Green building certifications and rating systems such as Green Globes and LEED are acknowledged in China as tools for landlords or investors to differentiate their assets and for occupiers to receive recognition for CSR initiatives. These benefits have been sufficient to tip the market into a direction that will ultimately lead to certifications being adopted as business as usual; however, they do not scratch the surface of the potential benefits that these tools can be used to achieve. Used for comprehensive benchmarking, rating schemes can put the fundamental framework in place for a continuous improvement process needed to achieve optimal efficiency during the majority of a building’s life, thus minimizing the environmental footprint of that building significantly.
Buildings that adhere to certification criteria–during the design and construction phase or the operations phase–tend to outperform conventional buildings by significant margins. While this fact demonstrates some of the operational value of sustainable principles, it doesn’t describe the specific contribution the certification framework provides. By measuring performance across many metrics–which are tied to specific design features or operational processes–rating schemes systematically lay a framework for comprehensive benchmarking.
Once a building has benchmarked a particular baseline metric – whether it be the existence of low flow toilets and efficient lamps or the annual performance of a chiller system – against comparable buildings, it can begin to set not only goals for each of those metrics but also to identify areas of underperformance. An experienced facility management team will be able to take these performance insights gained during the certification process one step further and turn them into a roadmap for a continuous improvement program. With such a program in place, optimizing building performance and minimizing environmental impact can reach much higher standards of excellence than by simply walking away from the initiative once the certification is in hand.
Though China is at the earliest stage of incorporating this degree of facility management best practices into common practice, the popularity of certifications like LEED and the increasing availability of related expertise from facility management professionals like those in Jones Lang LaSalle make the probability of such a fundamental shift in the midterm very likely.