Fin MacDonald

Information on me and my current projects

Tag Archives: LEED

LEED for Homes – Preliminary Evaluation

I recently took part in a LEED for Homes preliminary evaluation. This is the first step in the LEED for Homes process and involves going through all of the requirements for LEED Certification before construction of the home starts. Starting the process early is key because it allows all parties involved to set clear goals and performance requirements. This is important because many LEED credits don’t add cost but they must be initiated early in the design process. LEED uses an Integrative Design Process which means all parties involved (owner, builder, architect, landscaper etc) collaborate throughout the process instead of working independently.

The categories for LEED for Homes are:
1) Sustainable Sites
2) Energy and Atmosphere
3) Material and Resources
4) Water Efficiency
5) Indoor Environmental Quality
6) Innovation in Design
7) Location and Linkages
8) Awareness and Education
The last two are LEED for Homes specific. Location and Linkages works to ensure that the home is located in a developed area within walking distance of amenities and public transportation. This helps prevent urban sprawl. Awareness and Education helps promote LEED for Homes by encouraging you to hold an open house for the community, as well as install LEED signage to highlight your recognition.

The project team goes through the LEED for Homes checklist and identifies what it is capable of achieving. The prerequisites are the most important part because the project cannot be certified without meeting these. In additional to specific prerequisites LEED for Homes also has minimum point thresholds in each of the categories. The team confirms it can meet the prerequisites and identifies which credits it can achieve and which ones it might be able to achieve. The spreadsheet tallies up the total credit points as well as the credit points that may be possible. Depending on how many points the team thinks they can obtain the project sets the target for Certified (Lowest), Silver Certified, Gold Certified, or Platinum Certified (Highest).

LEED for Homes contains a home size adjuster and is the only LEED program to contain such an adjustment. It is designed to reward those who build a smaller home instead of a larger one. The spreadsheet will use the size of the home and the number of bedrooms to calculate this adjustment and determine the point thresholds for each level of certification (Silver, Gold etc). Homes of the same size will do better if they have more bedrooms.

Finally an accountability form is filled out which identifies which member of the project team is responsible for which prerequisites or credits. This form will guide the team through the LEED for Homes process.

Did I mention that LEED for Homes is the only 3rd party verified rating system in the country for homes? For more information on the LEED for Homes rating system visit the Canadian Green Building Council.


Let the Studying Begin: LEED AP (Operations and Maintenance)

I have started studying for my next LEED exam. I am planning to write the LEED Accredited Professional exam with the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance specialty. It was a tough decision between this and the LEED for Homes specialty, which I still plan to earn someday. LEED Operations and Maintenance is a rating system that certifies that an existing building is operated and maintained in an environmentally sustainable way. This differs from the other LEED rating systems that deal with the construction of the building only.

Buildings that certify under the Operations & Maintenance program need to stay current, and re-certify at least every five years. Buildings earn credits in the following categories:
– Sustainable Sites
– Water Efficiency
– Energy and Atmosphere
– Materials and Resources
– Indoor Environmental Quality
– Innovation in Design

The key areas of difference are the Energy and Atmosphere and Indoor Environmental Quality. Building energy systems need to be commissioned regularly to make sure they are working the way that they were originally intended too. This is often not done once, let alone every 5 years. Buildings can also earn points for using environmentally friendly cleaning products and equipment. There is even a point available for using sustainable and local food sources for the food court or cafeteria of the building.

The reference manual for LEED EB:O&M is 542 pages long. This is significantly larger than the book for the LEED Green Associate exam. I am giving myself a year to prepare for and write this exam. I’m planning to take it slow and study hard. By the time I graduate from NSCC I plan to be a LEED AP.

Studying hard for my LEED AP exam

LEED Green Associate

Today I received my LEED Green Associate credential! I passed my exam on Friday and today the Green Building Certification Institute officially delivered my recognition. I am now allowed to use the LEED Green Associate title in my email signature and on business cards.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The Green Associate credential denotes a basic knowledge of green building practices and principles and LEED. I spent close to a month studying for the exam and was thrilled to pass on the first try.

LEED Green Associate represents the first tier of three available:
1) LEED Green Associate
2) LEED AP with specialty
3) LEED Fellow

My next goal will be to obtain the required LEED project experience to be eligible to write the LEED AP exam. I will probably specialize in Operations and Maintenance.

Build Green Atlantic

Today I attended Build Green Atlantic, which is a green building conference presented by the Atlantic chapter of the Canadian Green Building Council and NSCC. The theme of the conference was Inspiration and Innovation. The conference presented 5 streams with a total of 25 presentations to choose from. The streams include:
1) Project profiles
2) Residential
3) Design
4) Carbon / Energy
5) Info / Education

The presentations I attended were:
1) LEED Certification Simplified – How LEED for Homes works with larger residential projects.
2) LEED Credentialing and Credentialing Maintenance.
3) Life Cycle Assessment – Developing a “Green Design” culture.
4) LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance – A team experience.
5) Making the business case for green building.

I really enjoyed the conference. The student admission rate was $35 which is very practical. Some of the conferences in my field tend to be very over priced. The best thing about the conference is that the workshops count towards your continuing education hours for LEED credentials. I don’t currently have a LEED credential but plan to write my LEED Green Associate exam really soon.