LEED, the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most globally recognised green-building certification programme.
Office tenants increasingly prefer LEED-certified buildings, especially if they have a policy to undertake LEED-certified interior fit-outs, which more companies are doing.
Multinational companies such as Citibank, Unilever and L’Oreal have all completed LEED fit-outs in their Bangkok offices, and all new Starbucks retail branches will have LEED-certified interiors.
Thai companies have also undertaken LEED-certified fit-outs, and Kasikornbank achieved LEED CI v2.0 Gold certification in 2011 for its Phaholyothin headquaters project.
People are most familiar with LEED for New Construction or Core and Shell certification applying to new building projects, the latter intended for buildings that will be rented to multiple tenants who will conduct their own interior fit-out.
A number of office buildings with LEED Core and Shell certification already exist in Bangkok. Park Ventures and Energy Complex have achieved LEED Platinum status, and Sathorn Square and the recently completed AIA Capital Centre have both secured LEED Gold certification.
In 2009, Shanghai had one LEED-certified office building, and today it has more than 45. Bangkok is following a similar pattern, with the majority of new grade-A buildings seeking at least LEED Gold status.
It is now clearly recognised that obtaining LEED certification for new buildings gives developers a competitive advantage in securing tenants, but this does not mean that old buildings can no longer compete.
There is a LEED certification called Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, also known as LEED EB:OM.
This is in many ways a better guarantee for tenants of ongoing quality. Whereas a new building gets its certification for Core and Shell – largely based on designed, or modelled performance – EB:OM buildings must demonstrate minimum levels of actual performance to become certified, and must recertify at least every five years.
This is a process that ensures LEED EB:OM buildings not only continue to deliver, but also improve on their performance as they recertify using newer versions of the LEED system.
EB:OM covers a number of areas that have direct tangible benefits to tenants in terms of quality of the environment, such as air quality, making it easier to achieve LEED certification for fit-outs.
Older buildings can get LEED EB:OM certification that will give them a competitive advantage in securing tenants and generally will not drive significant capital expenditure on building upgrades, in the experience of the 345 buildings that CBRE has certified with LEED EB:OM globally.
Existing buildings do not need to become obsolete but are sometimes run in an inefficient way, and the LEED process helps building owners run their buildings more efficiently and prove performance to prospective tenants.
For example, one requirement is to establish an ongoing commissioning process that includes planning, point monitoring, system-testing performance verification, corrective-action response, ongoing measurement and documentation to proactively address weaknesses.
One of the advantages for both landlords and tenants is that this is not a one-off certification, but is continually reassessed to ensure ongoing quality.
Key features needed to obtain LEED EB:OM status are water management and energy performance.
CBRE has coordinated the certification of 345 EB:OM projects worldwide and is currently appointed as the LEED consultant advising the landlord of Taipei 101 – one of Asia’s tallest buildings – on obtaining EB:OM certification.
CBRE believes that landlords of existing office buildings who want to be able to compete with new office buildings will have to look at LEED EB:OM certification in order to continue being able to attract tenants.