First Look: LEED-CI 2009 Changes From Project Architect's Perspective

An Associate with FXFOWLE recently posted her experience in taking a LEED-CI v2.0 project and switching it over into a LEED-CI 2009 on Building Green's Live Blog.* This very balanced look highlights some of the changes that caused frustration, but also those that made the process easier (notably the use of the Licensed Professional Exemption... more on that later). The article doesn't cover anything, but it's definitely worth reading if you're considering a similar switch.

*Building Green is the parent company of, a sponsor of RealLifeLEED. I promise that this post has nothing to do with said sponsorship... it's really a good read!

FREE Unlocked LEED 2009 Checklists That Don't Suck!

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.

You may have heard me rant about the credit checklists the USGBC has released, and I've finally gotten around to doing something about it. Below you'll find links to Excel checklists for each of the five v2009 (aka v3) rating systems (...if you think I'm going to try to revamp the LEED-Homes checklist you're insane). Each prints to a single page, has an area for notes, and is COMPLETELY UNLOCKED, so if you don't like something you can edit it on your own. I use the notes all the time to keep track of consultant comments and changes... it's the best way I'm aware of for tracking changes in LEED points over time, just put a date in front of the filename and you have a snapshot in time!

NOTE: All five checklists were setup to use the whole page, and you may need to adjust the margins for them to print properly. All five use 0.0" for header and footer, .35" for top and bottom margins, and .25" for left and right margins. Admittedly, those with poor eyesight probably aren't going to like how they print, as the text gets pretty small. I would simply recommend changing it from a one page print to a two page print and adjusting the notes width to get it back to normal proportions.

New USGBC Official Checklists

In the USGBC's defense, they have released (without telling anyone that I can see) new and genuinely improved Excel checklists that feature two tabs: a one-page simplified printing option and a more detailed view similar to past editions. Unfortunately, they're still hung up on forbidding editing of any kind and for some reason have bathed the checklists in a disgusting yellow color. Some may find these new checklists preferable for their purposes though, so I've linked to those directly below for your convenience:

Do you have a pressing need for similar unprotected checklists for older LEED systems (e.g. v2)? Do my checklists stink? Let me know how to make them better by leaving a comment!

Using ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Models to Estimate 2007 Edition Reductions

If you read this post within the next five minutes you'll get our Super Bonus 2030 Challenge Code Equivalents Included free of charge!*

I've been helping our project architects put together a federal proposal right now. The DoD requires a detailed narrative based on ASHRAE 90.1-2004 to show compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005's 30% reduction requirement, but they also require us to complete a proposed LEED-NC 2009 checklist which bases points on the new ASHRAE 90.1-2007 standard.

I understand that 2007 is more stringent, but understandably, the mechanical engineer doesn't want to rework the entire baseline model for a project we haven't even been awarded yet! I decided to see if I could find any rough estimates for this online, and sort of succeeded thanks to the 2030 Challenge.

Not this one

Wrong challenge... as if anyone would want to drink Pepsi anyway.

Figuring out if you've complied with the 2030 Challenge's interim requirements is no small task, so Mr. Mazria got a few smart folks together to create a document that shows what you have to do using existing codes and standards to meet the then relevant 50% reduction in energy use over 2003 averages. Unsurprisingly, they called the document "Meeting the 2030 Challenge Through Building Codes.

Get to the Conversion Already

Luckily for us, this document features both the 2004 and 2007 ASHRAE 90.1 equivalents, and from there we can draft a very rough approximation of a conversion factor. The folks over at the 2030 Challenge wrote that exceeding the 2004 standard by 30%, and exceeding the 2007 standard by 25%, are both roughly equivalent to the interim 50% goal, so logic would dictate they felt that these are also roughly equivalent to each other.

So... running the numbers we see 25 / 30 = .8333 multiplier if you're using a 2004 reduction you wish to translate to 2007. If for some reason you needed these in reverse 30 / 25 = 1.2 multiplier to take a 2007 reduction and translate it to the 2004 standard.

I should point out that this factor should probably be taken with a grain of salt. The complexities of the modeling process, namely that the baseline is a shifting target dependent on system selection, would indicate that this is at best imprecise and at worse horrendously inaccurate. At the moment though, I suspect some of you could use such a tool for estimating points early in the design process.

If any of you modelers out there wish to tell me how wrong I am, please do so by leaving a comment for all to see!

*Technically it's always free of charge, and I've recently come to learn all Architecture 2030 publications are free to the public.**

**[EDIT 01/25/10] I originally had a "A $69.99 value!" listed as the footnote as a joke, but some alert folks over at Architecture2030 did not want readers to get the impression that Architecture 2030 charges for their publications. You'd think a non-profit institution like the USGBC would be wise to consider a similar strategy!

USGBC Has Already Released 2009 Reference Guide Corrections!

Surprise! Chalk up another big FAIL for the USGBC editing department, as mere months after the initial release of the 2009 edition reference guides we have 20 pages of corrections for the BD&C guide, 21 pages of corrections for the ID&C guide, and a mere 11 pages of corrections for the EBO&M reference guide. In a suave marketing move, they've apparently decided to switch from calling these "errata" to the less error-sounding title of "addenda".

I ♥ Internet Memes

What's worse is that the announcement basically ties you into adhering to any addenda based on the date of registration. I suppose this means I'm going to have to find, download, and save these whenever I register a project?

Building as a Teaching Tool ID Credit Requirements

While working on a proposal for a federal project (the kind where you have to explain all the LEED points you're going to get before you even get the project!), someone suggested an idea for an Innovation in Design (ID) point based on the facility being a teaching tool. This is not a school, so it's not regulated on under the credit specifically designed for that purpose (IDc3, School as a Teaching Tool).

Instead, you must follow guidance from stemming from a CIR dating back all the way to 09/24/01. This may be old news to many of you, but it took me awhile to track this down so I figured it couldn't hurt to republish here.

From a CIR dated 09/24/01:

To take advantage of the educational value of the green building features of a project and to earn a LEED point, any approach should be ACTIVELY instructional. Two of the following three elements must be included in the educational program:
  1. A comprehensive signage program built into the building's spaces to educate the occupants and visitors of the benefits of green buildings. This program may include windows to view energy-saving mechanical equipment or signs to call attention to water-conserving landscape features.
  2. The development of a manual, guideline or case study to inform the design of other buildings based on the successes of this project. This manual will be made available to the USGBC for sharing with other projects.
  3. An educational outreach program or guided tour could be developed to focus on sustainable living, using the project as an example.

Be sure you cover your bases before wasting your time on a submittal that will surely be rejected!