Free Custom 500 Mile Maps: MRc5 - Regional Materials

A few years ago I made a photoshop file where you could place a 500 mile circle around any part of the US to make a quick reference to see if a manufacturing or extraction location:

500 Miles of Charleston Love

Thanks to my colleague Allen Taylor at LS3P ASSOCIATES LTD for sending out a link to a free online "Radius Around Point" tool where you can draw any size ring around any location on the globe. This site is good in that it lets you draw multiple points (perhaps helpful for manufacturers), but otherwise it's limited by the use of a small box, clunky navigation, and no save or print features. It also didn't work well in my browser (Google Chrome), so I thought I'd check to see if there any better options.

A short search yielded a better option in the form of the "no particular title" tool, which has a much larger screen, allows you to zoom with the mousewheel, and is generally easier to use. Unfortunately it also does not have any embedded print or save tools, but this map is big enough and the page uncluttered enough to just print the whole thing using your browser. Even more helpful is that you can pick up the center of the circle and move it without having to start from scratch. Here's a screen grab:

Sugar for your Eyeballs

I should point out that, though having nothing to do whatsoever with the LEED project you're working on, whoever put together the radius map also put together a bunch of other interesting modifications using google maps, including one heatmap showing the density of fast food restaurants in the US.

Potentially practical, but not helpful in it's current form is a driving distance radius map, where from any point it will show the extents of a circle not as the crow flies but as a car drives (right now set only at 30 miles). With some tweaking this could end up helping with SSc4.1, Public Transportation Access documentation. I know google has a 'pedestrian directions' feature, and if I can get the developer to set this in 1/4 mile and 1/2 mile increments it could quickly support your documentation in that credit. If this happens I'll be sure to let you know.

Any other magic map mathematic wizardry I may have missed? Please let us know by sharing a link in the comments!

NOTE - 05.06.09 - Many thanks to the readers who provided links to a number of other 'circle' map websites. Just click on the link below that says something like "6 Comments" to see what else is out there.

Pre-LEED 2009 USGBC/GBCI Website Blackout

Just wanted to forward the message that all USGBC and GBCI hosted websites, including LEED-Online, will be down for the count from 10 pm EDT on Friday, April 24th through 1 am EDT on Monday, April 27th in order to load up the new software for LEED 2009 systems.

Do me a favor and let's all cross our fingers, pray to our various god(s), and generally send out good technology vibes in the hopes that when this is all finished that the notoriously faulty online portals will be a thing of the past! Of course, Real Life LEED will still be here to help you through your withdrawal...

It's Official: 100,000 LEED AP's Worldwide!

Just noticed an email from R. Fed last night touting membership and accreditation increases in a down economy:

As of April 2009, USGBC is proud to count 20,000 organizations among its national membership, and more than 100,000 LEED Accredited Professionals around the globe. Since January 1, 2009, we have broken records every month in new memberships and new LEED AP candidates – exceeding our best projections and demonstrating that green building, and the green movement, are here to stay.

As you might imagine, there was a huge surge in the past few months due in large part to the roll out of LEED 2009. I've been loosely tracking the figures as they're released in the USGBC Update emails I receive intermittently for the past year or so... here's a look at the spike:

I'm curious to hear the reader response to this landmark... please leave a comment.

LEED 2009 Regional Credits Now Available

As of today, regional priority (RP) credits can now be found on the USGBC website for each state in a protected (what else?) excel format. For each state file there's a tab for all programs within the v3 system (LEED-NC, LEED-CS, LEED-Schools, LEED-CI, and LEED-EB:O&M).

Eligible points are determined via zip code, and from what I can tell it's a bit more complex than the simple "urban/rural" split that was rumored earlier.

I haven't looked at this in great detail yet, deciding instead to use my home state of South Carolina and the home state of most of my readers, California, to try to make sense of what's going on...

Get Down with the Breakdown

The Chosen Ones

South Carolina has two groups of bonus points, though they only really differ by a single credit:

  • Group 1 - Urbanish?
    • SSc4.1 - Alternative Transportation, Public Transportation Access
    • SSc6.1 -Stormwater Design, Quantity Control
    • WEc3 (40%) - Water Use Reduction
    • EAc1 (28% new/ 24% renovation) - Optimize Energy Performance
    • EAc2 (1 %) - On-Site Renewable Energy
    • EQc7.1 - Thermal Comfort, Design
  • Group 2 - Ruralish?
    • SSc6.1 - Stormwater Design, Quantity Control
    • WEc3 (40%) - Water Use Reduction
    • EAc1 (28% new/ 24% renovation) - Optimize Energy Performance
    • EAc2 (1 %) - On-Site Renewable Energy
    • EQc7.1 - Thermal Comfort, Design
    • MRc2 (50%) - Construction Waste Management

As you can see, the bonus points for SC are identical with the exception that certain zip codes can earn more points focusing on transportation access while others should focus more strongly on reducing waste to the landfill during construction. Looking briefly at California's options, there are four separate groups instead of just two.

Living in the Charleston area, my first take on these points is that they are for the most part representative of our needs. Charleston is working to build capacity for our bus system and is looking into commuter/light rail options (SSc4.1). Flooding after storms (or just a really high tide for that matter) is a huge issue on the penninsula (SSc6.2). Like much of the nation, we're fighting the approval of new coal fired plants, and part of that argument is that efficiency (EAc1) and renewable sources (EAc2) can negate the need for more large scale polluters. Landfill space is becoming a premium (MRc2) with one of our major local C&D sites shutting down in less than two months. The only one I can't quite figure is the need for a bonus point for EQc7.1, Thermal Comfort, Design. I think there are plenty of other options that would be a better fit, and am curious to hear the reasoning behind this choice. On the whole though, well selected!

The Great Divide?

Things really start go it interesting when you try to figure out what the dividing lines were for one group over the other. I started by taking what I figured to be the 'urban' group (the one with a bonus for alternative transportation access) and painstakingly marking those on a zip code map of SC. About an hour into the process I noticed that many zip codes are listed for BOTH groups, making my efforts incorrect and completely worthless. See for yourself:

Utterly Useless

LEGEND - The orange on this map indicates an hour of my time that I'll never get back

At this point I can't make heads or tails of how zip codes where placed in one category or another. Quite a few lucky zip codes effectively have 7 regional priority options instead of six. I'm not sure if this is a mistake or intentional (it doesn't seem to have occurred in the California spreadsheet), so we'll have to wait and see what comes down from national on this subject. From what I can tell there seems to be a distinction between zip codes that are completely urban (don't ask me how they defined 'urban), those that are completely rural, and those that contain elements of both. I'd like to point out that it's very difficult to discern patterns from a list of zip codes, so I could be off on the whole urban/rural thing to begin with. There's not exactly any explanation I've been able to find on the subject.

Finally, people working on foreign projects won't receive much help here either. I would guess that they're not eligible for regional points at this time, and will update you once/if I hear otherwise.

Could you gleam some extraordinary insight into your state's RP credits? Think they're a good/bad fit for the issues of your region? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Corralling Contractors (LEED Submittals)

A recent article on the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) blog titled LEED, Specs, and the Contractor builds on a previous post I put together awhile ago.

The Contractor Doesn't Take Crap from Nobody

Just try getting a VOC submittal from this guy!

I bring this up again because their post is more useful in that it contains links to a standardized Materials Credit Documentation Sheet and a sample manufacturer's claim letter that many of you could probably use. The credit documentation sheet is just a single form that you can require the contractor to fill out for each product covered under the Materials and Resources (MR) and Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) categories. This helps to make it clear what exactly is needed to show compliance with each credit, and the architect will be able to review submittals for LEED compliance without digging through a bunch of attached documents. It may be necessary to designate which "steps" (see form) apply to each product to avoid confusion and unnecessary work on the part of the contractor.

The CSI post contains more useful advice than what I've discussed here, so check it out! Also, you should thank Richard Moore of Richard Moore Environmental Consulting for making these forms publicly available.

Aware of any other tools or tips that helped your team gather the necessary documentation for these credits? Please let the world know by leaving a comment!

Unofficial .XLS Version of the LEED-NC v3.0 Checklist Available Online

UPDATE (07.15.10): The USGBC has now updated the official checklists incorporating pretty much all of the features called for in the post and from your comments! Check out this post for direct links to each of the checklists that are now unlocked, feature a notes section, and highlight whether the credit is part of the design or construction review.

UPDATE (01.25.10): I've created much improved unprotected versions of the v3 checklists, and linked to a set of slightly better than previously reported official USGBC checklists on this post!

In the comments of the post featuring 7 Reasons the New PDF LEED Checklists Stink, my new best friend Joe Malone, LEED AP just posted a link to a LEED-NC v3.0 excel spreadsheet that I'm sure many of you will want to use. I checked the USGBC website to see if they were sticking with the horrendous PDF versions but could not yet find any at all. In their defense, the system has not even been launched yet, but I'm curious to see if they stick with PDF or switch back to the old useful Excel version.

NOTE - 04.07.09 - I needed to use this for the first time today and found it a bit 'buggy' for lack of a better word. It worked for the most part but had trouble saving and re-sizing in Excel. Also, this is based of a protected .xls file. Though still useful, I'm looking into posting a completely unprotected (and one page... Go TREES!) version in the near future. I'll be sure to update this post if/when that happens.

Here's the file!

Obama Passes LEED AP Exam!

NOTE - 04.06.09 - While most could figure it out on April 1st, April Fool's jokes aren't on everyone's minds a few days later, and Google has a long memory. For that reason I'd like to confirm that the following is a joke (as if I do real reporting here anyway), propagated and distributed by sarcastic chaps such as myself and those credited below. A happy April to you all!

Via 4specs discussion boards and LiveOaks.

"The White House announced today that President Obama passed the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED NC v2.2 accreditation examination, and is now a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP). White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the President got his AP because he strongly believes that green building and the LEED system are critical to stimulating a green economic recovery, reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil, and mobilizing the international community to meet the challenge of global climate change.
"Becoming a LEED AP is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life" said President Obama. "I decided that now was the time to get my AP, especially in light of the upcoming changes to USGBC's credentialing system... Green building is right for our economy, right for our health care system, and right for our future. LEED points the way towards the development of truly regenerative and sustainable communities, and now that I have my AP, I'm confident that I'm prepared for the job of rebuilding our country", the President added. "I learned all about LEED from my daughters Sasha and Malia, who attend the Sidwell School, the first LEED Platinum certified school. Malia persuaded me to become a LEED AP; she even registered me for the exam herself."

Obama Passes LEED AP Exam

Please don't sue me Shepherd!

USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi congratulated the President on this outstanding achievement. "It's impressive that President Obama found the time to study for and pass the exam while evaluating and making tough policy decisions about the nation's financial and automobile industry crises, the situation in Afghanistan, and preparing for his trip to the G20 summit", said Mr. Fedrizzi. "Many others study for months, and have difficulty passing the first time. USGBC is proud to count Mr. Obama as the first President of any country as a LEED AP", added Mr. Fedrizzi."

I wish I could take credit for this scoop, but all of that goes to Mr. Steven Bruneel, AIA, CSI-CDT, LEED-AP! Thanks to Chris as well for the head's up!