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September 13, 2012

EAI Offers Green Certification to Commercial Buildings Under 100,000 Square Feet



Earth Advantage Institute (EAI)—a Portland, Oregon-based environmental advocacy organization serving stakeholders in the construction industry—has launched the Earth Advantage Commercial (EAC) green building certification program.

The EAC program offers a rigorous green-building certification that is accessible and cost-effective for commercial buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet. Fully 95 percent of all commercial buildings fall into this smaller category; however, green certification is often overlooked due to its perceived complexities and cost.

The new initiative is an update of a model created by EAI in the late 1990s, before the organization became a not-for-profit in 2005. The first Earth Advantage Commercial program was a subsidiary of Portland General Electric—an electric utility that today serves over 800,000 customers within a 4,000-square mile service territory that comprises 52 Oregon cities. At that time, EAC was responsible for certifying more than 50 buildings.

In 2010, EAI began piloting a retooled commercial certification concept in collaboration with Energy Trust of Oregon, also located in Portland—which is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable energy. Ten new buildings were involved in the 2010 testing program requirements and viability.

Late last year, EAI determined that the success of the pilot projects warranted a full national launch of the program in 2012. In August 2012, 12 representatives from eight architectural, engineering, and green building consulting firms successfully completed the two-day Project Trustee training and credentialing exam to become part of EAC's Preferred Partner network. The Preferred Partner network is a new, rapid deployment delivery mechanism for EAC certification that initially will be concentrated in the Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast.

Stacey Stemach, principal at the EAC Preferred Partner, Ambient (News - Alert) Architecture of Bend, Oregon, said, "I am looking forward to the opportunity to certify new and existing buildings with the Earth Advantage Commercial program. The EAC program is best-suited to the types and sizes of projects that we have in our practice."

The program is based on three levels of certification: Platinum, Gold, and Silver. The measures are cumulative and prescriptive, allowing for a greatly simplified certification process, which EAI's pilot program found to be missing in the market segment. Developers, architects, engineers, green building consultants, and builders welcome a prescriptive, simplified, and cost effective pathway to certification for commercial buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet. These professionals note that the absence of such a certification option is a strong deterrent against certifying smaller buildings. 

"The success of our EAC pilot in Oregon, along with the tremendous interest we've received from across the country, is a clear indication that there is a demand for green building certification options for small commercial buildings. EAC is fully prepared to meet that demand," said Diana Fischetti, the commercial program manager and program contact at EAI. "We are excited to work with our Preferred Partner network and many smaller commercial building projects that will now be empowered to ensure their buildings are built sustainably."

The following are initial EAC Preferred Partners that employ graduated Project Trustees from the EAC training: Ambient Architecture, Brightworks Sustainability Advisors, Chesshir Architecture, Green Hammer Design & Build, Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch, Pinnacle Architecture, Steele Associates Architect, and System Design Consultants.

The following projects are among those that have been certified under Earth Advantage Commercial version 1.0 or under the certification’s former name, American Honda (News - Alert) Regional Training & District Center; Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (“the Ecotrust Building”); Nike Inc Buildings A (Mia Hamm), B (Ken Griffey Jr.), C (Pete Sampras), D, E & F(Jerry Rice); Addidas USA Village Buildings A, B, C, G and Garage; PGE Park; University of Portland Swindell’s Hall Science Building; Veridian Place; Salem Courthouse Square and Juvenile Market; InFocus Headquarters; and Norm Thompson Corporate Headquarters.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman


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