LEED / how green is green

FSB Collage of Sustainable Images

At the beginning of every project, FSB has an in-house, multi-discipline brainstorming meeting to explore how to apply sustainable principles to the design of the project. If we are pursuing LEED certification, we expand our discussions into a LEED workshop where we investigate the various points that can or cannot be achieved for the project using the USGBC checklist. This is an all disciplines on deck exercise as LEED points cover the spectrum of architecture and engineering systems, materials and design considerations. As you recall, our goal is to achieve LEED Platinum the top prize valued at 80 points.

(new post each Tuesday. coming next: The Design/putting on the ritz)

There are 5 basic categories of points and two additional categories that include innovation in design and regional priority. Within each basic category there are prerequisites which are mandatory requirements to achieve and other points you can choose to achieve. In the first round of evaluation you can tag each point as Yes (achievable), No (not achievable) or ? (Possibly achievable). The categories breakdown as follows:

Sustainable Sites – 26 points possible

The category deals with issues that include construction pollution reduction, development density, brown fields, alternative transportation, site development, storm water design, heat island effect and light pollution. The construction pollution prevention is a prerequisite.

Water Efficiency – 10 points possible

This category deals with issues that include water use reduction, water efficient landscaping, innovative wastewater technologies, and additional water use reduction concepts. The initial water use reduction is a prerequisite.

Energy and Atmosphere – 35 points possible

The category deals with issues that include optimizing energy performance, on-site renewable energy, enhanced commissioning, enhanced refrigerant management, measurement and verification and green power. Prerequisites are fundamental commissioning, minimum energy performance and fundamental refrigerant management.

Materials and Resources – 14 points possible

This category deals with issues like building reuse (more for renovation), construction waste management, materials reuse, recycled content, regional materials, rapidly renewable materials and certified wood. Prerequisites include the storage and collection of recyclables.

Indoor Environmental Quality – 15 points possible

This category deals with issues like outdoor air monitoring, increased ventilation, construction indoor air quality, low-emitting materials, indoor chemical and pollutant source control, controllability of systems-lighting, thermal comfort and daylight and views. Prerequisites include minimum indoor air quality and environmental tobacco smoke control.

Innovation and Design Process – 6 points possible

The purpose of this category is to provide design teams and projects the opportunity to achieve exceptional performance above the requirements set by the LEED Green Building Rating System and/or innovative performance in Green Building categories not specifically addressed by the LEED Green Building Rating System.

Regional Priority Credits – 4 points possible

The purpose of this category is to provide an incentive for the achievement of credits that address geographically specific environmental priorities. A database of Regional Priority credits and their geographic applicability is available on the USGBC website. One point is awarded for each Regional Priority credit achieved;

As we grind through the checklist of points, there becomes a clear picture of the types of materials and systems that will be a part of the building. The project will need to incorporate green features such as a photovoltaic system, rain water harvesting, high-efficiency building envelope and mechanical systems and low maintenance landscaping. It definitely helps to have a strong background in LEED principles or being an accredited professional in making the assessment of attainable points.

When we get to the end of the checklist, the third or fourth time, we now have the target points identified. Here’s how it sums up:

Category                                              Yes     No      Maybe

Sustainable Sites                                        12        1          13

Water Efficiency                                         10        0          0

Energy and Atmosphere                            33        0          2

Materials and Resources                            6          6          2

Indoor Environmental Quality                     14        0          1

Innovation and Design Process                 4          0          2

Regional Priority Credits                            3          0          1

Totals                                                        82      7        21

We have identified 82 points which is a mere 2 points over the minimum for platimun; not much wiggle room. This is a good start but it’s just a target list. We have to turn these possible points into real points as we develop the design of the project both architecturally and engineering. To see the complete checklist of points and the summary of our analysis click here. Now it’s time to get on with the design.

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Filed under Design, LEED ®, Materials

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