The Many Options for LEED Specs

How should LEED compliance be specified? The Construction Specifications Institute's Specifying Practice Group explored the options and the Group's opinions about specifying LEED.

The extensive discussion kept Group Leaders, Stutzman and Louis Medcalf, from completing the entire presentation. So everyone who signed on can view the complete presentation below. And if you have more comments, share them with the Group by adding them to this blog.

The LEED Reference Guide sets overall project goals and specific product requirements. How the specifications should be written according to the Reference Guide depends on whether the LEED Credit is a goal or a requirement. Here is how LEED distinguishes between the two.

Goals apply to the entire project and products in multiple spec sections. LEED suggests specifying goal compliance in Division 01. The advantage to this approach is that Division 01 applies to the entire project and to every spec section included in the project manual. So goals set out in Division 01 need not be repeated in every affected technical spec section.

LEED Credit MR 4 Recycled Content is a goal. The products for entire project must include 10 or 20 percent recycled content to achieve the credit. If recycled content compliance is specified in Division 01, then information about recycled content does not need to be included in every technical spec section. In fact, no single product could ensure project compliance. However, architects and engineers should specify products known to have high quantities of recycled materials to ensure the project goal can be met. It is especially important that products contributing the greatest percentage of project material cost have the greatest recycled content, possible.

Typically, LEED requirements apply to specific products. VOC requirement for low emitting materials is one example. Even though the requirement will apply to products in multiple sections, it will not apply to every spec section. The architect and engineer can determine the sections including products that must meet VOC restrictions and select and specify the products accordingly.

For requirements such as low-emitting materials, the LEED Reference Guide recommends specifying the requirements in the affected technical sections. The Guide also recommends referencing the credit requirements in Division 01 in addition to the technical sections. However, avoiding duplication is a primary CSI tenet: "Say it once."

A Suggested Uniform Approach:
Liz O'Sullivan, an independent architectural specifications writer, commented: "One challenge with specifying requirements is that LEED requirements to meet certification goals are always changing - they're moving targets." Agreed! Absolutely! The design evolves and what was believed to be possible in SD may be discovered impossible late in CDs.

The Group Leaders suggested moving all LEED goals and requirements to Division 01. Then credit compliance can be specified once in a location where all credits can be easily managed as the design progresses. To help ensure subcontractors and material suppliers are aware that LEED applies, insert a direct reference to Division 01 in the affected technical sections. Put the reference in the Summary Article so it is consistently at the beginning of every affected section.

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