Study examines post-occupancy results of green buildings in Illinois

Chicago A regional study of green buildings is the first of its kind to study post-occupancy results of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings in the state of Illinois, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

"The Regional Green Building Case Study Project: a Post-Occupancy Study of LEED Projects in Illinois" report summarizes the first year of a multi-year study to analyze the post-occupancy benefits of 25 LEED-certified projects in Illinois related to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, construction and operating costs, cost of building green, health and productivity impacts, and occupant comfort.

The study was funded by the Grand Victoria Foundation and is a collaborative endeavor between the USGBC Chicago, U.S. EPA Region 5, the City of Chicago, Delta Institute and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which was the lead researcher for the project.

The study found that sustainability does not stop with building design and construction. While a building may be designed to be sustainable, it is often ongoing operational issues that affect the amount of energy, water, and other resources it consumes. Accordingly, ongoing performance evaluation is a key component of long-term sustainability.

"Sustainability must be integrated into ongoing operations and maintenance practices," said Kathy Tholin, CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, whose Chicago LEED Platinum building was a part of the study.

"Constructing to LEED Platinum was a natural choice given CNT's long-standing commitment to sustainable development," explained Tholin. "But our job is far from complete. Now that we're utilizing the space, sustainability means focusing on ongoing operations and maintenance. We're striving for continuous improvement."

Doug Widener, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council - Chicago Chapter said the report is “an important step toward achieving our mission of leading the regional transformation of the built environment to become ecologically sustainable, profitable, and healthy."

Illinois has been an early leader in green building construction, currently ranking sixth in the number of LEED buildings built, with the city of Chicago itself having more LEED-certified buildings than any other city in the country.