I would like to bring closure to this fall’s series of columns on retrocommissioning with a discussion of the LEED® for Existing Buildings’ (LEED EB) prerequisite for existing building commissioning. The USGBC’s LEED program extends beyond capital projects into building operations through its LEED EB certification pro-gram. A building does not need to have been designed and constructed as a LEED-certified project in order to qualify for the LEED EB process.

LEED EB 2.0, the rating system in use since 2004, includes a prerequisite for “existing building commissioning” that involves the following basic steps:
  • Operations plan
  • Test systems against operations plan
  • Correct any deficiencies
  • Retest
  • Document compliance with operations plan
The operations plan is a document very similar to the owner’s project requirements or DID for new construction projects. It defines the owner’s performance criteria and hours of operation for at least the heating system, cooling system, humidity control system, lighting system, safety systems, and the building automation controls.

For most large facility owners, this process of documentation, testing, correction, and retesting is a major un-dertaking that does not easily fit into their current building O&M schedule. As such, this prerequisite is one of the barriers that building owners have run up against when considering LEED EB certification. Because the USGBC wants to encourage building owners to do the right thing and re-think the way they operate their facili-ties, this perceived impractical-to-achieve goal needed to be removed.

The USGBC has revamped the LEED EB system and issued “Version 2008” for review and voting by the USGBC membership. Balloting was due for completion on November 26, and there is no reason to expect that the new program will not be accepted. Along with a number of other credits, the existing building commissioning process has been reworked.

The prerequisite in Version 2008 is now defined as “Energy Efficiency Best Management Practices: Planning, Documentation, and Opportunity Assessment.” It includes the following:
  • Operations plan
  • Systems narrative
  • Sequences of operation
  • PM plan narrative
  • ASHRAE Level I walk-through energy assessment
Although the prerequisite includes validating that the operations plan and PM plan are followed, the primary purpose of the prerequ site is to accurately document the building systems and their current operation. This documentation is intended to serve as the basis for continuous improvement over time.

Building owners will receive credits (points towards a total LEED EB rating) for having or implementing any of the following retrocommissioning steps:
  • Performance measurement (BAS)
  • System level metering
  • Investigation and analysis
  • Implementation of energy conservation opportunities
  • Ongoing commissioning
This is a chronological listing of steps associated with a thorough retrocommissioning (existing building com-missioning) process. A difference between LEED EB 2.0 and Version 2008 is a recognition that the process may take an extended period of time, with a point system designed to reward building owners for each step along the way.

In order to become LEED EB certified at any level (Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum), the only commissioning-related requirement is to develop accurate systems documentation. As progress is made towards greening a building’s operation, the owner can accumulate more points through the existing building commissioning process (and the other elements of the LEED program) and then recertify at a higher level.

In conclusion, for building owners who considered and dismissed the LEED EB 2.0 process, I encourage you to revisit the rating system as defined in Version 2008. For those owners who haven’t yet taken the plunge into the LEED EB process, hold out for the official Version 2008 rollout. This program is one that will really make a difference in sustaining energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building operations into the future. ES