LEED - screwed doing a large addition to a small building


I am working on a project where we are doing a large addition to a 1930's building and I'm doing a preliminary LEED analysis. I'd like to find a way to get some credit under LEED for not demolishing the old building, but am coming up short. MR credits 1.1-1.3 require that additions be less than 2x the size of the original building so I'm excluded from those. I thought I might be able to get something under MR credit 4, but it doesn't look like I qualify for that either since building components that remain in place can't be considered reused.

To be saving 15,000 SF worth of old bricks, plaster, windows, slate, fine interior millwork, etc. from going to the dump and not getting anything out of it just because we're adding on 43,000 SF seems insane. If we were just renovating the 15,000 SF building we'd have at least 2 points it seems like we can't get now.

Any thoughts?

Jun 26, 08 11:58 am

I have little experience with LEED unfortunately, but it would seem your expansion could be listed as not just an increase in size but an increase in density. As such would be better more habitable rooms, inhabitants on the existing building footprint. Just a thought...I dunno

Jun 26, 08 9:58 pm

if you're that desperate for points, add a few more solar cells, install a few square feet of no-voc carpet if the rest of the building is hardwood floors, or break down and place a bike rack out front.

4arch, you've found the conundrum of LEED. not all points are as green as others and then there are some things that don't get you points (like not installing an HVAC system or carpeting).

try green globes and enjoy life cycle analysis (the future of leed today). they were offering free 30 day trial memberships a few months back.

Jun 26, 08 10:47 pm

Buy Steel and throw it in the dumpster - that technique has been working for developers in Chicago, without a hitch....
I give LEED four years before it's absorbed into local building codes, leaving all of the LEED sheep scratching their heads wondering how (the energy spent) in the past four years could have been spent on real aesthetic goals.
Thanks USGBC - enjoy the 300 bucks I gave you to take your stupid fucking test. I've been green my whole life and will continue without your bureaucratic hyperbole.

Jun 26, 08 11:00 pm

Fuck Leed - Build it to last, reuse whats there. Who you trying to impress?

Jun 27, 08 12:14 am

what a fucking joke

Jun 27, 08 1:43 am

jeez, you guys.

4arch, why don't you try submitting it as two seperate projects: the renovation, and the addition?

Jun 27, 08 2:55 am

What's stopping someone from Buidling green without LEED certification?
Isn't this really all about TIF money and or Public Projects? The private sector has no incentive to get tangled-up in this LEED mess, right?

Jun 27, 08 11:00 am

I don't care about LEED certification and definitely see its flaws but the client has demanded it.

Splitting them up into two projects a good idea, 765.

Jun 27, 08 11:09 am

I've been green since my sister told what ecology meant it was '81 - been a green hacker since.

Jun 27, 08 11:32 am

LEED is good because it drives demand from the client side, but bad because it ultimately becomes all about marketing.

But if you're going to do it anyway, why not submit the paperwork and get your certification?


Jun 27, 08 11:44 am

I would agree to split them out. If you make them into one project, you will get disadvantage in overall energy performance credits since the old building will keep its window (when u said u keep the windows, i will assume you will keep their glazings) and skews the overall energy lower.

If you split, you get credits by keeping the old structure and you will get more energy efficiency credits in the new addition. With current LEED, it won't be difficult to achieve certified if you address the LEED requirement in the beginning of project.

I don't like LEED personally but it has a few postive points. For examples, how many do buildings make energy simulation during the design prior to LEED? how about now? how many designer/mech engineer worry about their thermal comfort design in their building prior to LEED? I still remember a few years ago, when I brought energy simulation in my portfolio, most of them did not know what it is and think that it was too complicated.

It's just my 0.2 cents...

Jun 27, 08 6:36 pm

If you don't want to split the project up, I'd consider writing up for an ID credit and see what happens (assuming of course that your ID points aren't already filled). As your saving a significant component of the building and your work is not covered by other points under the LEED system you might have a decent chance of picking up a point there.

Though I'm definitely in the "LEED sheep" group, I've always aimed to make the actual certification secondaryh to the goal of creating a truly sustainable building. You can't worry too much about the points or you're going to run into trouble. Evilplatypus mentioned durability, which is strangely still not mentioned at all in LEED, but it's still a core component of making a sustainble building. Given a limited budget forcing a choice between a combo of solar panels and VCT flooring versus no panels and terrazo I'll take the terrazo every time...

Echoing mces' comments, I think people forget how much sustainability was a non-issue before LEED. I've only been at my current firm for about three years, and I've personally seen the transition from having to inform clients (corporate, gov't, k-12... anything) about LEED to them demanding it from us.

Poczatek... you say a transition from LEED -> code like that would be a bad thing? That's the point - market transformation. I see LEED as getting us to common grounds regarding metrics... It's still nearly impossible to get detailed recycled content info from many manufacturers, but every day I see better reporting. I think it's important that LEED becomes a standard by which we're measuring performance along common lines. In 5-10 years we may no longer need third party certification, but right now it's helping to transform an industry that previously never gave two shits (with notable exceptions) about where their materials came from or whether we wasted millions of gallons of water every year. I'm sure your efforts to reach your "aesthetic goals" are making the world a better place, but I'll be damed if you can convince me that that's what we should be aspiring to as a profession.

Jun 30, 08 7:52 pm

LEED-like guidelines absorbed into Local Buildings codes would be a good thing - a great thing, and the ultimate goal - it SHOULD have happened already. Therefore, that possibility precludes me from spending another dime attempting again, success at a test that will give me accreditation for efficacy in future building code. I am not discrediting anyone or LEED, while I agree it may have seemed so, but I say lets defer the froth I'm seeing for the sake of a title. Peace sells, Green sells.....Benevolence should not have a price tag, and for many it does in the form of LEED certification. Make it a rule, not a marketing ploy in a slumping market. Many of the "green" buildings are inherently not green at all, as the most environmentally conscious thing to do would be to not build them at all.

Jun 30, 08 8:32 pm

regarding the initial post, this would count toward Materials and Resources credits 2.1 and 2.2 (construction waste management - divert 50% and 75% from disposal).

within MR credit 1, approach and implementation, it states 'Projects that are incorporating existing buildings but do not meet the requirements for MR Credit 1 may apply the reused portions of the existing buildings toward the achievement of MR Credit 2, Construction Waste Management. To do so, project teams will be required to determine an approximate weight for existing building elements.'

it shouldn't be too hard to meet the 75% requirement when you count the existing building and recycle additional non-hazardous construction and demolition debris.

i apologize for writing the leed is a 'f*cking joke'. i was wrong.

Apr 13, 09 2:48 pm

FRaC's analysis is correct.

I wholeheartedly agree that LEED has its problems, but when someone asks a question, you all should know what you're talking about before you go on bashing LEED. In this case the answer was rather straightforward, which makes it clear that many of you were only interested in pursuing your personal agendas in criticizing LEED without having a working knowlege of the system.

Apr 13, 09 3:33 pm
On the fence

Maybe just build what the client wants and stop wasting time on stroking your ego via a lead project.

Just a thought.

Apr 13, 09 4:30 pm

4arch specifically said that the client is demanding that the project be LEED, therefore, he/she IS building what the client wants.

a word of caution if actually considering splitting the project in two - you (or more likely your cllient) will have to pay for two project registrations and two project certifications, not to mention you'll have to complete twice as many credit templates, submittals, etc etc. I imagine that the LEED process will become far more expensive and time consuming than it already is.

Apr 13, 09 4:37 pm

interesting to see this thread back after almost a year.

Apr 14, 09 8:44 am

how did you resolve the problem?

Apr 14, 09 8:56 am

The client ended up not wanting to go for LEED certification (due to perceived added expense), opting instead to just have us give our word that we were confident that the building would meet LEED Silver or better. We were doing enough other things that would have earned us points that we could have met Silver without the MR 1 credit.

Apr 14, 09 9:14 am

wow, thats a nice forward-thinking client to go for upgrades without the "benefit" of LEED certification

it kind of goes to show that a lot of what goes into this is the mindset of your client

i think that is the way your client should have handled the situation, as the certification wasnt the important part, having a good building was

Apr 14, 09 1:09 pm

Mamrkid - Let's hope you're right... Now the real question... how many sustainable design and construction strategies that would have been retained 'only to get points' get VE'd because there's no one looking over you or the contractor's shoulder after construction is complete?

There is a value to going through the process. I'd be willing to be you get far fewer local, renewable, or recycled materials into the project as a result of the fact that no one is going to check for this during construction.

Apr 14, 09 1:21 pm

if a client makes it a requirement to either achieve LEED points or follow those guidelines, then that would have to be written in to any specs and the contractor would have to follow it

the VE issue will always be there, but, just as if gaining LEED certification was a priority, if maintaining those standards is a priority, it could be left off the VE item list

again, it all comes down to what your client prioritizes

that is a good point though
going through the LEED process picks up a lot of little things like renewable materials
just having a client who wants a sustainable building, something like that could fall through quickly on a VE item list

Apr 14, 09 1:26 pm

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