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5 'Easy' Ways to Earn More LEED Points

Key Points
  • LEED v4 offers pilot credits to help earn extra points and reach a higher certification level.
  • The integrative process, which earns one point, helps achieve other credits in various categories.
  • Locating your project within a LEED for Neighborhood Development boundary earns extra points.

LEED building
So you've just landed a new construction project and decided to go for LEED v4 certification. If you want to get to the next level of certification and are a few points short, here are some ideas on earning extra points.

Be professional and integrate

Include a LEED Accredited Professional (specialty required relevant to the project) on your project team; it's an easy way to earn one point. Having such an expert on your team should also help you earn more points since they can identify what other optional credits are possible.

The Integrative Process credit earns one point. Most LEED projects should use this approach, since it requires a preliminary energy modeling analysis, as well as a water budget analysis, before schematic design is completed. Although the required documentation adds time to your project, you'll improve the energy performance of your building and have a better outcome.

"Integrative process is the best way to set up the project for success in order to more easily achieve the other credits," said Johnna Keller, Project Manager and LEED AP BD+C at m+a architects.

Keller adds, "Site assessment can be easily integrated into the integrative design process and begins to inform design strategies early on. Site placement and orientation segues nicely into the early energy and water use analysis required for integrative process."

Go for the pilots

If your design includes a vegetated roof, set aside a part of it for food production (fruits and vegetables), as required in the pilot credit, if it makes sense for the project. You'll earn one point for the Innovation credit, which can earn up to five points total. Green roofs can also earn one point each for several credits in Sustainable Sites: stormwater management and/or heat island reduction. If green roofs don't require irrigation, up to three points can be earned in the water efficient landscaping credit.

Check out other pilot credits to see if they apply to your project; these credits are in constant flux. If your project includes natural gas fueled equipment like central furnaces, water heaters and boilers, you can earn one point if you meet the California South Coast Air Quality Management District standards for all products of combustion.

Another way to earn up to two points is with the green power and carbon offsets credit, which is easily achieved by signing a contract for renewable energy credits (RECs) or carbon offsets. RECs must be Green-e Energy certified and the percentage must be based on the quantity of energy consumed.

Location, location, location

Locate your project within a certified LEED for Neighborhood Development boundary. You can earn from 8 (Certified) to 16 points (Platinum) just by building within such a neighborhood. However, you can't earn any other points under other Location and Transportation (L&T) optional credits.

If such a neighborhood isn't available, locating your project in a mixed-use development (residential and nonresidential) can earn up to five points for L&T. Another five points are possible if your building is near public transportation routes (if they meet the credit's requirements).

"You can rack up a lot of 'free' points under L&T with very little extra effort or cost added," points out Keller.

Keller also believes the enhanced commissioning credit pays for itself because this process help you make better decisions during design, resulting in a building that performs well.

We can help

National Grid has tools and energy solutions to grow your business and foster strong client relationships. For more information, contact us at 844-280-4326 or  

Image source: iStock

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