Green building certifications are a way to recognise buildings that have been designed and constructed in an environmentally-friendly manner. These certifications, such as LEED or BREEAM, assess a building’s energy efficiency, water usage, indoor air quality, and other environmental factors.
Green leases are agreements between landlords and tenants that promote sustainable practices in commercial properties. These leases may include provisions for energy efficiency upgrades, water conservation measures, and recycling programs. They can also include language specifying that the landlord or tenant will bear the cost of certain sustainability-related upgrades or expenses.
In Ireland, there are several certifications schemes for green buildings such as LEED, BREEAM, and HQE. The Building Energy Rating (BER) is a mandatory for all commercial buildings save for some exemptions.
What are certifications, such as LEED or BREEAM?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) are two of the most widely recognised green building certifications. They are both third-party certification programs that assess a building’s environmental performance based on a set of established criteria.
LEED is a certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It evaluates a building’s performance in areas such as energy efficiency, water usage, indoor air quality, and materials selection. Buildings can achieve one of four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
BREEAM is a certification program developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the UK. It evaluates a building’s performance in areas such as energy efficiency, water usage, materials selection, and environmental impact. Buildings can achieve one of five levels of certification: Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, and Outstanding.
Both certifications take into account the entire lifecycle of a building, from design and construction to operation and maintenance, and provide a comprehensive assessment of the environmental performance of a building. In Ireland, both LEED and BREEAM are widely used.
Both certifications are recognised internationally and they are both widely used in different countries, and they are considered as a standard in the industry to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings.
Getting a certification, such as LEED or BREEAM, can be a costly process. The cost will depend on several factors, including the size and complexity of the building, the level of certification sought, and the number of professionals involved.
The cost of getting LEED certification can vary widely, but on average it can range from several thousand euro. The cost will depend on the level of certification sought, and the size and complexity of the building. The cost can also depend on the number of professionals involved, such as architects, engineers, and energy consultants.
The cost of getting BREEAM certification can also vary widely, but it typically ranges from several thousand euro. The cost will depend on the level of certification sought, and the size and complexity of the building. The cost can also depend on the number of professionals involved, such as architects, engineers, and energy consultants.
It’s important to note that the cost of certification is just one aspect of the process, and it should be considered in the context of the benefits that certification can provide, such as increased energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and improved indoor air quality. These benefits can help to offset the cost of certification over time and can lead to significant cost savings in the long run.
It’s also worth noting that the cost of certifications may be covered by the Government’s different retrofitting schemes, providing the building meets certain criteria.
What are the benefits of LEED certification?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification provides a number of benefits for buildings, including:
- Increased energy efficiency: Buildings that are certified under LEED are designed and built to be more energy efficient, which can result in lower energy bills and a reduced environmental impact.
- Improved indoor air quality: Buildings that are certified under LEED are designed and built to improve indoor air quality, which can result in a healthier environment for building occupants.
- Reduced water consumption: Buildings that are certified under LEED are designed and built to reduce water consumption, which can help to conserve this valuable resource.
- Increased property value: Buildings that are certified under LEED can command higher rental rates and sell for a higher price than non-certified buildings.
- Increased tenant satisfaction: Buildings that are certified under LEED can provide a healthier, more comfortable, and more productive environment for tenants, which can lead to increased tenant satisfaction and retention.
- Marketing advantage: Having a LEED certification can be a strong marketing tool for landlords and property managers.
- Compliance with regulations: LEED certification can help buildings to comply with local, state, and federal regulations related to energy efficiency and environmental impact.
- Cost savings: The cost savings from energy efficiency, water conservation and reduced waste can help offset the cost of certification over time.
- Environmental benefits: By reducing the energy consumption and environmental impact of buildings, LEED certified buildings contribute to a more sustainable future.
LEED certification is a widely recognised and respected standard for green building, and it can provide a number of tangible benefits for building owners, tenants, and the environment.
What are the disadvantages of LEED certification?
While LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification provides many benefits, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:
- High cost: The process of getting LEED certification can be costly, with costs ranging from several thousand euro, depending on the size and complexity of the building, and the level of certification sought.
- Time-consuming process: The process of getting LEED certification can be time-consuming, with various stages of documentation, submittals, and inspections that need to be completed.
- Complex documentation and certification process: The LEED certification process can be complex and requires a lot of documentation and submittals, which can be challenging for some building owners.
- Limited applicability: LEED certification is primarily applicable to new construction or major renovation projects, meaning that existing buildings may not qualify for certification.
It’s important to consider these disadvantages and weigh them against the benefits of LEED certification before deciding to pursue certification for a building. However, many of the disadvantages can be mitigated by carefully planning the certification process, and by working with experienced professionals who can guide you through the process.
When it comes to green leases, what steps should a landlord take to minimise their risk:
- Understand the terms of the lease: Carefully review the lease agreement and understand the specific provisions related to energy efficiency and other environmental considerations.
- Conduct energy audits: Conduct regular energy audits of the building to identify any areas where energy efficiency can be improved. This can help to reduce the landlord’s risk by identifying potential issues before they become major problems.
- Retrofit the building: Make energy efficiency upgrades to the building, such as adding insulation, installing energy-efficient lighting, or upgrading HVAC systems. This can help to reduce energy costs and minimise the landlord’s risk.
- Work with tenants: Work with tenants to encourage energy-efficient behavior, such as turning off lights and equipment when not in use. This can help to reduce energy consumption and minimise the landlord’s risk.
- Stay up to date with regulations: Stay informed about the energy efficiency regulations and make sure the building is in compliance.
- Communicate with the tenants: Communicate with tenants about energy efficiency measures and encourage them to take responsibility for energy-efficient behavior.
- Consider involving a third party expert: Consider involving a third party expert to help with energy audits, retrofitting and compliance.
- Have a plan for dealing with non-compliance: Have a plan in place for dealing with tenants who do not comply with the energy efficiency provisions of the lease.
By taking these steps, landlords can help to minimise their risk and reduce the potential impact of energy efficiency provisions in the lease agreement.
Is Ireland adopting EU Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU (n ZEB Directive) and there is the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021?
Yes, Ireland is in the process of adopting the EU Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU, also known as the Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (nZEB) Directive. This directive establishes minimum energy performance standards for new buildings and major renovations, with the goal of achieving nearly zero-energy buildings by 2021.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, which aims to increase energy efficiency in buildings and reduce carbon emissions from the built environment. It is also known as the “Retrofitting of Buildings Bill” and it will require landlords to retrofit their buildings to meet certain energy efficiency standards by certain deadlines.
The bill includes a number of provisions related to the retrofitting of existing buildings, including measures to increase energy efficiency, promote the use of renewable energy, and encourage the use of green leases. The bill will also establish a national retrofitting scheme, which will provide financial assistance to landlords who wish to retrofit their buildings.
As of 2021, the bill is under review and has not been passed yet. But the Government has set a target to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030 and plans to retrofit 1.5 million homes by 2050, which is a significant step towards reducing the carbon emissions of the residential sector and reaching the targets set by the EU directive.