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Top-10 LEED Snafus.... And Tips to Avoid Them

Posted January 05, 2010 11:46 AM by Tristan Roberts
Related Categories: LEED
It could be worse.
Happy New Year from, and from our credit-by-credit guide to getting LEED done, LEEDuser. (Which, I want to add, is available for only $9.95/month!) I hope you'll enjoy this fun compilation of common (or not-so-common) LEED problems, with links to LEEDuser credit guidance. On a more serious note, you might also enjoy my recent post, Hard-Won Lessons From a LEED 2009 Early Adopter.

Snafu #10: Being threatened to be hung from the construction crane if the project doesn't earn LEED Gold.

LEEDuser tip: Create a detailed checklist with tasks delegated to individual team members, allowing each member to focus on assigned tasks. The checklist can function as a status tracking document and, finally, the deliverable for LEED Online.

Snafu #9: Installing bike racks for residents of an assisted living facility.

LEEDuser tip: In determining whether to pursue this credit, project teams should carefully consider climate, terrain, project location, cultural norms, and other factors that may affect bike ridership.

Snafu #8: Working with the mall developer who thinks that maybe hybrid owners "prefer" to park in the back of the lot... next door.

LEEDuser tip: "Preferred parking" refers to parking spaces near the building entrance, or to discounted parking rates (minimum 20% discount), which must be offered to all eligible parking customers.

Snafu #7: A certain project team member (who will remain nameless) won't stop calling it "LEEDs."

LEEDuser tip: Sorry, no tips for this!

Snafu #6: When the owner wants to earn the Integrated Pest Management credit for LEED-EBOM despite fumigating the building once a month as standard practice.

LEEDuser tip: When mechanical controls or least-toxic chemicals do not sufficiently address pest infestations, you are permitted to use toxic chemicals as a last resort, as long as you provide universal notification that complies with the credit requirements.

Snafu #5: Walking into the middle of an IAQ flush-out and seeing that the painter is just getting started.

LEEDuser tip: Many teams consider the flush-out option, but ultimately choose the testing option for practical reasons, such as difficulty in scheduling.

Snafu #4: The contractor is changed three times during the project--and we only end up recycling 1% of construction waste!

LEEDuser tip: Identify a hauler with a strong construction waste recycling program.

Snafu #3: The project decides to take FSC-certified wood out of the specs, but after 100% CD's (late in the process, in other words!) decided to go for FSC after all--incurring a huge mark-up.

LEEDuser tip: Revisit the baseline wood budget as the design evolves to make sure your numbers remain accurate and that you remain on track to achieve your goal for the credit.

Snafu #2: Following a change order, high-VOC paint was used in a fire-protective application--but we used a lower-VOC paint to cover it up!

LEEDuser tip: If noncompliant materials are used onsite accidentally, or due to a warranty or other issue, you can use the VOC budget method.

Snafu #1: The LEED kick-off meeting in the construction trailer.

LEEDuser tip: You'll most likely have to significantly exceed your local energy code. Achieving this energy reduction requires special attention to detail by your entire team from the beginning of the design process.

What are your top LEED snafus? Share in the comments below.

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1 use - t posted by verdedude on 01/10/2010 at 05:26 pm

use - the best online resource for quickly identifying regionally manufactured products that can help earn LEED points for certified wood, recycled content, reclaimed material, rapidly renewable material and low VOCs

2 Fair point, jmland, and if th posted by Tristan Roberts on 01/06/2010 at 08:50 am

Fair point, jmland, and if the assisted living residents themselves can use bikes, all the better. However, the point behind the joke is that the sizing calculations for this LEED credit cover all building users, not just staff, and not just people who are remotely likely to use bicycles.

That's both a good thing about this credit (it keeps everyone honest and encourages biking) and the reason everyone (myself included) likes to make jokes about it.

3 RE: Snafu #9: Who's to say t posted by jmland on 01/06/2010 at 07:38 am

RE: Snafu #9: Who's to say that the bike racks aren't intended for staff of the assisted-living facility and/or visitors?!

4 1) The Owner is in a rush to posted by Bill Swanson on 01/05/2010 at 09:42 am

1) The Owner is in a rush to be first in town with a LEED building for marketing reasons but doesn't know anything about LEED. Expects LEED certification in a couple months just for writing a check and never hired a CxA.

2) The Owner's IT staff have a kick off meeting to prepare moving into the new building and have a pizza party the day before IAQ air testing is done in the room the test is being done in.

3) The CM views the 2 week flush out as buffer in his schedule and always seems to be sacrificed as the project deadline nears.

4) The CxA is hired after the construction has started.

5) Contractors not familiar with what documentation is required.

6) The LEED project administrator pushing off credit documentation onto other project members as a cost savings for their office.

7) The architect, unfamiliar with LEED, selling the LEED project idea to the owner and then trying to figure out what they'll need to do to get the project certified.

8) Expecting LEED documentation to just "work itself out" and not having a motivated team member in charge of harassing team member to get their portions done.

9) Underestimating the time involved in a LEED submittal when scheduling staff's time.

10) Not doing the Energy model as early as possible.

5 11) Owner assumes that fundam posted by Chris Schaffner on 01/08/2010 at 09:37 am

11) Owner assumes that fundamental commissioning is part of MEP engineers' typical scope of work. - Explain commissioning to owners at the outset of the project. 12) "How much more would it cost to be [next level] of certification" - This is always a loaded question, stay away from the cost per point discussion. Instead ask "what makes sense for this project" 13) "We just want to be LEED Certifiable" - clients who do this aren't really sure what they want. Watch to make sure that things don't slip as the project progresses 14) Reviewer invents new LEED requirements - lobby GBCI for better quality control 15) "We have always practiced green/integrated design" - no you haven't 16) "[Strategy X] should qualify for an innovation credit, since we've never done it that way before." - think of ID credits as wild cards, new ideas not always required. 17) "We don't meet EQp1, as the windows are more than 25 ft away"; "well, the smoking area is not at the MAIN entrance" - always check your pre-reqs first

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