Teran Residence – the LEED project checklist

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We’ve arranged the initial meeting with our selected Provider and reviewed the project history and construction documents. The LEED for Homes Project Checklist was reviewed, credit by credit. All prerequisites were checked off and the low hanging credits selected. This gave us an initial credit point total to compare with the required baseline points for the Certified level. Large homes get hammered by the Home Size Adjustment that is automatically calculated based on the number of bedrooms and total square footage of the home.

Certified level requires achieving a minimum 36.5 credit points for a baseline 4 bedroom home and an allowable size of 2,600 sf. Our project has 4 bedrooms at 4,080 sf. The Home Size Adjustment calculator lifted the minimum credit points required for the Certified level from 36.5 to 56.5. Another OUCH! A crucial area addressed in the initial meeting was the Durability Inspection Checklist.

Durability is a prominent and mandatory part of LEED for Homes in that it requires certain aspects of the home be detailed with sustainable strategies that address the durability and life of a home’s components – roof, walls, weatherproofing, etc. Additional measures may be required subject to regional issues such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, pests, soil conditions, climate, etc. After this initial review meeting, we’ve assessed the situation and all parties feel the project is in great shape for success.

In order to better understand the sustainable strategies as related to the construction process, let’s take a quick summary review of the LEED for Homes Project Checklist. A copy of the blank LEED for Homes Project Checklist (MS Excel xls format) can be downloaded from USGBC here.

The LEED for Homes Project Checklist has a series of tabs (sheets) located at the bottom of the spreadsheet. The first tab is the Project Summary where relevant and basic is manually entered. Enter the number of bedrooms and floor area (calculated outside to outside of exterior walls and includes any space that can be legally used as a bedroom, including unfinished areas) and the Home Size Adjustment automatically calculates the number of credit points that must be added to or subtracted from the targeted level of certification. The Provider offered recommendations for the EA pathway best suited for the project and, additionally, the HERS Index rating information.

The second tab is the heart and soul of the rating system – the LEED for Homes Project Checklist. This is where the entire team determines if all the prerequisites can be achieved and evaluates what optional credits the project should pursue. Three columns, “YES” “MAYBE” and “NO”, are provided adjacent to the column that lists the points available for any specific credit. As the project team goes thru the categories, credit by credit, the Project Total located at the top of the sheet populates, provides an instant summary of the preliminary “YES” and “MAYBE” points to compare with the points required. The checklist also lists, in each category header, the maximum points allowed and the minimum points required for that particular category. Taking a minute to skip down the list of tabs is the LEED for Homes Simplified Project Checklist. This sheet is automatically populated by the working checklist to provide a summary report without all the details offered by the working checklist.

Given the importance of the mandated Durability Inspection Checklist to sustainable strategies related to specific credits, it’s advantageous to simultaneously work with both the Project Checklist and Durability Checklist. A credit could possibly apply to addressing durability issues and, likewise, it’s possible that addressing durability issues could be applied to credit achievement. Also, several of the Durability categories are regulated by the Durability Evaluation Form. This is where Site, Climate and other issues are recorded and will determine the extent and number of strategies per issue are required to address regional characteristics related to radon, soils, pests, heating/cooling days, wind, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. It’s very important that we enter this data early in order to achieve the required degree of durability. The spreadsheet includes a Durability Guidelines summary of instructions and valuable information about why durability is important and how to effectively address durability concerns. An Example Durability Strategies tab includes sample strategies for all Durability Categories. The LEED for Homes Project Checklist devotes (4) sheets to Durability – it is that important, as well it should be.

LEED for Homes allows the project team to be accountable for verifying certain credits via the Accountability Form. A mandated list of credits is provided where a member of the project team signs off verifying requirements of the credit had been properly designed and/or installed. An Accountability Form Creator Tool is available for the project team to add whatever disciplines are necessary for their project.

The Calculator for Percent Reduction in Outdoor Water Demand is a tool that must be used by the landscape architect or landscape contractor to ensure their design meets the requirements for reducing the amount of water used for landscaping as selected in the Project Checklist. These calculations had to be done as early as possible due to the amount of time required for verification.

This concludes a brief overview of the initial process we conducted. As you can see, it is not a difficult task, but one made complicated by all the forms, interaction of credits as well as the coordination and interaction of project team members. To ensure every member of the project team fully understood their role critical to the success of this project, a LEED Project Checklist Guideline document was prepared and forwarded to every contractor, material supplier, vendor and other entities that provided any service to the project. The importance of an informed and integrated project team cannot be overstated.

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