Innovation in Design

June 2015

USGBC LEED LogoWhen pursuing LEED certification, every point matters. One great opportunity for extra points is the Innovation in Design credit category. Under EAc3: Enhanced Commissioning, the project team has the option to reserve one point in the Innovation in Design credit category for Exemplary Performance of Enhanced Commissioning. This Innovation in Design credit resolves around the building's exterior, or more commonly called the building's envelope. In order to receive the credit, the project team must include the building envelope as part of the buildings systems that are to be commissioned. Simply including the building envelope is only half the battle. The Commissioning Authority also needs to demonstrate the standards and protocols by which the envelope will be commissioned by a comprehensive commissioning plan.

A building envelope commissioning plan requires multiple site visits during the construction phase, during which time a qualified professional must inspect the envelope. After construction completes, a certified thermographer must perform an infrared thermal scan of the entire exterior of the building. Documentation detailing the visits, findings and recommendations are then combined to create the building envelope commissioning report.

Mike Spaulding, Level III Certified Thermographer at Four Seasons Environmental, Inc. has helped many building owners receive this extra credit, including Bellevue City Schools' two new schools and Hollywood Casino (Toledo). He explains that the credit requires examining the foundation water-proofing areas, vapor and moisture barrier methods, spray-foam insulation, rigid insulation, thru wall cavity flashing, masonry grouting, window assembly (insulation and interior/exterior caulking), exterior trim work and flashing, roofing membrane, and facility entry framing.

Additionally, he notes that during the thermal review, facilities are thermally audited for heat loss, outside air infiltration and potential moisture infiltration areas.

"Getting the extra point on LEED is nice," says Mike, "but even better are the benefits it provides for the building owner. Building envelope inspections and thermal audits help reduce energy and save money."

In fact, so important is building envelope commissioning that the U.S. Green Building Council is making it a mandatory prerequisite, as part of EAp1, in the upcoming LEED Version 4.

To learn more about the Innovation in Design Credit, visit http://www.usgbc.org/credits.