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September 9, 2011 -
Design & Construction
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management. Today’s tip is to be aware of potential pitfalls when trying to earn LEED certification for an interior space.
A common pitfall in pursuing LEED certification is that the actual awarding of certification comes after move-in. There is always the possibility that all credits will not be approved and a project could fall a point or two short of its target. It's best to plan to have a margin of a couple of extra points just in case. Also, credit appeals can extend the certification period well beyond project completion and contractor close-out, which can make locating requested project information challenging. All LEED submittal data should be obtained early along with shop drawings.
Some other of the most common LEED pitfalls are added costs, both soft and hard, and additional time compared to the traditional design and construction process. For example, a two-week air flush-out needs to be built into the schedule, as well as time for enhanced commissioning. If a planned flush-out becomes impractical because of summer or winter weather, the alternate is air testing, which is not a guaranteed point despite the need to pay test fees.
Slab curing and installation of carpeting with low VOC adhesive may also require additional time. The lesson here is to plan well in advance and schedule the sequencing of the work, such as painting before installing carpet and ceiling tiles to ensure good indoor air quality later, in a thoughtful manner.
Finally, there are risks of product failure. With hundreds of new green building products hitting the market every day, many are not proven. "Roadoyl" was a light paving alternative to asphalt introduced 10 years ago. After five years it deteriorated badly but the manufacturer was no longer in business. When bamboo flooring made its market debut, it was beautiful, cost-effective and sustainable. But all manufactured bamboo flooring is not created equal and softer products are prone to unsightly high-heel marks.
While it's always important to be careful of manufacturers that make unsubstantiated claims, there are trustworthy certifications for sustainable products from third parties such as Green Seal and Greenguard.