SERF uses a proprietary rating system with around 22 separate areas pertaining to sustainability for Office, Multi-Family Residential, Retail, Manufacturing & Distribution, Hospital and Institutional Facilities. Before beginning the certification process, applicants must hire a certified SERF Professional (SP) to verify the application. Only SERF Professionals (SPs) offer the requisite third party verification of applications for SERF certification. This independent verification is essential to maintain the integrity of the SERF seal.
The SERF Process
The SP essentially works with the building management/project teams throughout the certification process to clearly lay out the necessary requirements to prepare the application for submission to SERF and perform the required third party verification. The completed and verified application is submitted to SERF, who decides the awarding of certification. The process of certification is a four-step process.
SERF mainly follows a prescriptive process of certification. However, in the areas of energy and water efficiency, applicants have an option to demonstrate efficiency using a performance process. The benchmarks of sustainability used in the process are third party standards such as ASHRAE, ANSI, BIFMA, USDA etc.
SERF also uses a dynamic scoring system as an alternative to a static scoring system. This scoring system is percentage based, in which the denominator of the score may be adjusted to eliminate those credits which are impractical or cost prohibitive to implement especially in the case of existing facilities. Both of the above methodologies ensure fair requirements for both new and existing facilities, further enhancing SERF’s goal of making green building certifications flexible and responsive
Upon SERF’s receipt of the verified application and the initial certification fee, SERF staff reviews and processes the application and, where appropriate, grants certification. The current certification fees range from $4,000 to $12,000 (and $195 to $495 per year renewal fee). Applications are field inspected and audited on a random basis.
Annual renewal is automatic upon a “Statement of No Material Change” and payment of the annual renewal fee. In the event of a material change, the facility must be recertified to the then-current criteria.
Certified facility owners receive a colorful, all-weather SERF-certified seal for prominent display on their building façade. They also receive a limited license to use the seal on and about the certified facility and in print and electronic media specifically devoted to that facility. In addition, each certified facility receives an electronic verification icon for placement on its own website which links directly to its unique homepage on the SERF website at SERFgreen.org.
A popular addition to SERF’s certification package is the production of unique case studies prepared with research assistance from Michigan State University. These full-color documents, typically four pages in length, tell certified facilities’ sustainable stories to existing and prospective building tenants, employees, government officials and the community at large. SERF provides written copies as well as electronic versions at SERFgreen.org and available for use on the facility’s own website.
We welcome your participation by taking the first step and certifying your facility.