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Mitch Miller, AIA ,CSI, CCS, MAI
Senior Member
Username: m2architek

Post Number: 125
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 05:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Althought this may sound like a movie title, I assure you I am serious. Let me lay out the basic parameters: I have a public school project seeking Silver certification with a CM (Advisor) parting out the project with as many as 25 prime contracts.

1. Who should be the responsible party during construction for the LEED paperwork?
2. How can we assure the Owner that certification is possible? (the Silver gets them a higher reimbursible from the state).

I am sure this will generate all kinds of responses, all of which are welcomed!
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 664
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 05:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I would say that the CM is responsible for assigning someone to take care of all the LEED paperwork and making sure that the subcontracts are in compliance. the Owner in their meeting with the CM has to impress upon them that the LEED rating is not an optional event -- that the project MUST comply. It would be helpful if the CM has done successful LEED projects so that they understand what is involved in the submittal process and how the documentation has to occur. Remind them that this can often be a substantial personnel cost: some contractors allocate 50% to 75% of FTE just to monitor and track all this information. However, the CM will have to assure compliance of all the prime contractors as well. some of the items are applicable to the entire project site: waste-water management, recycling job site waste, and the like, so they have to be enforced by an entity with responsibility for the entire site. In addition, you'll most likely be looking for contractors who can provide materials within the 500 mile radius and the recycled content, and only the CM can assure those things.

Assuring the owner certification is a different matter. I certainly hope your contract for services doesn't "guarantee" this to the Owner. There should be an experienced LEED person on your side of the team -- whether someone on your staff or a consultant who specializes in such things. You cannot guarantee a LEED rating (since you are not in charge of granting it) but the best way is to make sure that you are going into the project with a surfeit of possible points -- for new construction a silver will require a minimum of 33, so you should have a LEED matrix that shows 37 or 38 as good points for your project.

it would be useful if there are other public schools for this owner that have been built to LEED silver, because their strategy and materials may provide some guidance for your project as well.
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 06:01 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The contractor is directly respopsible for VERY few of the total LEED points available. You cannot require that the contractor be responsible, for example, to get LEED points for recycled content or locally manufactured/harvested materials. The design of the building is going to be the overriding determinant as to whether or not these points are going to be awarded. It is ignorant in the extreme to expect/require the contractor to be responsible for this sort of thing.

While the CM could assist with the required LEED submittals process, it is unreasonable and impractical to think that the CM should manage the entire process. That is the reponsibility of the Owner, and as an architect, I have done this many times FOR the Owner and been compensated for it as a supplemental service. There are "green" consultants out there that also do this for the Owner.

I am increasingly by equal measure appalled and alarmed at professionals that think LEED is all about the contractor doing this or that to get the rating. It isn't. It's all about the design and the contract documents. If the specs don't call out the right materials, if the design doesn't do what it needs to for the various points being pursued, then the contractor has no responsibility and no requirement to do anything beyond that. Contruction waste management, IAQ during construciton and reporting of materials cost and % recycled content are about all we can reasonably ask for (and all I ever do). The rest is on the design team, and SHOULD be.

Having said that, there is no way on God's green earth that I would ever commit to getting any sort of LEED rating for a building unless I had complete control over the entire process - maybe in a true design/build scenario with explicit performance requriements from the Owner. Lots of parties can screw up the point tally - contractor, Owner, architect, architect's consultants, vendor, etc.
Robin E. Snyder
Senior Member
Username: robin

Post Number: 143
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 06:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I think it depends on the project and the contractual relationships. I am working on a very large project (5.2 Billion) and the Contractor is largely responsible for acquiring products and verifying they comply with the LEED requirements. The Architect or Interior Designer may specify Product A, but if the Contractor can find a similar product, for a lot less money, they will and then the responsibility is on them to ensure that it complies w/ LEED. They are playing a HUGE role in the LEED documentation and submittal process, probably more than the Architect in this case.
Anne Whitacre, FCSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: awhitacre

Post Number: 666
Registered: 07-2002
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 08:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I agree with Robin. we can specify products that comply, but we have no ultimate responsibility for buying out the job. And I also disagree with your anonymous comments regarding the recycled content/local materials. Contractors can buy products from anywhere they want and unless they know that recycled content is part of the criteria, it may not be a priority for them. In my early LEED projects, we did the due diligence to verify that recycled content products and local products are available, but they are now available enough that its the contractor's job. However, in a location with 4 wallboard vendors, unless they know that recycled content is important, they may buy the unrecycled content product for 4 cents a foot less.
as for the management of the LEED process, your and my experiences are diametrically opposed. I have never worked for a firm that documented the LEED process for the Owner (and I have worked on more than 20 LEED projects including 1 platinum one); it has always been a GC function or they are free to hire their own consultant. the Documents are written with the LEED documentation as part of the GC responsibility and its part of their bid process.

this is a design team issue only until the project goes to bid, then it becomes a construction issue. And indeed, in many parts of the country (Northwest in particular) a lot of contractors market themselves by how savvy they are about the LEED process and have their own LEED AP people on staff.
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEEDŽ-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 104
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 09:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Is it the CM, or the Owner, or Architect, or GC, or subs that need to make sure LEED is met? The answer is "Yes."

A design that ignores LEED requirements and has an incomplete or ill-conceived LEED checklist will not receive the rating no matter what the contractor team does. A perfectly designed LEED project might not be awarded the rating because one sub used an unacceptable product when no one was looking, or the GC or CM failed to account for cumulative ACTUAL cost of all products recycled (post- and pre-consumer) computed against the total project cost. In public sector we specifiers are nowhere near as omnipotent as we sometimes get credit for. Also, a perfectly designed and built project might still not meet the rating if the Owner fails to hire and communicate with a third-party commisioning agent.

These are just a few examples of why it is really a team effort to do a LEED project. The more you broaden that team, the greater the need will be for effective, team-oriented, goal-setting, results-driven communication.
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEEDŽ-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 105
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - 09:18 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Having said all that, my opinion for what it is worth is the CM may be in the best overall position to manage the DOCUMENTATION. That does not mean he/she alone is responsible for achieving the rating. The GC's and subs all must also bear responsibilty for collecting and turning in correct and complete receipts for everything.
Russ Hinkle, AIA, CCS
Senior Member
Username: rhinkle

Post Number: 36
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 09:27 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have documented 3 projects, am documenting one now, and have a project with two certifications past the Design Review (CS & CI).

The best projects are those where the team (owner, architect, contractor) work together to achieve the rating. I had a very similar high school project where we achieve silver certification. The CM on the project had (and got additional dollars for) a person on site who managed the submittals, paperwork, and data from the sub's. He and I worked together to make sure we had what we needed. As the architect, we were paid additional fee to document the project.

Yes, the owner, contractor, or architect can be the Project Administrator for the documentation. However, the architect/mechanical engineer really has the most work to do as is evidence by the number of credits that can be submitted in the Design Phase (after CD's are complete). What I see is that most contractors and architects see this as an opportunity to provide more service to our clients. Why let the contractors get the fee for this?
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEEDŽ-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 108
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 06:14 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Oh, and I think I should add the A/E's cost estimating consultant to that team too. It should help to get one on board who can separate materials from labor for each item -- not the standard offering among many estimators, or so I have heard. Ideally he/she would have some LEED experience and could help determine likelihood of meeting MR credits.

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