The U.S. Green Building Council(USGBC) recently launched the pilot phase of its newest green building rating system: LEED™ for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB).

The official invitation to participate in the pilot program of the newly developed LEED-EB was sent to more than 2,000 USGBC members and affiliated organizations. The USGBC is seeking to identify 50 projects that will shape LEED-EB by putting the newest green building rating system to the test.

The new product builds on the enormous success of LEED 2.0, which was launched in 2000 to certify the overall environmental performance of new commercial buildings. "The challenge has been to adapt LEED 2.0 for the nearly 250,000 major building-improvement projects that are undertaken every year on existing buildings," states Christine Ervin, president and CEO of the USGBC.

"Given the magnitude of potential economic and environmental benefits, we're eager to get LEED-EB product tested and into the marketplace." Using the blueprint established in LEED 2.0, LEED-EB evaluates "greenness" in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Where this new LEED rating system differs is in its provisions for green standards as they relate to operating, maintaining or converting existing buildings into high performance, sustainable facilities.

While LEED 2.0 applies to new construction or to major renovations that gut a building back to its shell, the LEED-EB rating system applies to existing building operations and system improvements. Michael Arny, co-chair of the LEED for Existing Buildings Committee for the USGBC, adds, "It was important that the USGBC's first rating system should address new building design and construction, because you only get one chance to build a new building right. But with more than 4.5M buildings in the U.S., the operation of existing buildings has a much larger impact on the environment. LEED-EB provides existing building owners and operators with a tool kit for systematically reducing the environmental impacts of their buildings and for maintaining these reductions day after day, year after year."

LEED-EB addresses cleaning and maintenance practices, indoor air quality, energy and water performance, and ongoing monitoring, measurement and management of all building systems. It also offers standards for enhancing programs and supporting facilities for occupant recycling.