When TAIPEI 101 achieved LEED Platinum certification as an existing building in 2011, they knew it was the beginning of a new leadership role, a new relationship with their tenants, and a new definition of standard practice. For an existing building, green isn’t just an adjective used to describe a noun in a single point in time; green is a verb, reflecting continuous action to maintain and improve the environmental performance of the building and how it’s operated. For LEED O+M, this is ensured by a five-year recertification requirement with an ongoing performance period for prerequisites and credits from one certification to the next. This requirement verifies the progress of sustainability goals and ensures green practices are being properly implemented after initial certification.
The TAIPEI 101 management team understood this and took steps to standardize and augment ongoing green practices established during their initial certification, which would help to facilitate the eventual recertification process. Although the requirement for LEED O+M recertification is at least every 5 years, the planning for recertification needs to begin much earlier, with a critical documentation threshold starting 25% before the end of the ongoing performance period. TAIPEI 101 engaged CBRE to advise them on this process early, with LEED v4 recertification preparations formally beginning in August 2014 (nearly two years before the five-year deadline).
CBRE started by performing an assessment of TAIPEI 101’s current green practices to determine the level of ongoing performance and documentation since the original LEED certification. Fortunately, because of the importance placed on setting new business-as-usual standards, the TAIPEI 101 property management and engineering teams had been doing an excellent job at maintaining the LEED 2009 requirements.
“Our team has worked very hard to maintain, improve upon, and document our green building operations and maintenance practices since the first certification,” said Alex Chen, Director of Property Management for TAIPEI 101. “We did this, not just to help with our LEED recertification efforts five years later, but because being the best is part of our company culture and we constantly strive to provide the highest quality working environment to our tenants, that’s healthy and good for the environment.”
It would have been relatively straight forward to recertify the building using LEED for Existing Buildings LEED 2009 again, which is still an option at the time of writing, and retain TAIPEI 101’s Platinum rating.
“When we first visited the building, we were incredibly impressed by how organized and committed the TAIPEI 101 team was to maintaining their LEED certification, in particular in the areas of energy management and recycling,” said Christopher Davis, CBRE LEED consultant.
However, in evaluating recertification options, CBRE identified the opportunity to upgrade TAIPEI 101 to the LEED O+M v4 system. After discussing the potential implications, TAIPEI 101 quickly decided to opt for the upgrade, and set the challenge to not only receive certification, but return their prestigious Platinum status.
The next step was to kick-off the process of upgrading to LEED v4. This involved reviewing policies and plans, updating credits that have no or only minor changes, and discussing the potential for achieving new or significantly revised credits (e.g. the Demand Response or Daylight and Quality Views credits, which will be explored in future articles).
From their perspective, the commitment to hold TAIPEI 101 to new, more stringent benchmarks of sustainability was an easy one to make. The company has always made the pursuit of leadership, innovation, environmental responsibility, and provision of world class work space to its tenants as part of its core business philosophy.
Since demonstrating what could be achieved in greening an existing supertall building in 2011, TAIPEI 101 opened the way for many of its peers to follow suit. In pursuing LEED v4, they are again pushing the boundaries of what is possible in a way that will inevitably influence the estate industry again, and promote concepts of sustainability in Taiwan.
There are tangible business benefits for TAIPEI 101 in pursuing LEED v4. A number of competitor buildings within the central business district have now also achieved, or are also pursuing LEED certification, all using v2009. Becoming LEED O+M v4 Platinum certified will again differentiate TAIPEI 101 in an increasingly competitive marketplace, where more buildings are gaining LEED certification and more tenants are seeking green buildings to lease space in and demanding performance that supports their corporate responsibility policies. It’s not just an issue of reputation though; the new LEED v4 certification potentially makes it easier for tenants to certify new interior fit outs as LEED ID+C v4.
“LEED O+M recertification is an excellent opportunity to review sustainability programs and goals, which is particularly important in the context of a rapidly evolving landscape of green building standards, competitor achievement, and stakeholder expectations. Not only does it give building teams an opportunity to evaluate new initiatives, but it also provides new tools to demonstrate actual performance levels in step with new iterations of LEED to a level of detail and independently verified rigor that BD+C certified buildings can’t match over time,” said Tim Shen, CBRE Head of Sustainability for Asia.
LEED at its best is an ongoing commitment, not just a one-time accomplishment, and those who recognize this are the leaders of the next phase of the green building movement. TAIPEI 101 is one of these leaders and is setting an example for others to learn from.