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THE PATH TO SUCCESSFUL CONSTRUCTION SPECIFICATIONS

The LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating Systems are a set of voluntary, consensus-based national standards for rating and certification of the performance of buildings with regard to energy and water conservation, impact on the environment, indoor environmental quality, and conservation of resources.

SpecLink currently addresses the following LEED Rating Systems:

  • LEED-NC, for New Construction and Major Renovations, 2009 edition (v3) and version 2.2
  • LEED for Schools, 2009 edition (v3) and First Edition, Updated November 2007
  • LEED-CS, for Core & Shell Development, 2009 edition (v3) and version 2.0
  • LEED-CI, for Commercial Interiors, 2009 edition (v3 and version 2.0
  • LEED-EB, for Existing Buildings, Upgrades, Operations and Maintenance, version 2 (2009 edition of LEED-EB does not cover construction upgrades, only operations and maintenance)

Specifiers new to LEED should read the materials at USGBC's web site about the rating system their project is intended to be certified under. SpecLink includes specification sections and tools that will help with specifying for LEED but assumes a reasonable familiarity with the goals and principles of the Rating Systems itself, as well as the process of attaining certification of a building. USGBC offers a Reference Manual for each Rating System, plus workshops.

Specifying LEED at Early Design Phases

The Design Criteria of BSD SpecLink-E reference the four LEED Rating Systems for environmentally responsible design criteria; certification is optional. For RFP's and early design documentation, the performance specifications identify which credits are required, which are desirable, and which are not required. The Design-Builder can be given the responsibility of performing the Certification documentation, or the Owner can assume that responsibility.

Specifying LEED for Construction Documents

SpecLink takes a strategic, straightforward approach to specifying LEED requirements in the construction documents. Two sections with non-printing, automated checklists activate the appropriate specification provisions when the project manager or specifier determines which credits will be pursued. In addition, one of the checklists helps the specifier identify the credits that are easiest to achieve and easiest to specify, although not necessarily the lowest cost - the credits are presented in groups based on their importance and ease of achievement, not simply grouped by similar issues as the Rating System does. Our newsletter article from Summer 2005 gives more information on these credit categories.

Section 01 3514 (01354) -- LEED CREDIT SUMMARY is used to document the project team's intentions in regard to LEED certification and particular credits. For each credit, a status of "Required," "Preferred," or "Not Required" may be set, as a record of intentions. Following the statement of each credit is a brief description of pre-defined possible solutions, taken from the LEED Rating System itself, each linked to the specification sections which address the credit.

When one of the pre-defined solutions is selected, the appropriate specification section is highlighted in the Project Tree and the LEED-related provisions in that section are activated by links. For instance, if your project team has committed to using only "certified" wood, you can select any or all of the Division 6 carpentry sections as solutions to MR Credit 7. When you do, the requirement for certified wood (which SpecLink refers to as "sustainably harvested wood") is activated in each selected section along with its LEED Report submittal option. In addition, the basic specification provisions and submittal requirements for sustainably harvested wood are activated in Section 016000 Product Requirements. Similar provisions are activated for each pre-defined solution that involves the specifications.

For further coordination, the specification sections that have been activated are also listed in Section 01 3515 (01355) -- LEED CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES. This section is intended to inform the Contractor about LEED Certification and draw his attention to specific sections of the Project Manual that address LEED credits. The LEED-related specification sections are listed in Masterformat 2004 section number order — as opposed to LEED credit order as in the LEED Credit Summary section. When the Credit Summary section is prepared first, it will activate all the relevant sections in the LEED Requirements section.

Although the LEED CREDIT SUMMARY is explicitly intended for making a summary document early in the project, the LEED REQUIREMENTS section can also be used to "build" the Summary document, by means of links from the section-number-ordered list back to the credit-number-ordered list. This will be especially useful where the same specification section addresses issues that arise under different credits — all the credits relevant to a particular section are grouped under the section listing. Reviewing the list of relevant sections in both section number order and credit order will give the most complete picture.

Specifying LEED Without "Green" Materials

Even though "green" materials specifying has a high profile as a general "green" issue, the LEED-NC Rating System assigns only 8 credits (out of 69) to materials issues such as recycled content, rapidly renewable content, locally-manufactured products, re-used products, and "certified" wood. (The other Rating Systems are similar.) These credits, MR 3 through 7, all require a minimum percentage of the materials on the project to comply with the criteria. For instance, to get MR 6, for rapidly renewable content, at least 2.5 percent of the value of materials must be made from plants that are harvested within 10 years or less after planting. The other credits also specify a certain percentage, by material cost. In order to achieve any of these credits, the following must be known:

  • The total cost of all materials used in the project (not including MEP, labor and overhead).
  • The total cost of the materials intended to apply to the credit.
  • For materials that are not 100-percent made of the content applicable to the credit, the percentage of content that does comply (e.g. percentage of recycled content).
  • For specific credits, the actual location of manufacture, what the renewable content is, and certificates documenting compliance.

In order to gather the data needed, the Owner will need to have the Contractor submit detailed information for each different material that is applicable to the credit, usually along with shop drawings and product data submittals. The design professional (or other) then must do the calculations to see whether the credit has been achieved.

As one might gather from this description, documenting these credits could be quite time-consuming -- and the documentation time is independent of the time required to identify available products and specify them. Since only 8 credits are involved, and simple Certification can be achieved with only 26 of the 69 points, it is possible to achieve Certification without dealing with any "green" materials at all! Even the Silver, Gold, and Platinum Certifications are conceivably achievable without MR Credits 3-7 -- NC-Platinum requires only 52 of the 69 credits. Obviously, the use of "green" materials may be desirable anyway, but for the purpose of achieving LEED Certification the use of "green" materials is not mandatory.

Documenting "Green" Materials for LEED

As the discussion above indicates, achieving some of the MR credits requires more documentation than normally required. SpecLink includes forms to help the Contractor submit the necessary information. If achievement of certification depends on any of the "green" materials credits, use of these forms should be very helpful. Six forms relate to the MR credits for re-used products, recycled content, rapidly renewable content, locally- and regionally-source products, and certified wood. Another form provides a mechanism for ensuring that no installer uses adhesives, sealants, or urea-formaldehyde-containing wood products whether you have specified them or not -- this relates to IEQ credits. The forms are listed in the Catalog Listing following Section 013515 LEED Certification Procedures.

Specifying "GREEN" Without LEED

Although LEED requirements may be considered "green", all "green" provisions are not encompassed in the LEED Rating Systems. In most cases, LEED specification requirements are simply specifier options that may or may not apply to a particular project. SpecLink treats these requirements as generic "green" requirements so they can be used on projects that do not require LEED Certification as well as those projects that do. In addition, the "green" requirements are located in each applicable specification section, rather than gathered together in a single LEED-oriented section, so that specifiers can address the issues independently of LEED. For example, SpecLink Section 015721 - Indoor Air Quality Controls, includes provisions to achieve LEED EA Prerequisite 2 (testing dedicated smoking rooms), EA Credit 2 (verification of ventilation effectiveness), and EA Credits 3.1 and 3.2 (construction air quality procedures), without mentioning LEED at all! Any or all of these procedures would be equally valid on projects not requiring LEED certification.

The easiest way to identify sections that address "green" issues is to review Section 01 3515 (01355) LEED CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES. Although its list of specification sections is intended for the Contractor’s information, it also serves as a checklist for the specifier. Here’s a list of some of the SpecLink sections that address major environmental responsibility issues independently of LEED:

  • 01 5713 (01575) - Temporary Erosion and Sedimentation Control (prevention, remediation)
  • 01 5721 (01734) - Indoor Air Quality Controls (during construction and prior to occupancy)
  • 01 6000 (01600) - Product Requirements (project-wide material requirements and prohibitions)
  • 01 6116 (01616) - VOC Content Restrictions
  • 01 7000 (01700) - Execution and Closeout Requirements (site drainage, pollution prevention)
  • 01 7419 (01732) - Construction Waste Management and Disposal (landfill diversion)
  • 01 9113 (01810) - General Commissioning Requirements (functional testing by Contractor)
  • 01 9114 (01815) - Commissioning Authority Responsibilities (independent agency)
  • 02 6500 (02115) - Underground Storage Tank Removal (petroleum)
  • 02 8400 (13284) - Polychlorinate Biphenyl (PCB) Remediation (and mercury lamps)
  • 06 1000 (06100) - Rough Carpentry (and other Division 6 sections) (prohibition on old growth timber, sustainably harvested wood, salvaged and re-used wood)
  • 07 5050 (07505) - Vegetated Roof Components (for use over fulid-applied waterproofing or thermoplastic single-ply roofing
  • 07 9005 (07900) - Joint Sealers (VOC limits prescribed by law and LEED)
  • 09 6223 (09644) - Bamboo Flooring
  • 09 6800 (09680) - Carpeting and 09 6850 (09685) - Carpet Tile (low emitting materials)>
  • 09 9000 (09900) - Painting and Coating (VOC limits prescribed by law and LEED)
  • 23 0800 (15102) - Commissioning of HVAC (Contractor’s duties specific to HVAC)
  • 23 2113.33 (02555) - Ground-Loop Heat-Pump Piping
  • 31 1000 (02230) - Site Clearing (limits on site disturbance)
  • 32 1125 (02725) - Turf Surfaced Roadways
  • 32 1413 (02783) - Precast Concrete Unit Paving (open-grid pavers for pervious surfacing)

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