ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 9 - 06/25/2009

LEED Awards Extra Credit For Regional Considerations

The LEED rating system now offers up to four bonus points if a project meets prescribed environmental benchmarks for its geographical locale. For years, Bruce S. Fowle, FAIA and senior principal at FX FOWLE in New York City, recommended that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) add regionalization as a weighted part of its LEED rating system. “Roof-mounted photovoltaics (PVs) in New York City are not as meaningful an energy saving feature as they are in the desert. Likewise, conserving water in Nevada is much more important than in other lush areas of the country,” Fowle said. This is not to say that PVs or water-saving devices should only be used in certain regions, he points out. Rather, both LEED and Fowle recognize that projects should reflect the unique environmental needs of its climate and population locale.

 

Extra Credit
Following up on discussions with regional councils, chapters and affiliates throughout the United States, the USGBC has embraced the idea of regional priority credits, or RPCs, in the newest iteration of its rating system, LEED V3 2009, which launched April 27. 

Under the updated system, a project may earn as many as four bonus points if it fulfills specific credit requirements that the USGBC, in coordination with regional chapters, has predetermined to have a greater environmental importance on that area of the country.

These regional credits are not new credits within LEED. Rather, they are bonus credits awarded for fulfillment of pre-established credits that regional USGBC chapters and councils have tagged as particularly important to their areas of the country. In essence, extra credit is given for work already done.

 

The points are sorted by zip code and then by rating system type -- New Construction, Schools, Neighborhood Design, etc. The USGBC provides downloadable spreadsheets on its website, broken down by state, that detail which credits are eligible for extra regional considerations.

 

How It Works
Each geographical region has identified six specific credits within the LEED credit family that would benefit the environment for that area. A project can earn as many as four bonus points for meeting the requirements of those pre-established credits.

 

A project is eligible to participate only if it is registered in V3 2009. Projects registered but not yet certified under V2.2, can be transferred into V3 to earn the RPCs. If a project accumulates enough credits to fulfill more than four of the regional point requirements, project leaders may choose which four credits will count towards the regional priority credits.

 

07-09 LEED Cert Scorecard

 

Regional credits are not different from the credits for any particular LEED rating system. Simply, RPCs are based on a rewards concept. And, a project may gain as many as two credits for reaching the prescribed regional credit points. For example, U.S. zip code 43202 is an urban residential area in Columbus, Ohio. Central Ohio is generally cloudy and receives an average 38.1 inches of precipitation each year. A project under the New Construction rating system in zip code 43202 may obtain bonus points (meaning two points per credit rather than just one point per credit) for the following credits: 

  • Sustainable Sites Credit 6.1: Stormwater Design, Quantity Control
  • Energy and Atmosphere Credit 2: Minimum Energy Performance (1%)
  • Materials and Resources Credit 1.1: Building Reuse – Maintain Existing Walls, Floors, and Roof (95%)
  • Materials and Resources Credit 2: Construction Waste Management (75%)
  • Materials and Resources Credit 3: Materials Reuse (5%)
  • Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 8.1: Daylight and Views – Daylight

 

The percentages listed above refer to how much of a credit threshold the project needs to meet to earn the bonus point. For the MRc2 requirement, 75 percent of the site’s construction waste needs to be recycled and/or reused on other building sites.

 

A Custom-Fit Certification
"Because environmental priorities differ among various regions of the country -- the challenges in the Southeast differ from those in the Northwest, for example -- regionally specific credits give LEED a way to directly respond to diverse, regionally grounded issues," said Brendan Owens, vice president of technical development, USGBC. "The inclusion of these regional LEED credits is the council's first step toward addressing regional environmental issues."

 

Currently, regional credits can only be awarded on projects within the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, but the USGBC plans to further develop regional awareness as it considers how to include non-U.S. locations in its regional rating system. For now, LEED’s V3 2009 regionalism directs project teams toward recognizing which aspects of green building may be most apropos for their geographical conditions and moves the certification from a one-size-fits-all program to one better tailored to a region’s particular needs.

 

The USGBC has created a PFD of frequently asked questions, which can be downloaded at http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=5732, or click here. To look up the regional point opportunities in your area, visit  http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1984, or click here.  For the latest news on LEED and Green Building, go to www.GreenBuildingInsider.com, or click here.

 

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