If there is any ‘glory’ in being a LEED AP, it’s probably on the design side. That’s where you get to influence the architects and engineers, even the project owner, to wheedle a little more efficiency out of the energy system, or squeeze in a few more bike racks or electric vehicle charging stations. But from my experience, the LEED AP really earns their keep during the construction phase, making sure that the materials specified are actually used, keeping harmful VOCs out of the building, maximizing recycling of construction waste, and sourcing products with local and recycled content.
Theoretically, no one knows the contract documents better than the contractor, and they know what submittals they need to provide to show compliance. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they know where to find the information the LEED AP needs, and that can lead to a lot of ‘revise and resubmit’ or even ‘rejected’ submittals that can negatively impact the already tight schedule. There are two simple steps that contractors can take that will help reduce problems with LEED submittal reviews:
- Highlight the LEED-required Data. Most spec sections require product data sheets, MSDS sheets, and LEED data, often in different sub-sections. Use FoxIt or any other free PDF-editing software to highlight the text or to place a red circle around the data. Do not scan a hand-highlighted document because it becomes illegible by the time it reaches the LEED AP.
- For paints, caulks, sealants, or adhesives, submit the MSDS and highlight or circle the VOC g/L of each specific product being used on the project. I have rarely seen a product data sheet that contains the LEED-required data. DO NOT submit the entire spec section and/or product data sheets in addition to the MSDS. This is very irritating.
- For construction waste management, submit a monthly report from your hauler that summarizes the total tons of waste collected by type (i.e., wood, metal, paper, landfill, etc.). DO NOT submit individual load tickets!
- For recycled and regional content, you may have to do some hunting. Go to the manufacturer’s website and search for data specific to your product; DO NOT submit general information or slick marketing brochures, these will be rejected.
- Specific to regional content, you need to know where this product is made and from where the raw materials are extracted; in LEED parlance this is ‘extraction’ or ‘harvest.’ You may need to e-mail the manufacturer for this information, but if you don’t try, the project cannot get any credit just for a product being manufactured locally.
- Remember, it is the contractor’s responsibility to ensure that 10% or 20% of the total value of the materials on your contract (depending on the specs) are recycled and regional content. I recently sent back an asphalt mix as ‘revise and resubmit’ for not having any recycled content; it was not required by the spec but it was allowed, and as the LEED AP I know that if we don’t have recycled content in the concrete and asphalt wherever possible we won’t be able to reach our LEED goals. Ideally, you reviewed these product options during the bid process, but if you didn’t translate that to your subs then your efforts might be lost, and that can lead to delays or rejections of pay apps.
- Put “LEED” in the submittal document title. It is common for a submittal to go through multiple people before it gets to the LEED AP; first to the prime contractor, then the construction manager, then the AOR, and finally the LEED AP. By putting LEED right on the submittal cover the AOR knows it should go to the LEED AP. If you have followed tip #1, you are putting LEED on the cover because you know the submittal contains the exact information required by LEED in the specification. If you are submitting a product data sheet for compliance with a sub-section in the same spec, do not label it for LEED.
Attached to this post are a couple of examples of ‘good’ LEED submittals showing the required data clearly highlighted. Remember, making the review easier for the LEED AP saves you time and money down the road; quick approvals keeps schedules on time!