Cooperation with the LEED consultant at the design stage

How does the designer cooperate with the LEED consultant?

A number of criteria have to be met to obtain the LEED certificate with a rating satisfactory to the builder. The final rating takes into account the total number of points. Therefore, depending on the nature of the project, certain points will be easier to get than others, (which may be given up). An experienced LEED specialist can help the designers to select the aspects that should be prioritized so that the builder and the design team can get to know all available options.
It is unquestionable that environmental certification specialists, using the experience from former projects, are much more capable of easily developing the correct solutions with the designers. They also know a number of standards used in LEED criteria that refer to US requirements for energy efficiency or ventilation. By working with the consultants, the design team does not have to learn many new aspects from scratch, which, obviously, saves a great deal of time.
At the design stage, it is also vital to coordinate the individual activities. The effort of the designers of electrical systems, water and sewage systems, ventilation and air conditioning systems or landscape engineers as well as the architectural firm will be required to score the important points. The LEED specialist, through systematic and active cooperation with the design team, will help to distribute responsibility to different design units and ensure an improved coordination of their work. These matters have to be organized to avoid having to “reinvent the wheel” and prevent misunderstandings concerning the responsibility for specific jobs. Some of the work related to the points to be scored will also be done personally by the consultant. One of the difficulties with the preparation of documentation for the certification body – USGBC – might be the need to use professional English. This is where the experience of the consulting company can be of use to the design team.
At the beginning of every certification process, the consultants, together with the builder and designer, analyze the assumptions of the project and individual solutions to be used in the building. This is followed by the determination of the general certification strategy and the optimum methods of certification. During later stages, specific technical solutions are analyzed and selected with the design team to pick the ones that are optimal in terms of the important points, implementation costs and provided results.
The LEED consultant may be hired at various stages of the designing process. In order to ensure the best possible outcome, this should be done as soon as possible, even before drawing the “first lines.” The criteria that have to be met to score LEED points are very complex, which means that there are certain prerequisites to be met, and there are a number of points that are mutually complementary. The LEED consultant will explain these complexities to the designers from the get-go and help to select the aspects on which the architects and discipline engineers should focus the most.
Successful design stage, producing the suitable number of points and the certificate itself, requires close cooperation between all participants of the process. LEED consultants should be involved in the project early enough to ensure its efficient and comprehensive implementation – from the creation of the general strategy and understanding of the complexities and principles governing environmental certification through the selection of optimum solutions to the creation of correct LEED documentation.

Błażej Szymczyński

The Green360° blog has been created to provide educational content and aid the development of the industry of certified sustainable construction. Green360° is the publishing part of JW+A.

Green360° will contain practical information and studies relating to LEED and BREEAM certification and facts from the commercial real estate market.

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