Teran Residence – the LEED process overview

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Another reason this project is probably not a typical model for illustrating the LEED for Homes process is due to the fact the builder, being both a design and build company, interfaced directly with the client, providing project design, construction documents and construction activities. This circumvents the usual role of the architect and eliminates the initial disconnect between client and builder, making the process more transparent and fluid.

This is not meant to diminish the role of an architect. Quite the contrary, the architect can provide value and needed professional services to their clients. It’s just a fact there are many capable and talented design/build companies available. However, one advantage a design/build company may have over the traditional architectural firm is that the designer is the builder, and the builder is the designer – they readily know what does and doesn’t work, removing conflicts between architect and builder. The custom residential design/build firm offers respectable levels of equity to both parties.

LEED for Homes has a unique set of differences from all other LEED rating systems. First, the project team registers the project with USGBC, not GBCI. This is the one and only communication the project team will ever have with USGBC, and absolutely none with GBCI. Second, LEED Online is not available to LEED for Homes projects – digital or hard copy document submittals only. Third, and most importantly, is the verification process. USGBC hands this responsibility to, not GBCI, but another third party, the LEED for Homes Provider. Providers, under the control of USGBC, are responsible for working with LEED for Homes projects and administering a team of Green Raters who, together with the Provider organization, verify that homes are built to meet the requirements of the LEED for Homes Rating System. Builders or developers must contact a LEED Green Rater organization.

After it has been agreed to seek LEED for Homes certification, the builder should contract with a LEED for Homes Provider. With the Provider established and a meeting to review the project completed, the project team should register the project with USGBC. During registration, the name of the Provider must be selected from a list of USGBC approved Providers. Fill out the remaining information, pay the registration fee and USGBC will forward registration verification with an access code, specific to this project. This access code can be shared with other project team members.

With or without the assistance of the Provider, the project team will begin the review of the LEED for Homes Project Checklist. Although not required at this point, it is recommended the builder meet with the LEED for Homes Provider if they are unfamiliar with the certification process. A capable Provider can save the builder enough money in the initial meeting to offset their fees by offering guidance for no cost or low cost credits and creative credit management. At some point, the Project Checklist will be complete enough to establish the credits necessary to achieve the level of certification targeted. The Project Checklist should be given to the Provider for review and tweaked as necessary. When all parties are comfortable the pathway to success has been defined, the construction documents should be revised to reflect any revisions necessary to implement sustainable credit strategies. With this completed, construction can begin.

There are two mandatory inspections required by the Provider. Independent of the Provider is the third party verification team – the Green Raters. The Provider is under the control of USGBC and the Green Raters are under the control of the Provider. The Green Raters verify, either by mandated on-site inspections or review of documents, photographs and calculations, compliance with all requirements of the prerequisites and credits. They report their findings to the Provider for review, who in turn reports their decision to USGBC that the project has or has not met the requirements for certification. USGBC then reviews the Provider’s report and issues the final ruling. The first mandatory on-site inspection is performed after installation of insulation and prior to installation of the drywall. Remedial action by the builder will follow, if necessary. The final on-site inspection is scheduled at the completion of the project. Additionally, a blower door test must be conducted.

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