Three Tips for Pursuing LEED Certification on Your Next Project

October 11, 2018

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Brasfield & Gorrie recently completed the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Center for Advanced Pediatrics (CHOA-CAP), an eight-story outpatient, non-emergency facility in Brookhaven, Georgia. Housing multiple pediatric clinics, programs, and specialists together under one roof, the center is the first of its kind in Georgia and welcomed its first patient in July 2018.

Built with sustainability in mind, the facility is on track to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) certification. Throughout the two-year project, the construction team developed key lessons learned that can benefit others leading projects seeking LEED certification.

While we worked alongside our project’s commissioning agent, Working Buildings, the Brasfield & Gorrie team was responsible for tracking numerous items required for certification, including recycled content, indoor air quality, and regional materials, among other things. For a project team to properly address the items required for LEED certification, three steps are crucial: ask questions, start early, and be organized.

Ask Questions

Ask the question, “How does seeking LEED certification affect our project team?”

It’s important to ask this when estimating the project. For example, make sure your team understands the added cost of comingled dumpsters, and make sure your subcontractors are including the appropriate recycled/regional materials to abide by the project specifications.

This question is also important to ask at project start-up to ensure your team understands the credits that are being pursued and what they entail. To achieve these credits, what steps does the team need to take monthly? Monthly photos and tracking logs are required for many credits and will require time from your project team.

Finally, ask this question at the close-out of the project. Make sure your team understands what documentation is required upon the completion of construction. You may need to provide final waste reports, a final air handling unit filter media log, or final regional material calculations.

In short, never stop asking questions to ensure that your team understands expectations. The first week of the project, our CHOA-CAP team had a working session with our commissioning agent to establish monthly expectations as well as expectations for project start-up and close-out. As a result, the entire project ran smoothly, and we expect all pursued credits to be achieved.

Start Early

This process takes time. Meet early with people involved. Make sure your team understands what is expected of them first, sit down with the entire project team (including subcontractors, architects, and engineers) second, and then divide and conquer these tasks. The earlier this process is initiated, the easier it will be, and it will become part of your everyday responsibilities. If you are not proactive and end up backtracking to gather information, this process can become a burden and affect your team’s other responsibilities.

Be Organized

Your team will need to be organized to complete this process. Take the time at the beginning of the project to set up your project files to keep your LEED certification information organized. Photos, spreadsheets, and data sheets are required for each credit, and all of this information is updated or referenced throughout the project. The more organized your team can be on the front end, the less of a burden this process will become on your daily operations. Understand what is expected of you, and then create a plan of attack to stay organized throughout the project.

Conclusion

LEED certification sets facilities apart because it indicates a high level of sustainable design and construction—a level that requires a significant amount of planning, coordination, and documentation. Asking the right questions, starting the process early, and taking an organized approach to executing the process go a long way toward ensuring a smooth process and successful completion of this pursuit.

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