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Much of LEED is in the details, which can be daunting for general contractors to stay on top of. Following are answers to eight credit requirements that get questioned the most.

LEED MR Credit 2 – Construction Waste Management
Q: Does data from excavation and land clearing activities need to be collected on a monthly basis? Does dirt and associated debris get included in the waste diversion calculation?

Dirt, shrubbery, trees, grasses and all other types of land clearing debris should not be included in the waste diversion calculation. If hauling subcontractors provide this information in their monthly waste material breakdown reports, just ignore it. The only demolition and construction waste data needed is the tonnage of material diverted or sent to the landfill.

HITT - InvescoLEED IEQ Credit 4.1 – Adhesives/Sealants and LEED IEQ Credit 4.2 – Paints/Coatings
Q: What types of volatile organic compounds (VOC) products require LEED compliance and tracking?

All fluid-based VOC products that are applied onsite within the building’s waterproofing system must be reviewed for LEED compliance. If the product is applied in the shop or to the exterior of the building, then it is not applicable to LEED requirements, nor does it need to be included in the VOC product tracking for this credit.

LEED EA Prerequisite 1 – Fundamental Cx and LEED EA Credit 3 – Enhanced Cx
Q: When is it a good time to meet with the project’s commissioning (Cx) agent to begin discussing the LEED Cx requirements and schedule?

It is very important to know who the Cx agent is on the project before construction starts, as he may be reviewing MEP submittals as they come in from subcontractors. However, the Cx team will not perform an official site visit for some time into the project. Depending on the project schedule, a formal LEED Cx kickoff meeting should occur around the time ductwork is beginning to be hung. The Cx agent should be able to discuss scheduling for site visits and other pertinent details about the scope of the project. 

LEED IEQ Credit 3.1 – Construction IAQ Management Plan

Q: When should photo documentation for indoor air quality (IAQ) measures begin and why is it necessary to time stamp the photos?

First, read in full detail and understand the finalized LEED IAQ Management Plan requirements. This plan should be project specific and identify all measures that will be implemented onsite. Two specific provisions found in every LEED IAQ Management Plan are “Proper Storage of Absorptive Materials” and “Proper Storage of Mechanical Systems/Equipment.” This is a good place to start with photo documentation because drywall/gypsum board systems, insulation and ductwork typically are some of the first items to arrive onsite when building interior work begins. Check the construction schedule to see when materials will be delivered. Take photos of products covered/wrapped and elevated off the ground to prevent dust infiltration and mold growth. Regarding time-stamping, it is very important for the photos to serve as documentation that all measures were monitored and maintained throughout the different stages of construction, up to project completion. 

LEED IEQ Credit 4.3 –Carpet/Flooring Systems
Q: Sometimes all the hard-surface flooring (with the exception of natural or mineral-based products) needs to be FloorScore certified and other times it does not. Why is that?

A: This variance relates to projects following different versions of the LEED rating system. LEED v2.2 and older do not have FloorScore certification requirements and only require that carpet and carpet cushions/pads are Green Label Plus and Green Label certified, respectively. LEED v2009 has the additional FloorScore certification requirement as one of two options to achieve this credit. This relatively small detail can have ahuge impact on the flooring and the subcontractor selected for the project, which is why it is critical to understand which LEED rating system version each project is registered under.
HITT - Arlington Mill Community Center
LEED MRc4 Recycled Content and MRc5 Regional Materials
Q: Why do subcontractors have to provide dollar values for the products they are using in the building? Many are hesitant to do so due to disclosure of profit margin or, in the case of concrete or steel, they won’t know the exact dollar values until after operations or certifications are available. Is there a way to get around this but still provide information to be included in the contribution calculation for these two credits?

A: Recycled and regional credit achievement is based on percentages (by cost) of the total estimated construction value of theproject. Therefore, dollar values for the materials that contain recycled and regional contributions must be documented in order to determine the total percentage as products come through via the submittal process. Although there is no way to get around this, general contractors can identify and pursue the trades and materials that will have the highest contributions to these credits. Once the percentage goals for those two credits are met, it’s no longer necessary to request that information from subcontractors. Regarding materials like concrete and steel, get an estimated dollar value so something can be included in the percentage tracking to get an idea of where the project stands. After steel fabrication or concrete pouring is complete, do a “LEED close-out submittal” and replace the estimated values with actual costs. LEED does not require material cost values for these two credits to be validated. Make sure the dollar value provided is as close to accurate as possible, but it doesn’t have to be down to the exact cent.

LEED Construction Submittal Review Process
Q: How can subcontractors be held accountable for providing LEED information and product submittals in a timely manner in order to mitigate needing to circle back on missing LEED information?

A: The LEED submittal and product requirement language found in each specification section serves as the contractual leverage to get this information from subcontractors. They bid the project based on the spec book, meaning it is their contractual obligation to understand therequirements. All LEED projects should have undergone a LEED design review process, which is when the LEED requirements make their way into the spec book. The best way to ensure non-compliant products are not getting approved inproduct data submittals is to enforce that product data and LEED information must come together in one package or (at a minimum) be sent at the same time, which allows for a simultaneous review by all team members.

LEED WEp1 – Water Use Reduction

Q: Why is it necessary to review the plumbing fixture product data submittal for LEED?

A: It is imperative to validate that theselected flush/flow fixture rates match the project’s water use reduction strategy. Because the fixture rates identified in the plumbing schedule and spec book often are not the same as those issued in the submittal review process, it’s a best practice to make sure this information gets cross checked.

Hawkins Thomas is manager of sustainable construction at HITT Contracting Inc., Falls Church,Va. For more information, email hthomas@hitt-gc.com, visit www.hitt-gc.com/green or follow @twHITTr.  

More Talking Points
For additional insight on LEED credits that can be shared with onsite personnel, check out Associated Builders and Contractors’ Green Building Toolbox Talks. They help supervisors educate field employees on sustainable best practices and LEED requirements. There are 52 Toolbox Talks, each lasting 15 minutes and available online as printable PDFs in both English and Spanish. The cost ranges from $52 to $156 depending on company revenue. For more information, email greenbuilding@abc.org or visit www.greenconstructionatwork.com.

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