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LEED Rescue: How do projects get into trouble, and how do they get out? Jodie Clarke, LEED AP BD+C Responds

Jodie-web I enjoy fixing things. Maybe that’s why I’ve been assigned to so many projects that have found themselves in need of a LEED rescue. It can happen to anyone. LEED certification is but one piece of the green building design and construction process and sometimes it falls to the wayside. The best way to deal with LEED Emergencies is to avoid one in the first place, through prevention; beyond that there are some basic tips to dealing with an emergency if one arises.

 Prevention Tips:

  • Focus on green design. A project that prioritizes building performance first will be well positioned for LEED certification. If you have a green project and dismissed LEED earlier, take another look. It may not be much of a stretch to earn the most widely used and recognized “green building brand” for your work.
  • Facilitate an integrated team. This is the least costly and most efficient way to achieve certification. If everyone on the team understands what LEED is and their role in achieving certification, you’ll have fewer change orders, less cost and a more efficient project.
  • Keep documentation organized. Many LEED rescue projects are the result of everyone doing the right thing but no one keeping track of the big picture. Download a scorecard from the USGBC website and track potential points. Keep cut sheets and costs of materials, site plans and floor plans, even if you don’t think that credit is achievable. You never know. This information is especially critical if an outside consultant needs to be called in (such as moi!).
  • Talk about it early. We have been brought in by owners and design teams to perform LEED analysis both early and late in projects. Even if LEED certification isn’t a clear goal from the start, early feasibility analysis is a good investment. It is always less expensive to identify where issues might arise and make decisions early. Even those buildings that are designed to be “conventional” can benefit from using LEED to inform the design.

SuperJodie Rescue Tips:


  • Stop and communicate with your team. Frequently, additional documentation will be required. Make sure everyone understands the required work and timeline. This is also an opportunity to identify new LEED points that your project might qualify for that hadn’t been identified at the start. Strange, but true.
  • Set internal goals and deadlines. It is easiest when the design team documents LEED credits as close to the end of design as possible and when contractors collect information before they leave the project site.
  • Know when to call in for help. Even experienced teams run out of time or need technical assistance. I’ve done everything from conducting a simple review and providing recommendations, to completing most of the project's LEED documentation.  Overwhelmed contractors can, and do,  ask us for assistance with their specific LEED responsibilities.
  • Jodie Clarke, CSBA, LEED AP BD+C and Project Associate at O’Brien & Company provides expert LEED consulting for commercial, institutional and other large scale green building projects. This article is based on one on the same subject Clarke authored for the O’Brien & Company newsletter in February 2011.

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