose Chicago LEED Platinum building was a part of the study. "Constructing to
LEED(R) Platinum was a natural choice given CNT's long-standing commitment to
sustainable development," explains Tholin. "But our job is far from complete.
Now that we're utilizing the space, sustainability means focusing on ongoing
operations and maintenance. We're striving for continuous improvement."

The U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted
benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance
green buildings. LEED provides a roadmap for measuring and documenting success
for every building type and phase of a building lifecycle.

Doug Widener, Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council - Chicago
Chapter emphasizes that "with an understanding of operational issues, tenant
behavior, and maintenance practices, building owners and managers can
implement ongoing changes that lead to increased building performance and
sustainability over time." Mr. Widener adds that "this report is an important
step towards achieving our mission of leading the regional transformation of
the built environment to become ecologically sustainable, profitable, and

The report compliments the U.S. Green Building Council's recently launched
Building Performance Initiative. Beginning this fall, it will analyze energy
and other resource use data from LEED buildings and provide this data back to
building owners to allow for ongoing sustainability improvements over time. 

The study also found that resource use varies in LEED buildings. Many
participating projects performed better than conventional commercial interiors
and buildings, with projects that focused on energy conservation as a part of
their LEED strategy performing better in relation to energy use and
conservation than projects that focused on other areas of sustainability.
Given that LEED is a multifaceted system that rates a building's
sustainability on a variety of factors (including site, water efficiency,
energy efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality),
projects that focused on energy conservation performed better in this area
than projects that did not. All buildings in the first year of the study were
certified under older versions of LEED. Newer versions of the rating system
mandate, as well as incent, higher levels of energy efficiency. 

The results of occupant comfort in surveyed projects were very high,
especially related to indoor air quality and lighting. The study also found
that construction costs varied greatly, as do construction costs of
conventional buildings, and that these are largely driven by programmatic
issues. The average premium reported for building green was 3.8 percent; in
line with the national average.

For the second year of the study, 25 additional Illinois LEED projects will be
added to its sample for a total of 50. "We are excited by this initial year of
the study, but are even more excited for the second year when we will add
buildings certified under newer versions of LEED to see if these newer LEED
buildings perform better," notes Widener. "We are also collecting a second
year of data for our first year projects. It will be interesting to see if
operational changes made as a result of the study will result in improved
efficiencies in these buildings."

For the full report and case studies please visit the Chapter web site at:

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