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CB Richard Ellis to Enroll 100 Buildings in LEED-EB Through Portfolio Program

CB Richard Ellis (“CBRE”) will select 100 office buildings from the 1,000 that it manages in the U.S. to join the LEED Portfolio Program under the Existing Buildings (“LEED-EB”) standard. The plan comes on the heels of the firm’s announcement that it will aim to become carbon neutral by the end of 2010. CBRE told that it hopes to select all 100 buildings by the end of 2007 and that there’s been “tremendous interest” from owner clients that it’s already approached about potentially participating. CBRE manages 250 million square feet of office space in the U.S.; its total management portfolio is approximately 615 million square feet. As part of its efforts, CBRE will provide green practices education for staff at the 100 buildings that are selected, as well as train at least 100 employees to earn the LEED-AP accreditation from USGBC.

CBRE’s plans are ambitious; the LEED-EB standard is rigorous and operations-driven, requiring one year of building performance data in order for a project to even qualify and participate. Buildings must also be at least two years old to receive certification; new buildings can enroll from the outset, but can’t immediately earn the designation. However, at least statistically, the program has not been very successful. Since its introduction back in 2004, of the 824 projects that have earned any type of LEED certification, only 46, or 5.6 percent, have been certified under LEED-EB.

USGBC has recognized the shortcomings of what should be an extremely effective tool for building owners and managers, and major revisions to the system, designed to place more emphasis on product rather than process, as well as make the application process more user-friendly, are currently being voted on USGBC members. USGBC’s attention to LEED-EB seems to be working. At the close of 2006, only 300 properties had registered in pursuit of certification but, by last May, that figure had swelled to over 600. Adding a high-profile manager like CBRE to its participant ranks should be a major boost to LEED-EB as the system prepares to embrace major structural changes once the voting period closes on November 26.

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