Are you wondering ‘Which LEED exam is the best fit for me?’ The LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings rating system is unlike any other LEED green building program because it focuses exclusively on existing buildings operations. No architects or general contractors are required – although sometimes they get involved. Therefore, professionals in those fields typically do not pursue LEED AP O+M. The LEED AP O+M professional credential is based on the Existing Buildings rating system.
Who pursues the LEED AP O+M?
The obvious candidates for the LEED AP O+M exam are Property Managers, Facility Managers, Building Engineers, and Sustainability Consultants. The Existing Buildings rating system is the most consultant-dependent rating system because it requires detailed cross-disciplinary coordination. It is practically a full time job to manage a LEED O+M application. Therefore, it is essential to hire a consultant with relevant credentials. Among all LEED projects, existing building projects have the largest project teams because every occupant in the building is a stakeholder, and they are already present – unlike new construction.
More often than not, one LEED AP per team is not a strong enough influence to ensure a smooth path to LEED certification. If your goal is LEED Gold or LEED Platinum, it helps to have the entire leadership team all educated and credentialed. In addition, a few key occupant stakeholders can become the greatest assets to LEED O+M project success, and could be encouraged to pursue the LEED AP O+M credential.
A few lucky individuals have a full time job managing the sustainability metrics for existing building portfolios. People with titles like Chief Sustainability Officer or Director of Sustainability for small and large companies need to know what comes in and out of their control boundaries – it always includes the buildings operations and occupant’s habits. Since this is an emerging field, there are not yet widely available education paths for sustainability related roles at the executive level. There is, however, one common stepping stone: the LEED AP O+M. For a young person, this credential is a great start to build exposure. For a seasoned pro, it is a feather in your cap.
Existing Building Vendors
Another growing audience who should be studying for the LEED AP O+M exam are the service providers who visit and maintain existing buildings on a regular basis. The list of vendors and service providers is long. For example, landscapers need to know which weed killer is not LEED compliant, and that they should be upgrading their equipment regularly for fewer emissions and noise. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a complex and ongoing process, and the industry does not regulate itself. So who can you trust? Look for the LEED AP O+M credential from your pest management service provider. Even window washers can make or break the exterior management credit by using non-compliant cleaning products.
LEED Professionals on staff
One service industry that is winning big in the green building maintenance game is the janitorial sector. Kudos to all the men and women on the ground performing quality assurance walks, diluting chemicals, and stocking recycled paper products. Deep in the guts of the building, cooling tower maintenance professionals are also keeping up with sustainability trends and credentials. Anyone who manages a building needs to keep their staff informed. Every individual whom wields a hammer for building maintenance, or has purchasing power for building operations should consider the LEED AP O+M credential. It’s the small daily actions and habits that build a comprehensive LEED project application. When it comes time to certify or re-certify, having a staff full of LEED professionals will make the job easier.
Even if you manage a building, but don’t pursue LEED certification, you can still integrate the low hanging fruit of green operations and maintenance by contracting with LEED accredited professionals. Repairs and replacements occur frequently enough that it makes sense to begin aligning with LEED O+M principles. Every HVAC technician, commissioning agent, and testing personnel should have the LEED AP O+M credential before they begin work on your building. The energy systems in a building require the most synergistic relationships and benefit the most from well-educated service engineers. Finally, the top stakeholders must also be acknowledged as worthy candidates for the LEED AP O+M exam. Decisions like when to buy or sell an asset can be better informed with a deeper understanding of the long term value of sustainable buildings.
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