LEED Review Comments, Humble Pie, and Lessons Learned

Real Life LEED had the pleasure of receiving final design review comments on one of my projects back late Friday. Overall things went pretty smooth, our consultants did a great job, and the only significant credit to get denied was my own! *GASP*

The most important thing I've learned from this experience is that the review team will not necessarily point out ALL of the problems with you submission the first time around. In my defense, the first error on this particular credit (LEED-CS SSc4.3 - Alternative Transportation, Low Emitting Vehicles) largely stemmed from the fact the the USGBC supplied credit template was wrong. As a result, I committed a small rounding error on my credit template, and listed one less preferred parking spot than I needed to achieve the point.

"No problem!" I sez, and proceeded to add one preferred spot on one floor of our parking deck, re-uploaded that one sheet and the corrected credit template, and happily moved on to other issues. As that was the only thing listed in the comments, I figured we were all set.

"NOT SO!" said the final comments... In addition to the small rounding error, one of our parking deck plans did not have the spaces marked properly (I'm guessing I left a layer off when printing the PDF's), and it turns out we were about 10 spaces short in our supporting documentation, as we were for the first review, though no mention was made about this in the first review comments.

I certainly concede that the mistake was mine. I should have double checked the plans we uploaded and made sure the spaces added up appropriately regardless of the review comments we received. What's frustrating is that we now will have to submit an appeal (to the tune of $500) for a clerical error that was not caught until the final review, but c'est la vie...

LESSON LEARNED: LEED Submitter BEWARE!!! While your review comments point out problems in your documentation, they may not point out ALL of your problems!


Anonymous said...


I'm sorry to hear about that little flub. If that was the only problem, it seems as if you and your design team did a fantastic job! I'm still awaiting my first leed project, so until then, i'm living my LEED project life vicariously through you. Keep up the great updates!

As far as getting a client to "buy into" the LEED rating system, do you or your buddies use special material or financial spreadsheets to show them, especially since many owners and clients are mostly about the bottom line. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

I hope intheleed.com is still bringing you readers =)

Cheers mate!

joelmckellar said...

Pat - There was a great article titled "Green Real Estate Finance Going Mainstream" (Urban Land Green - Spring 2008 - must be a ULI member to access) that has info about banks offering discounted loans for LEED and/or EnergyStar certified buildings. The article goes on to discuss studies showing lower vacancy rates in LEED buildings, and "corporate user" surveys showing a willingness to pay premiums for green office space.

If you aren't a ULI member send me an email and I'll see what I can do.

Anonymous said...


I am actually a ULI member of the Orange County Chapter and a part of it's newly formed Sustainability Committee. I will definitely check this puppy out. There's also one out there called "The Cost of Green Revisited." If you google that one, it also has some good information specifically for LEED on a credit by credit basis.

Thanks for the info, Joel!

Anonymous said...

Similar to what happened to me. We had one credit denied, and it was one of MINE!

I used to be a lighting designer and in California, I am used to Title 24 for energy guidelines for lighting. LEED-CI v.1.0, EAp 2 accepts Title 24 as the standard, but EAc 1.1 (lighting power) references ONLY ASHRAE 90.1-2004 and I overlooked that. Title 24, as strict as it is, can allow a little more leeway in specific instances (like our project) so using Title 24 to calculation the energy savings in lighting, meant that we kicked butt: 3 points!!! But ASHRAE 90.1-2004, well, not so much: two points, or so I thought. But...

I forgot to carry through information: In the project summary, I had just used the stock number for square footage that we always quoted, which was interior square footage and rounded significantly. But ASHRAE 90.1 defines the how to determine the square footage you use for the allowed lighting power density calculations, and it was significantly more that the number I had in the project summary. The reviewers caught that, and with that number, we could only earn one point.

I now have a spread sheet with information for each credit, so I can make sure that numbers match from credit to credit, or I can explain in the narrative why the numbers are different. (If that happens.) And I am a LOT more familiar with ASHRAE 90.1 now!

Anonymous said...


I forgot to mention in my saga of the credit that we accepted the decision, even though I think I could have made a convincing argument for the larger square footage, because Silver is Silver. One point more or less wouldn't've changed the level of certification.

karina said...

I've actually just noticed that we weren't asked to clarify a credit in our design review comments, but I just found figures on one plan (some incorrect #s) I uploaded do not match the input on the submittal template (correct #s).

Is is possible to attempt to resubmit this credit at this point, even though the reviewer hasn't marked it? Or do they just wait until you have no choice at the final review so you'd be forced to pony up more $ to dispute/correct it?