Article Date: 12/14/2012

Expert Offers Advice on How to Specify for a Successful LEED Project

By Steve Rizer


When writing the specifications for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building project, it is important to spell out -- clearly -- what the minimum requirements are for commissioning, Sustainable Design Consulting Senior Consultant Linda Davisson told attendees of last week’s Ecobuild America conference in Washington, D.C. “Having a Division 1 section that clearly addresses what the minimum requirements are for commissioning is highly recommended. If you just have a drawing package, then you need to make sure that it’s in your drawing package. You cannot miss the commissioning requirements because it is a requirement. You cannot pursue LEED without it.”


Davisson recommended that the commissioning agent be the one to write the Division I section [on commissioning] for the project, "so if you’re involved in the proposal development or getting the RFP [request for proposal] out on the street or helping your building owners find a commissioning agent, I would put ... in the spec report that we want you to write the Division I section,” Davisson said. “It will tend to be more air-tight. They’ll know exactly what they’re looking for.”


Davisson pointed out that if enhanced commissioning is being conducted, there are requirements for creating an operations-and-maintenance manual. “Lots and lots and lots” of U.S. General Services Administration projects are held up because such a manual is not developed, she reported.” There are a lot of pieces involved with that. Be very clear that [such a manual] needs to be developed, [that] it’s part of the contract, and [that] you don’t have anybody balking at [such a requirement later and asking,] ‘Oh, I have to do that?’”


Davisson said she is “a big proponent” of commissioning for projects in which LEED is not even being pursued. “It’s a great sell to your owner. Commissioning agents are like a third-party verification for your mechanical, engineering, and plumbing subs. They catch all kinds of things that nobody else does. If you’re doing enhanced commissioning early on in your project, they evaluate your design-development drawings, they evaluate product submittals. They catch things that your mechanical guy doesn’t. They come out to the site, and they follow through and see installation, and they see things that nobody else sees. Commissioning agents are fantastic people. They’re an incredible wealth of knowledge.” However, she cautioned that such agents’ services can be expensive.


Also included in ConstructionPro Week's Ecobuild America coverage (ConstructionPro Network member access):

  • More Advice from Sustainable Design Consulting's Linda Davisson
  • Green Building Market Expected to Surpass $200 Billion in 2016
  • ISI Official Anticipates Rapid Expansion of the Envision Rating System
  • Exhibitor News Briefs Featuring Green Seal Inc., the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, and Fuel Cells 2000

To join ConstructionPro Network, click here.



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