Why is my LEED® project in trouble?
We begin any new venture with the best of intentions. Building owners and developers who strive to reduce their environmental footprints by pursuing LEED certification for their projects are no exception. But sometimes project expectations go off-rail. How do LEED projects go awry and fail to meet Certification standards? First, for those new to LEED I must clarify the difference between a LEED Registered project and LEED Certified project. A LEED Registered project signals its intention to meet the standards to become LEED Certified, at any level – like using your turn signal when driving to signal your intention to turn. A project is Registered with the Green Building Council at the initial planning stage indicating the area of LEED pursued (New Constrution & Major Renovation, Commercial Interiors, etc) and level of attainment anticipated. Registering the project avails the team of all the templates and checklists necessary for submission to the Green Building Council. These templates help prove that required standards have been met. Many LEED Registered projects never earn enough credits to become LEED Certified – at any level. Good intentions unmet.
So where are the bumps in the road?
The first bump is failing to implement an Integrated Design Process. It is critical to success that every party involved in the project is on board: the owner, designers, engineers, trades, facility managers and users. The whole team must be well coordinated.
The second bump relates to the first one: Omissions in documentation. This is where your LEED project facilitator is important. The LEED facilitator will insure that drawings reflect credit requirements and will prepare templates for materials and the trades to keep the documents coming in on the schedule required. The facilitator can help keep the whole team in the loop as the project progresses.
The third bump is that elements of the project simply fail to be implemented. This can occur if energy modeling is neglected, if materials are substituted, if waste is not separated properly, etc. This bump occurs most frequently when sub-trades are not properly coached and are not on board.
A fourth bump can occur if the LEED templates are not completed properly and are not easily read. Credit synergies should indeed coordinate and reflect one another. This is another place where your LEED facilitator is of great value in seeing that the project succeeds and attains the LEED Certification sought.
Yes, LEED project documentation is time consuming and detailed. Unless you are prepared to dedicate a LEED AP staff member for the duration of the project, it is prudent to hire a LEED documentation facilitator to coordinate the project with you. They’ll direct the traffic to get you where you want to go.