LEED Certified Projects: How General Contractors Contribute

When it comes to LEED certified green building projects contractors play a huge role in contributing to the success (or failure) of the project. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system that may be applied to a variety of projects from building, to community and home projects.

LEED is intended to offer a framework for efficiency and earning a project certification requires a sustained effort by everyone on the team, including contractors and subcontractors. To achieve a LEED certification, commercial construction projects must satisfy all LEED requirements and earn at least 40 out of the 110 points on a LEED rating system scale. 

Design Requirements

Oftentimes the design requirements for LEED projects go above and beyond standard requirements and common building codes. It is imperative that the project has a strong design or construction team that has a robust knowledge of the LEED rating system. To that end, oftentimes a LEED coordinator will be involved with the project.

The LEED coordinator will ensure a project meets the design intent and LEED goals for the project. Initially, all of the LEED design and construction requirements should be detailed by the design team in the drawing and specification construction documents. Using those documents as a foundation, the LEED coordinator should be responsible for ensuring contractors and subcontractors on the project understand the LEED measures and requirements included.

Construction

The construction phase represents the most significant contribution to LEED certification on the part of the contractor. As decisions are made in regards to building materials, installation, budget and scheduling the impact on LEED credits will be considered.

The general contractor and any subcontractors or laborers involved in the project should be trained in the basics of the LEED framework for efficiency and long-term cost-savings. These primary consideration points include erosion and sedimentation control, pollution prevention, waste management, and so forth.

In addition to these job-site quality considerations, ongoing monitoring and documentation of progress to LEED goals is important throughout the project. LEED projects are document intensive, which is why typically the onsite LEED coordinator will complete intermittent inspections and reports to collect any material LEED documentation, collect photos, and monitor progress towards the targeted LEED credits. These inspection reports are the primary form of communication to contractors detailing any maintenance, updates or even corrective measures needed.

Subcontractor Qualifications

Subcontractors are often pre-qualified in LEED project experience and in-depth questions and background checks are typically part of the hiring process for a project. However, it’s important to note that the primary general contractor on any project is also responsible for gathering and submitting relevant LEED certificate and credit information from any subcontractors.

Furthermore, LEED is an educational process in many ways, and the General Contractor should provide a continuous feedback for subcontractors on exactly what the LEED requirements are for the project. It is equally as important to provide ongoing commentary on what subcontractors are not supposed to do or what they are to avoid doing on the project.