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

Post Number: 478
Registered: 11-2004

Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 05:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

LEED Submittals: Action or Informational... or Something Else Entirely?

Action? Why would you want the potential liability of approving a LEED submittal that ends up not being acceptable to USGBC and costing your client an expected certification level? And what are you reviewing anyway? Just send me a letter of certification that the product has the requisite recycled content, or whatever, and that makes it….

Informational? But Masterspec seems to be including LEED in action submittals in the newest revised sections, perhaps because they often rely on product data to verify compliance. Section Format seems silent on the topic of LEED, although it includes “Sustainable Design Submittals” buried among the obviously informational submittals. And it says: “Procedures for submittal and review of sustainable design submittals are often different from those for other submittals”, perhaps implying that they are….

Something Else Entirely? But if so, what are they? Or does it depend on who has responsibility for LEED? If the contractor is made responsible for compliance with recycled content, regionally available, etc, then why submit at all? Treat it like MSDS and send it to the owner directly.

Or does it (gasp, I hope not) vary by section and depend on who is filling out the online form? If so that could make specifying it quite a mess. Perhaps this idea of dividing submittals into ACTION and INFORMATIONAL isn't such a good idea after all...

Just sign me…”Stumped by Sustainability Specs in St. Louis”
George A. Everding AIA CSI CCS
Cannon Design - St. Louis, MO
Phil Kabza
Senior Member
Username: phil_kabza

Post Number: 396
Registered: 12-2002

Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 07:37 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I think the design professional decides. If you check MasterSpec Division 01 Section "Sustainable Design Requirements" Supporting Documents, you'll see that the Documentation paragraph states that the section is written assuming the Architect's services include assembling the LEED documentation for certification. This can always be edited if that is not part of the Architect's services.

As an action submittal, the Architect will review and return a copy of the approved submittal to the Contractor, or return it if it is rejected. As an informational submittal, the Architect will review and file a submittal unless it warrants rejection or other action. In either case, the Architect has asked for and accepted a submittal, and unless he/she has rejected it, the Architect has taken some professional responsibility for the services rendered. The differences between informational and action submittals are merely administrative; the responsibility level is the same.

If the Architect is fulfilling the role of completing the online LEED forms based upon the Contractor's submittals, he/she may want to ensure that the Contractor has a completed documentation loop - "approved" or "not approved" - for every item that makes up the LEED documentation. That would be especially useful as interim checks against the accumulated credits that you mention: recycled content, regionally available, etc.

The Architect's "approval" of the Contractor's particular LEED submittal document is not in reference to an assumption that it fulfills all of the requirements for a LEED credit point, it is limited to whether or not the Contractor has fulfilled his/her contractual obligations with respect to that particular submittal: it properly documents what needs to be documented, and it contributes to that portion of the LEED project plan.

If on the other hand the Contractor is charged with completing the online forms and assembling the backup documentation for LEED certification, than I expect I would choose to put LEED submittals under Informational Submittals.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1081
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 08:48 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have thought about this myself for awhile. I do think they should be action submittals. Emphasizing Phil's comment, approving the submittal is essentially saying "it meets the intent of our design with regard to the sustainable characteristics that we intended." It doesn't mean it will meet the LEED or CHPS credit. As an example, if a product is specified to be below a particular VOC content, the sustainable submittal can verify that. As to the liabilities involved in sustainable design, I don't think this changes them.
Robin E. Snyder
Senior Member
Username: robin

Post Number: 259
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 11:12 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

along these lines - do you include separate submittal forms in your Project Manual that the contractor must fill out, verifying recycled content, voc content etc. These forms get submitted to the LEED AP.
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEED®-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 215
Registered: 06-2005

Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 11:12 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Seems unlikely there would be any less liability by not reviewing these submittals. More likely, opportunities could be missed to correct things before it becomes more costly to do so later. Especially in the light of Phil's comment that "The differences between informational and action submittals are merely administrative; the responsibility level is the same".
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1083
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 01:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We have not always included such a form (we generally don't include any forms in our project manuals). However, we are about to start. We found that sub contractors really weren't playing ball and submitting the right documentation. They just didn't understand LEED (CHPS). So, with the help of CM/at risk on our current large project (they're creating the form), we'll be including a form so they know what they need to provide.
Wayne Yancey
Senior Member
Username: wayne_yancey

Post Number: 247
Registered: 01-2008

Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 02:15 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


Is the form unique for each section or is one form (one size fits all) included in Div 01?
Christopher E. Grimm, CSI, CCS, LEED®-AP, MAI, RLA
Senior Member
Username: tsugaguy

Post Number: 216
Registered: 06-2005

Posted on Friday, August 07, 2009 - 10:45 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Here's another thought (back to the conversation in general, not about forms). The LEED Reference Guide lists credits as either "Construction Phase" Submittals or "Design Phase" Submittals. Perhaps that could have some bearing on this discussion.
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1084
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Monday, August 10, 2009 - 08:51 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The form is a single one. If a particular aspect doesn't apply, the submitter is supposed to put N/A or other indication.

Only construction phase submittals are needed, unless there is need to document some sort of design phase credit. We are specific in our sustainable design section what parts of what credits the contractor is responsible to obtain. I say parts because in CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools), many, many credits contain design, construction and owner responsibilities. I have to tell the contractor what part they are to do.
Sherry Bonelli
New member
Username: succeedatleed

Post Number: 1
Registered: 07-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 12:16 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

By putting your name and company at the top of the LEED submittal forms you complete , you verify that the information provided in the template is accurate, to the best of your knowledge. You are not signing your life away or giving away your first born...

With regard to design, construction and split reviews, If possible, I would recommend that projects do separate design and construction reviews (aka split review). By doing this, you'll get a very good idea of what the reviewers' commments to your templates look like, what you need to change, what they are looking for, issues that may need to be corrected in the construction templates, etc. You can then "fix" your design submittals as needed and resubmit -- and you'll be much better prepared for submitting your construction review templates.

I'll be adding a blog about this subject in the next few days: www.SucceedAtLEED.com

Sherry Bonelli, LEED Green Associate
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 1145
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 12:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

There are two types of submittals--one from the contractor to the architect, and one from the architect (probably) to the GBCI (or whatever USGBC's reviewing organization is called now). Principally we're talking about the first, not the second. The first provides the documentation needed for the second.

This extreme complexity and the administrative burden are some of the reasons that many in my firm find increasingly frustrating. (And we have a number of people very experienced and knowledgeable in sustainable design). The level of effort required for certain credits--mostly those that are material-related such as recycled and regional content and low-emitting--make them not worth pursuing, in my opinion. This issue is significantly worse with CHPS projects. It sure would be nice if there were more people who actually design and build real buildings every day involved in establishing these certification systems.

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