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LEED success in Everett

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Good news to report at Silliker + Partners. We recently finished helping a small Everett HVAC company certify their building under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance!

Evergreen State Heat & AC wanted to put their building through the wringer and get to know the LEED system first-hand, in hopes of helping their clients pursue similar goals. That’s me (Jared) on the right with CEO Russ Kimball, who led the effort. Russ also studied for, and passed, the LEED exam while we did all the documentation on his building. The project is now the first EB O&M certified building in Snohomish County. We finished with 42 points, although improving to Silver certification (50 points) is fully within reach when we re-certify in the coming 5 years.

I’ll write a more nerdy post soon on some specifics of the project, but despite being a small, simple building, we faced our fair share of issues with the LEED system. Most notably, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) is massively backlogged. We first submitted in November 2010, and got final approval in late April (that’s longhand for ‘not fast’). More interesting, however, are all the details that come up once you’re deep into LEED’s requirements. This, of course, happens on large projects as well, but the take home message is that the credit language can seem halfway easy until you try to fill out the online forms for a real project. Some of this is important to maintain program rigor. Other parts are just plain silly. To give you a taste of the latter, we lost an easy point because of this language (within IEQc3.4, Sustainable Cleaning Equipment):

“vacuum cleaners are certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute “Green Label” Testing Program for vacuum cleaners and operate with a sound level of less than 70dBA”

We mistakenly thought that the CRI label included sound parameters. Untrue! The CRI folks barely knew what I was talking about, and no sound information could be found for the CRI-labeled vacuum we purchased prior to learning of this nuance. Thus, no point for us! Our fault in the end, but still silly.

On the plus side, the overall rigor of the program makes sure a building owner is truly running a tight ship. I’m convinced that merely following LEED’s framework, but not certifying a project doesn’t hold water. The end result will, on average, be less awesome.

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