Owner’s Toolkit: Institutionalize New Practices

If you want to up your game and get the consistent quality you deserve you’ll need the right tools in your belt.  We’ve listed some useful green management tools below, starting with SPI Certification – a credential that cuts through professional greenwash to identify the firms that can deliver sustainability and excellence every time. Additionally OPRs, Life Cycle Costing and IDP workplans help you get from start to finish and achieve the performance you want.  Stay tuned to this space, as we will be adding links and additional details in the coming months.

SPI Certification

The SPI Green Organization credential tells you a lot more than counting LEED APs! It cuts through the professional greenwash and gets you the “A” teams that you can rely on for best-in-class service. If a firm has achieved SPI Certification, you know that they have the leadership and infrastructure to deliver consistent, high quality services.

Internal Stakeholder Checklist and Project Charter

Most large organizations need a tool to ensure internal, cross-departmental coordination. Capital projects, facilities operations, occupants and others need to be coordinated early on to ensure that the right questions are being asked and the right assumptions are being made. This document includes O&M parameters required for budgetary and planning considerations. Appropriate staff are  engaged at this point to give feedback and make sure all planning and coordination is being optimized, including waste removal and the use of swing space if necessary. This is usually a customized document that becomes boilerplate and reused over time.

OPR: Owner’s Project Requirements

The OPR is a living document that sets the baseline expectations for performance, design criteria, occupancy and more – it serves to get everyone on the same page and help align expectations and clarify assumptions. Many companies do not have standard OPR, but those who do see a significant improvement to the design process as well as the final product. This includes review or modification of checklists and refers to Design Standards and Guidelines and O&M Standards and Guidelines (below).


Everyone who procures services issues RFQs and/or RFPs but how effectively do they communicate your expectations related to sustainability? If you are just asking teams to tell you how many LEED projects they’ve done or how many LEED APs they have on staff, you won’t get what you need…those are useful but not sufficient. Effective RFPs will also touch on process and team methodology, a history of tracking performance on past projects, clearly articulated expectations about the performance of your project and more.

Design team selection

The traditional “dog and pony” show for selecting design teams is limited in its value, wastes a lot of time and energy and doesn’t tell you how well this team is suited to achieving the goals of your project. Once your candidates have met basic qualification review and you have a short list of competitors, SPI has developed an alternative selection process that reveals a lot more about how the team will really be to work with and how each team member approaches challenges. We call this the Reconstituted Master Builder. It uses a combination of individual and group activities to allow each team member even playing field to express their approach and then show how they “think” together!

Integrative Design Process (IDP) and Project Management

Adopt a standard protocol/methodology for project management based on optimizing critical-path decision making and integration of building systems to achieve optimum performance. Additionally, institutionalize new tools to help manage quality control across projects. Integrative design process – IDP – is based on WSIP ANSI standard. This process roadmap articulates major points of analysis and decision making. For every new project (or every project over a certain budget or size) the design team should be required to work with the Owner to create a Project Roadmap which articulates the specific metrics for performance and what will make the project a success. This includes energy targets, O&M, health, and parameters for life cycle cost evaluations, which will all be incorporated into the OPR (Owners Project Requirements). The roadmap will identify critical decision-making milestones that the team must reach (energy analysis, life cycle costing).

Building Systems Commissioning

(Cx) guidelines

Post occupancy evaluation (POE)

includes a specific checklist for use on all projects and is conducted by engaging all relevant stakeholders. POE occurs at one-year post occupancy and must include at least one year of operating data (all seasons). Lessons Learned process will occur once data is collected.

Lessons Learned checklist to guide discussion and track

Lessons Learned debrief with project team, selected occupants and finance. The checklist should include occupant satisfaction, evaluation of technologies, products/systems used and cost. The debrief of systems, products and technologies should be documented in an internal list/database capturing how they worked and life cycle costing (LCC) data.

Building Curator and Annual Reporting

A designated “building curator” is the point of connection to gather and disseminate comprehensive consumption patterns and occupancy behavior. This includes data related to energy use, emissions, water use and management, waste (including purchasing) and building occupant behavior using lighting and equipment (etc). T building curator is the keeper of the building profile, knowing the history and eccentricities of a particular building so that when a change is proposed, they can provide any information that might influence planning decisions.

Preventative maintenance plan

Facilities staff should develop a preventative maintenance plan for each building. This plan is part of the O&M toolkit.