The EarthCraft Light Commercial program is about to get “retrofitted.” This month, the EarthCraft Light Commercial (ECLC) team is pushing out its certification program for commercial interior spaces. Referred to as EarthCraft Fit Out, the new certification option is closely aligned with the Light Commercial arm of the EarthCraft program but focuses specifically on retrofits of commercial spaces. While technically it is not its own stand-alone sub-brand within EarthCraft (like EarthCraft Communities or EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation), the new program does outline strategies and requirements for certification that are prescribed specifically for projects that are not new builds.
The need for EarthCraft Fit Out came about in response to the City of Decatur’s High Performance Building Ordinance passed in 2015, which requires all new and significantly renovated residential and commercial construction be certified under a green building program. The High Performance Building Ordinance is a testament to Decatur’s commitment to sustainability and resident well-being, closely reflecting the values of programs like EarthCraft, which promotes health, comfort, energy performance and preservation of natural spaces through its projects. Fit Out certification is meant to address the number of existing commercial spaces in Decatur that fall under the green building mandate of the High Performance Building Standard. “In commercial spaces, tenant turnover is inevitable,” says Stephen DeLaurier, Program Coordinator for the EarthCraft Light Commercial program. “If a new tenant wants to renovate or update features of the building, they must bring the building up to City Code. And in Decatur, that means that any retrofit must be certified under a green building program.” So if a new tenant moves in to a space and wants to install larger windows, the building will need to become green certified.
For a lot of business owners, a full renovation just isn’t financially possible. The EarthCraft Fit Out program offers tenants an option to achieve green certification through a streamlined, budget-friendly path. While EarthCraft Light Commercial tends to involve new construction projects or complete gut rehabs of commercial spaces under 50,000 square feet, the EarthCraft Fit Out certification is targeted for small-scale retrofits that don’t impact the building envelope, or the wall that separates interior and exterior spaces. Renovation projects that would require building certification includes updating windows, installing a new roof or bringing in more efficient mechanical equipment. By making these small building improvements, tenants would be required to make additional, but simple, upgrades which would include energy efficient lighting and improved wall insulation.
EarthCraft buildings, though, are about more than energy efficiency and building performance. They also help promote indoor air quality and occupant well-being through enhanced ventilation, low VOCs and more consistent indoor temperatures. For many tenants, EarthCraft certification and its added benefits can also be a way for businesses to highlight its position towards sustainability and an enhanced quality of life.
EarthCraft Fit Out is also a strategic opportunity for EarthCraft to capitalize on a key real estate market in Decatur. “Rolling out this program helps EarthCraft remain relevant in the Atlanta market while helping property owners meet their building performance needs and goals," says DeLaurier. "As businesses look to areas like Decatur for growth and opportunity, we'll be there to help them save money on operation costs and promote well-being for themselves and their patrons."
The EarthCraft Fit Out certification comes on the heels of the EarthCraft Light Commercial version 2.0 release, which brought technical and programmatic updates to the guidelines and worksheet that are used to pursue Light Commercial certification. These updates and the unveiling of the EarthCraft Fit Out program illustrate EarthCraft’s efforts to make its certification process more streamlined and accessible for builders and consumers without sacrificing rigor and program integrity. As green building becomes more prevalent in communities like Decatur, the Fit Out certification will aims to provide owners and contractors with a simple path to certification.