Specifying Sustainable Design

If sustainable design is a consideration for your project, SpecLink-E can help you correctly specify the requirements no matter which system you’re using.

Issues that may come up during the construction process include:

  • Intrinsic to Location: Such as access to transit, surrounding development density, use of a brownfield site.
  • Design Phase Activity: Such as integrative planning process, LEED AP on team, site environmental assessment, site master plan.
  • Post-Construction Activity: Such as green power offsets, "No Smoking" policies, agreements for joint use of school facilities.
  • Embodied in the Overall Design: Such as energy performance, daylighting, view, and direct access to exterior.
  • Explicitly Shown in the Contract Documents: Either on the drawings or in the specs, or both. Examples include:
    • On Drawings: Boundary for site development to protect existing vegetation.
    • Only in Specs: Contractor's indoor air quality procedures and testing, construction waste management procedures.
    • Shown in Both: Bicycle facilities; the location of bike storage and the shower room are shown and detailed on the drawings; the specs define the bike storage racks or lockers and the materials and systems for the shower room.

In general, the design team needs to decide which criteria or credits the project will pursue and which of those require specification content. SpecLink-E helps make these decisions by providing a concise list of provisions that address typical sustainable design issues—in particular, the LEED v4 BD+C prerequisites and credits. The complete list is at the end of Section 01 3329 - Sustainable Design Reporting, which is the starting point for specifying for sustainable design using SpecLink-E.

BSD SpecLink-E Sections Supporting Sustainable Design Specifying:

Section 01 3329 - Sustainable Design Reporting contains Contractor procedures supporting the documentation of sustainable design. The section explains the importance of the sustainable design rating to the Contractor and subcontractors because some of the credits available depend significantly on the Contractor's performance. This section also functions as a preliminary checklist of sections that may be needed to specify provisions to achieve specific credits. Intelligent editing of this section requires familiarity with the applicable Rating System document.

This section is not intended to contain any of the actual sustainable design criteria -- only procedural requirements that are binding on the Contractor, such as information to be gathered, forms to be submitted, and incentives, if any. Where SpecLink-E offers a solution to a specifiable criterion, the solution is specified in the section(s) covering that issue. For instance, Contractor procedures to aid in ensuring good indoor air quality are specified in the Indoor Air Quality Procedures section.

At the end of this section is a complete list of provisions in SpecLink-E that address sustainable design issues. This list has three functions:

  • To help the design team identify solutions that can easily be incorporated into the project because SpecLink-E already includes them,
  • To point out to bidders and the Contractor important provisions that relate to getting the project certified, and
  • To automatically activate the relevant provisions in other sections as the specifier chooses to include them in the edited section.

The last function provides the greatest time-saving. This automatic "turning on" of the relevant sections, and the relevant provisions within them, makes them highly visible to the specifier (the sections are marked with a green box in the project tree) allowing the specifier to quickly identify sections that require further editing for completion.

Other sections that a sustainable design project is most likely to need are:

Many other sections address specific issues for specific products, such as very low-GWP refrigerants in every section that involves refrigeration and sustainably harvested wood in Division 6 sections. These sections cannot be effectively prepared until design and material selection decisions have been made and are available to the specification preparer.


As of June 2014, SpecLink-E supports the following LEED rating systems:

  • LEED v4 BD+C, for Building Design and Construction:
  • NC, New Construction and Major Renovations
  • CS, Core and Shell Development
  • Schools
  • Retail
  • DC, Data Centers
  • WDC, Warehouses and Distribution Centers
  • HOS, Hospitality
  • HC, Healthcare

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. BSD SpecLink-E treats these requirements as generic sustainable design requirements so they can be used on projects that do not require LEED certification as well as those projects that do.

In addition, the sustainable design requirements are located in each applicable specification section, rather than gathered together in a single section, so that they can address the issues independently of which rating system is being used. For example, Section 01 5721 - Indoor Air Quality Controls, includes provisions to achieve several LEED Prerequisites and Credits, such as verification of ventilation effectiveness, testing air isolation of residential units, and 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. For SpecLink-E users, the easiest way to identify sections that address sustainable design issues is to review Section 01 3329 - SUSTAINABLE DESIGN REPORTING. Although its list of specification sections is intended for the Contractor’s information, it also serves as a checklist for the specifier.