Small property owners rejoice! There’s a new sustainable building certification program in the works geared to the small commercial property market. Earth Advantage Institute (EAI) has introduced a third-party certification program for buildings between 10,000 and 70,000 square feet. “The system is complimentary to LEED but much more streamlined, cost-effective and locally appropriate,” says Brian Lynch, program manager.
There are five categories in the Earth Advantage Commercial program: Energy, Health, Water, Materials and Land. Project teams must meet baseline criteria across all categories to earn certification. The energy category was developed in conjunction with Energy Trust of Oregon which is offering cash incentives to projects that implement the package of specified energy-efficiency features.
In partnership with the Energy Trust of Oregon, EAI is currently piloting the program to test and refine its parameters. Property types include office, retail, schools and public assembly with others planned as the pilot ends in December 2011.
Earth Advantage Commercial eliminates the need for energy modeling by including a prescriptive or menu-like approach for energy efficiency. Each measure in the menu has been screened for cost effectiveness and efficacy so project teams know that the measures are good investments for their projects. The program streamlines the documentation and administration process by leveraging procedures already required for other purposes (i.e., code compliance documentation for lighting). Rather than a documentation-based verification process, measures are verified in the field by Earth Advantage staff.
While the program is not yet national, program manager Brian Lynch noted that it will roll out regionally first before heading East. If opportunities arise in markets outside the Pacific Northwest, EAI would change course to accommodate the opportunity.
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