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Approach to LEED for Existing Buildings
August 7, 2010

Our approach to LEED certification has been formed through our experience on a number of design and construction projects and LEED certification efforts. This article will outline our approach to attempting LEED certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System.     

Step One describes the need and approach to Information Gathering.  This important first step allows us to understand the systems and characteristics of building and your organizational needs and expectations.

Step Two describes Credit Selection and Project Team Assignment.  This step serves as strategy development as we assist in establishing your goals and determining the best way to achieve them based on the information gathered in Step One. 

Step Three describes the implementation of our strategy.  Regardless of the LEED rating system used or the credits selected, our management structure, communication channels, quality control measures and role as LEED On-line project administer will remain consistent and effective.

Step Four describes the Reporting and Certification process we will use.  A consistent method that includes multiple levels of oversight and input is crucial in assuring the target credits are achieved.

Step One � Information Gathering

Each LEED project is unique with challenges and opportunities. This is why the First Step is Information Gathering. We take nothing for granted when we examine a new building and the needs of a new client.  This allows flexibility to innovate and tailor solutions that best capture the strengths and embedded opportunities in each facility.   This approach also gives our clients the opportunity to fully understand the costs and benefits of LEED certification.

         There are nine Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) that must be satisfied in order to be eligible for certification under LEED for Existing Buildings.  Most of the MPRs consist of evaluating existing operating procedures and incorporating new concepts or developing new written policies (Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 1 and 3, Materials & Resources Prerequisite 1 and 2, and Indoor Environmental Quality Prerequisite 2 and 3).  The remaining MPRs require meeting certain goals, however these are often met by either (i) compliance with existing federal, state, and local building-related environmental laws and regulations, or (ii) satisfying the targeted LEED credits.

        To achieve LEED EB certification, 40 LEED points must earned (Silver requires 50, Gold requires 60 and Platinum requires 80).  It is important to select the appropriate credits to attempt early in the process in order to develop a comprehensive strategy.  Sometimes,rolex falsi satisfying one credit will help in satisfying another.  For example, installing photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of your facility as part of an on-site renewable energy system will assist in achieving the Heat Island Reduction-Roof credit.  Additionally, to achieve 50 LEED points, optimizing energy efficiency performance (EA Credit 1) must be an element in any strategy as up to 18 LEED points are available.  EA Credit 1 requires a full 12 months performance period of measured energy data to show compliance with the Energy Star rating.  Therefore, in order to achieve LEED Certification within a reasonable time frame, a comprehensive Energy Study is crucial so energy saving measures can be implemented.

            Energy Studies and Operation Audits.      Energy studies will determine the baseline efficiency of the existing energy systems and identify where and how improvements can be made.  Carbon-Key can guide you through this process.  We often partner with to carry out the performance of energy studies. With a diverse client base, including Fortune 100 companies, state, county, and local municipalities, they have built a depth of understanding of energy use and conservation measures unsurpassed by most in the engineering firms in the industry.

          In addition to the Energy Studies, other similar audits will be required during the initial Information Gathering with respect to facility water use and performance, storm water quantities, occupant commuting habits, purchasing practices, solid waste management, indoor air quality and ventilation and cleaning and maintenance practice. Each of these audits will determine the amount of effort and cost that will be required to achieve the corresponding LEED credits.  Audits will require an examination of utility bills and billing/purchasing records, interviews of occupants, facilities managers and maintenance crews, and on-site walk-through examinations.  Our years of experience and success on LEED projects gives us a step up over the competition in our ability to guide your staff through these necessary surveys.

 Assessments of Results and Regulations.       Analysis of audit and energy study results in combination with the local, state and federal laws and regulations will give our team insight in formulating a comprehensive strategy. Not only can we assist in addressing areas of noncompliance but we can also identify the �low hanging fruit� to accumulate points with minimal effort and cost as well as identify the private and public incentive and funding sources to off-set the costs of the more expensive elements of our strategy.  Your organization will benefit from our experience because we know the important questions to ask and where to find the answers.  

Step Two- Strategy Development

           There are 110 possible points under the LEED EB rating system and after our assessment of your facility we will develop an action plan targeting the credits that fit most naturally.  Our team will guide your staff and maintenance crews in implementing our straightforward plan of action.

Credit Selection.     The results of the Energy Study and other audits, the examination of the funding and incentive opportunities, and the physical characteristics of your building are all important elements in the credit selection process. With your input, we will identify the credits we expect to achieve within a reasonable budget and timeline.  For example, up to 15 LEED points can be earned in the Sustainable Site Credit 4 (Alternative Commuting Transportation), however the likelihood of reducing daily commuter trips 75%  (as required for the full 15 points) depends on the existing mass transit local infrastructure, distance of the facility from where the majority of the occupants live, and willingness of occupants to adjust their commuting habits.  Once our 40, 50, 60 or 80 Point Strategy is in place we will identify the appropriate members of your staff and our professionals to form the project teams that will execute the strategy and prepare the necessary documentation. 

Project Team Assignment.  Our team consists of outstanding professionals diversely experienced in a variety of public and private sector projects.  Additionally, three of our team members are LEED Accredited Professionals and one a LEED Green Associate.  This means at every level of the project team there will be an in depth understanding of the LEED credit requirements and certification process. We will assemble our project teams to match the skill sets and expertise with the specific tasks.

Step Three � Implementation

         The level of investment made in high performance and sustainable systems during the design and construction of your building, and its current efficiency performance will determine how far the facility is from satisfying the credit requirements under LEED EB.  The majority of work-hours and resources will be directed at addressing this gap by managing the action plan we develop.  In some cases, measuring and documenting system performance during the performance period will earn credits,replica rolex and after working on a number of LEED projects, we are experienced at satisfying credit requirements with proper documentation.  We are also experienced at training facility maintenance crews (in fact, we often train engineers, architects and construction professionals in sustainability techniques and LEED exam preparation) and this is a crucial component to the requirements of several credits and specifically the Energy and Atmosphere commissioning credits 2.2 and 2.3. However, significant installations and equipment upgrades may also be needed or advantageous and this is where our experience becomes a significant value-add.  For example:

         Installing onsite renewable energy may be a worthwhile investment because it will contribute to several credits, lower energy costs and potentially pay for itself over a reasonable timeframe.  We are intimately familiar with this marketplace and our experience with advising clients on solar power projects will ensure that your organization maximizes the value of these efforts.

         An investment in water meters and indoor plumbing fixtures may earn up to seven LEED points under Water Efficiency credits 1 and 2; our engineers and architects will contribute valuable insight to ensure these systems generate real savings.

         Investing in sustainable cleaning products and equipment may earn up to six LEED points under Indoor Environmental Quality credits 3.1 � 3.6, and coordinating alternative commuting options for building occupants may earn up to 15 LEED points under Sustainable Sites credit 4.  We have successfully advised clients pursuing these tasks in prior projects. 

These more significant projects must be managed and executed by an organized team of experts.  The challenge lies in creating an environment where complex projects can benefit from the expertise and input from various sources throughout our company and your organization.  This requires an organized and cohesive working group that is accessible to you.

As your consultant and LEED on-line Project Administer we will oversee the project teams implementing the action plan.  We will also assign a Quality Assurance Officer, who will serve as an additional layer of oversight to ensure that your project is receiving the very best service possible. 

Step Four � Reporting and Certification

           LEED-Online is the primary resource for managing the LEED documentation process. Certification under LEED EB requires the submission of the LEED-Online documentation for the general project, the Minimum Project Requirements and the pursued LEED credits, and an additional Project Narrative.  Our track record of success on numerous LEED projects with various buildings types and certification levels demonstrates our expertise and ability to successfully guide your project through to LEED certification.  However, it is important to note that LEED certification is never guaranteed (and any such guarantee would be a misrepresentation and betray inexperience with the LEED rating system).  If such guarantee were possible, it would undermine the integrity of third party verification.

The first step towards certification is registering your facility with the Green Building Certification Institute (�GBCI�). This gives our team and your staff access to important software, communication with the GBCI and the LEED-Online platform.  During the course of the project, the project teams will upload the documentation and records, which include the required measurement and verification documents, system models and analyses, site photographs and any other documentation required by the reference guide, onto LEED On-line.  The Quality Assurance Officer will verify the submissions as each credit is completed. When all of the credits are completed,rolex replica they will be shepherded though the on-line certification process after a third and final review by the Project Administrator.   This process assures that project details have been entered accurately and allows for a multilevel review at different stages of the overall effort.  This flexible approach is important because so many of the credits affect one another and the documentation will inevitably evolve throughout the process.

The Project Narrative must describe the project summary and scope, the building and site and the building occupancy and usage.  The project teams will generate the Project Narrative for review by the Quality Assurance Officer and then it will be passed up to the Project Administrator for final review and submission. This emphasis on input from all levels of the project team assures that the Project Narrative will capture the unique characteristics and challenges of your building and that it will satisfy the submission requirement. 

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