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Joel McKellar, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: joelmckellar

Post Number: 11
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 01:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

How have you specified the MR 3-7 credit requirments (recycled content, regional materials, FSC wood, etc.)? We want our contractor to purchase with these in mind to get as many as possible, but are having a hard time figuring out just how strong a spec to write...


1. We can't be sure what combination of materials will be required to achieve 20% of total cost. For instance the recycled content of steel could change batch to batch, and prices are constantly changing.

2. We can't be sure they will be able to achieve the credit at all until the numbers come in.

3. We would like to allow the contractor freedom to choose which is the best combination. In some cases, high recycled content and regional materials are both available but mutually exclusive...

4. Where does the burden of achieving a credit fall? Is it the architect's responsibility or the contractors?

We're pretty comfortable with the (pre-selected) contractor right now, and are giving them appropriate freedom. We have set project goals, and done a fair share of the legwork sourcing materials, but all I can think about is the next project which could be public and going to the lowest bidder...

Ultimately the is is how do you specify a requirement that may or may not be achievable? This also applies to waste management credits.

Any help/thoughts/advice greatly appreciated.
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEEDŽ-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 101
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 02:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Partial answers, regarding steel, and overall performance clauses:


For steel there is a rule of thumb you can always claim 25% without documentation. Per MASTERSPEC editor's notes for 051200:

Retain one of two paragraphs and subparagraphs below if recycled content is required for LEED-NC or LEED-CI Credits MR 4.1 and MR 4.2. USGBC allows a default value of 25 percent to be used for steel, without documentation; higher percentages can be claimed if they are supported by appropriate documentation. The Steel Recycling Institute indicates that hollow structural shapes, pipe, and steel plates are made by the basic oxygen furnace method, which typically has 23 percent postconsumer recycled content and 1.5 percent preconsumer recycled content, and rolled structural shapes are made by the electric arc furnace method, which typically has 57.5 percent postconsumer recycled content and 6.5 percent preconsumer recycled content.

A. Recycled Content of Steel Products: Provide products with an average recycled content of steel products so postconsumer recycled content plus one-half of preconsumer recycled content is not less than [25] [50] [60] <Insert number> percent.

B. Recycled Content of Steel Products: Provide products with an average recycled content of steel products so postconsumer recycled content plus one-half of preconsumer recycled content is not less than the following:

1. W-Shapes: [60] <Insert number> percent.
2. Channels, Angles[, M] [, S]-Shapes: [60] <Insert number> percent.
3. Plate and Bar: [25] <Insert number> percent.
4. Cold-Formed Hollow Structural Sections: [25] <Insert number> percent.
5. Steel Pipe: [25] <Insert number> percent.
6. <Insert Category Name>: <Insert number> percent.
7. All Other Steel Materials: [25] <Insert number> percent.


The military/federal govt guide specs have recently been updated to reflect their incorporation of LEED (instead of SPiRiT). These guide specs are very performance/descriptive oriented and typically never mention products by name, so it is a good place to look for another way of doing this beyond MASTERSPEC. Go to http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_org.php?o=70, scroll down to 01 33 29 "LEED(TM) Documentation", click the PDF, then look at 1.6.2 as an example. There are two overall options in this paragraph, noted by the outer square brackets []. The first one puts it on the contractor to make sure the total adds up to the required amount for the LEED credit. This is most of the time in my opinion, for how are we ever to know during design phase what the total exact cost of all materials will be (especially on public projects), and then what exact percentage of that number will be recycled, and considering post/pre-consumer breakdown? The second bracket option would be applicable if we were nearly omniscient.

The final answer will only be known when receipts are all totalled up, which is why MR credits are all construction phase submittals except the storage and collection of recyclables.
Russ Hinkle, AIA, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rhinkle

Post Number: 34
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 02:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Have the contractor collect recycled content and local regional information from ALL the subcontractors. Use a standard form and have it as part of the pay application (the will provide the information if it is tied to them getting paid).

Two reasons for this:
1) Using the real cost of materials instead of the default 45% will most likely give you a higher percentage has been my experience.
2) You will be suprised how many products now have this information.

It also helps get the entire team in the mind set that LEED is important on this project. Better follow through on all aspects.

The CM's or captured GC's I have been involved with had a master spreadsheet with a different tab for each Work Category. The collected data throughout the project and were able to give us great information at the end that got us a couple ID credits for greatly exceeding.

I have done this on two projects that are certified. The other projects were this was not done have been a struggle to get to the one point.
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 659
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 02:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

nearly every project I used to work on got this point. it is the Contractor's responsibility if the Contractor "buys in" to the LEED process on the job. the Owner, however, has to make it clear (and by extension you do too, at the pre-bid conference) that the LEED rating is not an optional event on the project. the contractor will have to allocate personnel to monitor everything. the LEED checklist for the project will suggest a pathway that will achieve the LEED rating, but I would not make that pathway absolutely mandatory if the contractor can meet the rating using other credits.

it is most definitely NOT the Architect's responsibility unless you were foolish enough to guarantee LEED status as part of your contract for services.

as stated above, the recycled content of a lot of materials is pretty high. You (or your LEED consultant) should do the due diligence to know if the recycled content is even achievable in your area, but it probably is. Obviously you don't want to set requirements that are impossible to achieve.
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEEDŽ-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 118
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 11:05 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Here's a new bit of language I am toying with for a military LEED design/build project. Suggestions are welcome, and if you decide to borrow any of this, do so at your own risk.

This approach is not in any way to dodge our design phase documentation duties - we are doing a thorough job of credit selection and specifying throughout the project manual. However, since it is going D/B, the Contractor is our boss, and they would like some extra flexibility. We believe it is warranted to allow for this, because they have a knowledgeable LEED-AP on staff (maybe several actually) and a lot of experience in this area. So here goes:

4. The Contractor is not limited to the LEED credits indicated. Alternative credits may be used in lieu of those included in the Contract Documents provided that the cumulative total of the points achieved is not less than required to receive the Silver rating. Any additional points indicated in the attached LEED Checklist are to be considered as a buffer, to be used at the Contractor's option.

5. If alternative credits are sought at the Contractor's option, Contractor shall submit proposed revisions for approval to the Government and for review by the Architect. Contractor is responsible for amending LEED Implementation Plan to reflect the changes and for requiring appropriate documentation from subcontractors and suppliers.

Now I will say a prayer and go to bed.
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 01:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Isn't "knowledgeable LEED-AP" an oxymoron? That's been my experience.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 826
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 04:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

George A. Everding, AIA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: geverding

Post Number: 388
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 05:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Often the distinction between an oxymoron and a prerequisite is nuanced to the point of indecipherability.

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