Turning a new shade of green with LEED v4

The owner of a homebuilding company in an area known for its natural beauty recognizes the importance of sustainability. She’s diligently worked at qualifying and promoting her jobs as certified under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), but it isn’t easy keeping up with the evolving requirements.

Case in point: A new shade of green — LEED v4 — was rolled out on November 1, 2016. Wanting to remain compliant in 2017, she mentioned the issue to her CPA. He told her that, together, they could develop some cost-effective measures to streamline the certification process.

Pending changes              

The contractor’s CPA had worked with several clients involved in eco-friendly construction and was familiar with some of the pending changes. He explained that documentation requirements have moved beyond simple checklists to a more dynamic process that demands collaborative effort and analysis.

For example, new building product disclosure and optimization credits have replaced the materials and resources credits. Qualifying for the new credits requires multiple documents from various sources. Designers need to use at least 20 different installed products from at least five different manufacturers, which requires the compilation and coordination of much documentation.

In addition, design and construction teams can earn LEED credits for incorporating energy-metering systems at the outset of a project. Documentation is required throughout design, construction and occupancy.

Plus, building teams are now encouraged to address energy and water systems early in the design phase. The goal is to model systems during design and then document how the results influenced system implementation through occupancy.

Technological assistance

The contractor needed to manage all of the complex tracking and documentation requirements efficiently. Her CPA suggested looking into buying one of several cloud-based software services that allow users to collect, store and share information using either a desktop computer or a mobile device. She could set a budget and shop for a system that offers customizable forms for specific projects, and it should perform, save and integrate calculations with related information.

The CPA also recommended that she and her project managers keep up to speed using a couple of free online resources. The first, LEED Online (https://lo.usgbc.org), is a website provided through the U.S. Green Building Council. The second, LEEDuser (http://www.leeduser.com), is a subscription-based informational source and discussion forum that fields LEED-related questions.

Confident compliance

Armed with this advice, the contractor continued to learn about LEED v4 and eventually bought a suitable software system. Now, with the new year rolling along, she feels confident in her construction company’s ability to stay compliant with minimal disruptions to its job schedules.