GreenSpec Guideline Specifications

Before using the guideline specification language, please read the disclaimer.

Introduction to Guideline Specifications

These Division 1 sections are adapted from drafts of specifications that were developed by green building consultants 7group and BuildingGreen for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Research Triangle Park Campus. These guideline specifications are designed to be modified as needed for new development, retrofits, and maintenance. They are organized into three Division 01 sections:

Together, these three sections provide an overview of sustainable design requirements that might be appropriate in a wide variety of projects. When these sections are used in actual project specifications, specific requirements must be inserted throughout the construction documents to ensure compliance with the sustainable design intent.

Topics relating to sustainable design that are not directly reflected in the specifications (because they are determined by design or siting decisions, for example) are identified below as a support to project designers. Notes are included throughout these specifications describing the rationale for product- or material-specific guidelines in the specification. A separate set of notes describe how those guidelines relate to the requirements in current versions of the LEED Rating System.

General Information About LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® Rating Systems are used as the basis for many of these sustainable design requirements. LEED is the predominant framework for implementing sustainable design in commercial and institutional buildings in North America. For projects pursuing LEED certification, or that wish to track their performance against LEED, the specifications include details on how LEED's requirements relate to the expressed requirements. Details on specific credits in the new LEED 2009 Ratings Systems can be found on

Projects seeking LEED certification must be submitted for review by the Green Building Certification Institute. A web-based tool, LEED Online, is available for submitting project documentation. More detail on the relationship between LEED and these Guideline Specifications appears below. Information specific to each of the three sections follows.

Indoor Air Quality Management

Section 01 81 13, “Sustainable Design Requirements,” includes general requirements for managing and protecting indoor air quality during construction. It is written to conform with the requirements in LEED-NC EQ credit 3.1 and LEED-EB EQ credit 3. More detailed requirements for testing indoor air prior to occupancy, and for testing products that are to be installed, are included in Section 01 81 09, “Testing for Indoor Air Quality.”

Section 01 81 09 is intended to define terms and lay out general procedures and requirements for testing to ensure adequate indoor air quality prior to occupancy of a new or refurbished facility. The scope of this document is limited to testing procedures and performance thresholds for those tests, including both testing of indoor air prior to occupancy, and testing of products and materials to be used in construction.

Threshold values in Section 01 81 09 have been determined largely based on interviews with indoor air researchers at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This document cites California Department of Health Services protocols for testing of materials, and California's chronic reference exposure levels (CRELs) for compounds of concern in establishing indoor air performance thresholds.

The sampling and analytical methods for speciating fungi have evolved significantly in the last decade. Based on consultations with EPA researchers, this specification calls for DNA detection using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR). The QPCR method is more reliable and consistent than conventional morphology using visual identification, which is highly dependent on the experience of the technician.

This method allows for accurate detection and speciation of more fungi that typical morphology. Given the relative dearth of experience with comparative indoor-outdoor fungal tests in new construction, the threshold of 10% differential in species between indoors and out is not well established, and should be revisited over time.

Sustainable Design Requirements

Section 01 81 13, “Sustainable Design Requirements,” sets the stage for all sustainable design goals and demands that are expressed throughout the construction documents. Significant parts of this section are devoted to submittals and guidelines for product selection. Technically, this information may not belong in a “Part 2” of the specification, since no products should actually be purchased and installed based solely on these requirements. But for common usage it is more intuitive to retain this as “Part 2.” While those requirements would be repeated in the appropriate technical sections, collecting them in this Division 1 section provides an important reference for the project team.

Ideally, product and material selection decisions would be based on a comprehensive, reliable life-cycle assessment to determine the most environmentally preferable choice for each application. Such a selection process is not feasible for most construction and renovation projects at this time. However, the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability software tool from the National Institute for Standards and Technology contains information that makes such comparisons feasible for at least one product category—carpets. The comments in the specifications document include a suggestion for using BEES as part of a carpet selection process. In addition the Athena Environmental Impact Estimator software from the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute ( provides useful guidance in comparing major building structural systems. That software is not referenced in this specification, however, as it is more appropriate for use by designers than by contractors working on the construction of a building.

General Commissioning Requirements

Section 01 91 00, “General Commissioning Requirements,” is intended to define terms and lay out general procedures and requirements for commissioning. It is to be supplemented by a detailed commissioning plan, and, if appropriate depending on the complexity of the project, specific commissioning sections detailing requirements for commissioning pluming, HVAC, electrical, and other systems. Additional requirements regarding the commissioning of specific systems should be described in the appropriate sections in Divisions 22, 23, 26, and elsewhere in the specification.

Although the requirements in this specification are only binding for parties that are contracted to carry out the specified work, the owner and other members of the project may be expected to support the commissioning process by sharing information and participating in meetings. Therefore, information is provided regarding the roles of other members on the design team to ensure successful coordination of the commissioning process. There are many sources of additional guidance on commissioning. The following organizations have programs for certifying commissioning practitioners:

AABC Commissioning Group (ACG), a subsidiary organization of the Associated Air Balance Council (AABC), offers “Certified Commissioning Authority” designation:

Building Commissioning Association offers “Certified Commissioning Professional” designation:

Measurement and Verification

An additional related credit is not addressed in the specifications because it exceeds the temporal scope of the document. LEED-NC EA credit 5 for “Measurement and Verification” credit requires development and implementation of a measurement and verification (M&V) plan for at least one year of post-construction occupancy.

The measurement and verification protocols in this specification are based on the parts of the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol documents that are most relevant to new (Volume III) and existing (Volume I) buildings.

LEED and these Guidelines Specifications

Many LEED credits are not addressed directly in these Guideline Specifications because the achievement of those credits is determined by choices made in site-selection or design, and it is not affected by product choices or other activities governed by these sections. The designer will need to ensure that any such credits have been addressed appropriately in the design and construction process.

Early versions of LEED have required the submittal of extensive documentation from contractors and subcontractors to verify compliance with credit requirements. Recently, in conjunction with the shift to online submissions, the documentation requirements have been reduced dramatically. However, the owner or designer is required to vouch for the fact that the requirements have been met, so it is good practice to require documentation as a way of ensuring that they have, indeed, been met.

Section 01 81 13 includes some guidance regarding plumbing, mechanical and electrical components such as wiring, piping, and ductwork. However, it should be noted that such materials are generally excluded from the materials and resources credits in LEED version 2.

Most of the submittals requested in these Guideline Specifications are documents that might be required as part of LEED submission for an early version of LEED, and are still worth requiring for verification purposes whether or not they are needed for a LEED application.

For projects pursuing LEED certification, a “LEED Submittal Form” should be provided to the contractor for each LEED credit for which the contractor will be providing documentation. The contractor would then be expected to complete that form and attach any additional documentation to it. The project manager may wish to consider linking receipt of the completed forms to payment requests from the contractor at appropriate points in the process. There may however, also be submittals required for LEED or for the client that are not typically within the scope of the specifications document.

The commissioning requirements outlined in this specification are those that involve the contractor. This specification includes requirements that should be sufficient to meet the LEED-NC and LEED-EB commissioning prerequisites. The LEED-NC EA credit 3 for “Enhanced Commissioning” includes additional requirements that exceed the scope of this specification. The primary task that is not included in this section is design-phase commissioning, which would have to have been met before the construction documents are finalized. Along these lines, both the LEED-NC commissioning prerequisite and credit 3 require an “Owner's Project Requirements” (OPR) document and a Basis of Design (BOD) document to be completed prior to the mid construction document phase.

To meet the additional LEED credit, the commissioning process would have had to start during the design phase, and include additional requirements. This specification can be considered as one part of this larger commissioning process.

Because of the decision to cite the California-based protocol for product testing and performance thresholds, the “Testing for Indoor Air Quality” specification is significantly more stringent in its requirements than LEED for New Construction version 2.2, with the exception of certain compounds that are referenced in LEED but omitted from this specification because it was deemed unnecessary to test for them. Those tests can be added, however, if needed to conform with LEED's requirements.

Quality Assurance

Sustainable design requirements, including construction waste management, commissioning, and any other special procedures that may not be familiar to all players, should be the subject of a special meeting dedicated to the topic. This meeting should fully inform contractors and appropriate subcontractors, prior to construction, about the implications of these requirements on their work. In addition, in coordination with standard quality assurance program, sustainable design requirements should be addressed regularly throughout the project.