Taking a LEEDership Role

The market for better buildings through sustainable design has just grown through the creation of several new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems. These recently introduced subsets and stand-alone programs will better address the needs of the retail and healthcare structures.

As a recognized benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system now includes LEED for Retail and LEED for Healthcare. The USGBC has tweaked the 100-point framework to address specific marketplaces, while continuing to promote sustainable site selection, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality, with bonuses offered in innovative design and regional priority (10 possible points).

LEED for Retail
LEED for New Construction (NC) and LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI), while particularly useful for most commercial projects, missed some challenges unique to the retail environment. The new LEED for Retail attempts to bridge those gaps. The USGBC’s Nick Shaffer, LEED AP, manager for the organization’s commercial real estate sector, said efficiency requirements for energy and water are two notable differences in LEED for Retail.

“For example, restaurant kitchens are particularly challenging in regard to process loads,” Shaffer said. “Refrigeration demand is another example. Commercial ovens and stoves are another. Also, employees and customers use a retail space differently. Employees are there anywhere from four to 10 hours. Customers are only there for a short time. In effect, you may have two completely different spaces to manage [the kitchen and dining areas]. This affects any number of credits, including comfort, and challenges how you address them.”

LEED for Retail is divided into two rating programs to suit new construction and/or major renovation and building interiors. To help applicants, USGBC defines, but does not limit, retail as, “banking, restaurants, stores of any kind, spas, etc. This also includes direct customer service areas (e.g., a showroom) and preparation or storage areas that support customer service.”

The new rating system was refined through approximately 80 pilot projects. Representatives from Starbucks Coffee Co., based in Seattle, served on the development committee. Starbucks piloted 10 stores (five in the United States). In 2006, it achieved its first LEED-certified store. Today, 21 stores are rated either LEED certified or silver, gold or platinum, and it has set a goal of 300 new stores to be certified LEED for Retail.

“The point allotment in LEED for Retail is similar to LEED-ND and CI,” said Fulton (Tony) Gale, FAIA, corporate architect for Starbucks. “When you put the ratings systems side-by-side, you’ll discover tailoring differences. For instance, CI points may be given for offices that install individual thermal and lighting controls for workstations. A retail environment isn’t an office environment, but you want to earn such points somehow. So this rating system targets administrative spaces or a break room. There are point incentives for minimizing the use of process water in dishwashers, sanitizers or ice machines. Innovation points might be earned through a clever use of touchless or timed water dispensing for cleaning barware in a lounge or utensils in an ice cream parlor.”

“The challenge was how to fashion LEED ND and CI for retail without compromising the rigors of either,” Shaffer said. “We struck a good balance with Retail in the changes we made. The building community should know LEED for Retail brings a new crop of retailers to the table that may or may not have any experience with LEED. It is tailor-ready.”

Gale sees the electrical contractor’s (EC) role as important. “ECs can serve as valuable advisers. They can brainstorm with the engineer how to limit the wattage to a circuit, recognize what is allowed in code, identify lighting options or systems that can help meet efficiency goals, earn points, yet cost less money,” Gale said.

Since each Starbucks store must reflect the local community in which it resides, integrated design is encouraged, and local contractors are brought to the table. To streamline building hundreds of stores and earning LEED for Retail, Starbucks is participating in a LEED Volume Program. Introduced in 2006, the volume program streamlines the certification process for high-volume property owners and managers and large-scale builders and operators “to deliver a consistent end product” and earn LEED more quickly and cheaply than possible with individual building reviews. Gale said it also helps simplify planning and commissioning schedules for the general contractor and subcontractors on any project. It may open the door to winning multiple jobs, depending on contractors’ territorial reach.

Where ECs Can Play a Direct Role
To help projects earn LEED certification, ECs play an important role in earning points in light-pollution abatement, renewable energy, energy performance, material selection and other energy-conservation actions. Here are a few areas within the new LEED rating systems that make sense for the EC to know and understand.

LEED for Retail: New Construction and Commercial Interiors

Energy and atmosphere: Commissioning of lighting and daylight controls, whole building energy simulation baseline (prerequisites), on-site renewable energy (1–7 points), reducing lighting power densities (1–5 points), lighting controls (1–3 points), metering or submetering to achieve measurement and verification (2–5 points), and whole building energy simulation after improvements (1–19 points)

Material and resources: Construction waste management (1–2 points)

Indoor environmental quality: Controllability of systems—lighting and thermal comfort (1 point) and achieving proper daylighting (1–2 points)

Site selection: Install alternative fuel refueling stations (1 point).

LEED for Healthcare: “Healthcare” has many of the same tactics and similarly weighted points systems, but there are several new additions.
Water efficiency: Install meters to track water-usage reduction from any number of sources (1–2 points).

Energy and atmosphere: Install occupancy sensor lighting controls in offices, storage areas and mechanical (prerequisite), install NOX Continuous Emission Monitoring System (CEMS) to address community contaminant prevention—airborne (1 point).

Materials and resources: Install long lasting reduced mercury fluorescent lamps (1–2 points), specify and use electrical wire and cable with lead content less than 300 parts per million (2 points).

Indoor environmental quality: Lighting control systems for all occupants, staff areas and patient areas (1 point); thermal comfort controls for same areas (1 point); daylighting controls to meet minimum daylight illumination throughout facility (2 points)

USGBC sources: LEED 2009 for Retail: New Construction and Major Renovations Rating System (March 2010); LEED 2009 for Retail: Commercial Interiors Rating System (March 2010); and 2009 for Healthcare New Construction & Major Renovations (February 2011)

LEED for Healthcare
The LEED for Healthcare rating program debuted in spring 2011. Like LEED for Retail, this rating system addresses the specific concerns of buildings in its market. Unlike Retail, healthcare projects pose far more obstacles to LEED NC and CI. These buildings face strict regulatory requirements and have 24/7 operations, intense energy and water use, increased use of chemicals, infection-control requirements, and patient privacy issues. These facilities can also pose significant obstacles to sustainable design practices. Therefore, LEED for Healthcare addresses new construction and major renovation by modifying existing credits and creating new, healthcare-specific ones. Six prerequisites and 25 credits were modified, and 15 credits were added to the new rating system.

“This rating system is customized for healthcare projects,” said Melissa Gallagher-Rogers, LEED AP, and director, Government Sector, for USGBC. “Environmental Quality credits were modified to help protect patients from contaminants and meet strict code regulations on ventilation. The increased demands on process loads and water for cooling are recognized. This is a stand-alone, full rating system that tries to capture and optimize efficiencies by looking at what’s different in a healthcare building, then setting goals and standards.”

Licensed and federal inpatient and outpatient care facilities and long-term care facilities are prime project candidates for LEED for Healthcare.

“Water and energy usage is high for such facilities,” said Steven Guttmann, P.E., LEED AP, principal of Guttmann & Blaevoet, an engineering consulting firm based in San Francisco. Guttmann served on the USGBC committee that helped formulate the new rating system. “Dental offices, veterinary clinics, assisted living facilities, medical education and research centers are not targeted, as they are unlikely to reach such high thresholds for water and energy use. However, it is at the discretion of the project team.”

The rating system’s uniqueness is also driven by the complexity of a healthcare facility, such as a hospital, where multiple spaces must be addressed, be it patient rooms, kitchen facilities, lobbies, operating theaters, labs, emergency rooms and so forth.

The creation of LEED for Healthcare took a somewhat circuitous route. Seven years ago, representatives from the Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems approached the USGBC, wanting to create (using LEED NC as a guideline) its Green Guide to Healthcare (GGHC). In turn, USGBC used this best-practices design, construction, and operations guide as a reference document to develop the LEED for Healthcare rating system. The GGHC pilot projects influenced the development of LEED for Healthcare.

“As time goes on, I think more and more hospital and healthcare projects will make LEED for Healthcare a fundamental project requirement,” Guttmann said. “Knowledgeable owners will want experienced teams to help them cost effectively navigate the rating system. Contractors who serve this market should be up to speed.”

The federal government will be a major market for LEED for Healthcare. According to Gallagher-Rogers, the government sector is investing a lot of money in healthcare construction.

“The Department of Defense base realignment and closure efforts are driving consolidated locations, which, in themselves, are facing aging infrastructure and a need for medical facilities,” she said.
Regardless of the sector, Gallagher-Rogers believes if an EC knows the goals of LEED for Healthcare, his or her bid can be a road map on how to pursue certification.

“It shows you are up to speed and may keep your bid on the table,” Gallagher-Rogers said. “Expect an integrated design team approach for sophisticated projects such as these. Finally, these buildings will be built for 50 years or more of use. Maintaining their high performance will require trained professionals. Position yourself for return work.”

GAVIN is the owner of Gavo Communications, a marketing services firm serving the construction, landscaping and related design industries. He can be reached at gavocomm@comcast.net.

About the Author

Jeff Gavin

Freelance Writer
Jeff Gavin, LEED Green Associate, is the owner of Gavo Communications, a sustainability-focused marketing services firm serving the energy and construction industries. He can be reached at gavo7@comcast.net .

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