LEED v4 expert series:
CaGBC Vancouver office project

In keeping with our leadership role in the green building industry, the CaGBC achieved LEED v4 for Interior Design and Construction: Commercial Interiors Platinum certification for its Vancouver office located at 1021 West Hastings. This office is the first commercial LEED v4 Platinum certified project in the country and has served as a learning tool for CaGBC staff and our design team. Its collaborative process has also helped us engage the industry as they prepare for the higher sustainability thresholds in LEED v4 and beyond.

Originally published in the May and June 2016 newsletters, this LEED v4 expert series shares CaGBC’s experience with LEED v4 through speaking to key design and construction project team members to discover what they learned about the new version of the rating system, and what advice they would give to others who are working on their first v4 projects.

DIALOG and Ledcor talk about the CaGBC's Vancouver office and what they learned about meeting the Materials and Resources credits for LEED v4

This first part of the series focuses on tips to meet the materials requirements of LEED v4 and why the integrated design process remains critical to success.

Early material research key to success for DIALOG team

Chani Joseph Ritchie
ND, Planner and Sustainability
Specialist, DIALOG.

Lindsey Dru Nelson
Interior Designer, DIALOG.

DIALOG was selected as the Designer for the CaGBC project and brought the firm's best practices, innovative thinking, and experts in sustainable design to participate in the engagement and discovery phases.

Chani Joseph Richie and Lindsay Dru Nelson discuss their experience with the new rating system and how it affected their approach to the project.

This was a fast-paced project, with only six months from the award of contract to occupancy. The DIALOG Interiors team has extensive experience working within tight timelines, but the LEED v4 goals of this project meant a new approach was required from the start.

One key change was that much more time was allocated to materials research. Much of this research was completed during schematic design as it was acknowledged early on that the availability of materials, which met both the suite of LEED v4 credits targeted on this project as well as budget criteria, would be limited. Securing sponsorships was integral to the success of this project, and also required early planning and coordination. The combination of these factors led to a detailed, prescriptive project specification that ultimately reduced research required later in the project schedule.

One aspect that remained consistent with other DIALOG projects was the emphasis placed on early, integrated design. While this was key for this project and is rewarded by the LEED v4 rating system, it is typically how DIALOG approaches projects and therefore did not require a great shift. That being said, the value of a deeply engaged project team and integrated approach was perhaps felt more so on this particular project where many LEED v4 project goals were contingent on early consideration and incorporation into the design process.

Learn more with CaGBC’s On Demand LEED v4 Case Study: CaGBC Vancouver Office Project.

LEED tools help Ledcor in tracking materials for project

Marsha Gentile
Construction Sustainability
Specialist, Ledcor.

Ledcor was selected as the contractor for the CaGBC Vancouver office project. As the Materials Coordinator for the project, Marsha Gentile discusses how v4 presented challenges, as far as material selection and sourcing, but is a leap in the right direction.

The CaGBC project, my first v4 project, was different from the get-go. The Integrated Design Process (IDP) was more inclusive than I have experienced previously and the advantage of having everyone at the table was notable. In the Materials & Resources category, obtaining the necessary Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs) was challenging but doable. While some suppliers and manufacturers were already prepared for v4, a number of our sub trades had to source alternate suppliers to find compliant products. Materials tracking overall was more time consuming but having the use of the Building Product Disclosure & Optimization (BPDO) Tracking Table and Low-Emitting Materials Calculator was helpful.

The General Emissions Evaluation requirement was again challenging but doable. Low VOC products are (now) easy to source but not many had CDPH v1.1 2010 testing, so some research had to be done to find compliant products. We also found that we received fewer points for Low-Emitting Materials than in previous versions due to a reduction in the number of points allocated to low-emitting categories. The BPDO requirements make sense; let’s find out what’s really in our products and then work on doing better. There will be a big learning curve with v4, but I think it’s a leap in the right direction!

Learn more with CaGBC’s On Demand Materials Matter: A Contractor's Experience with LEED v4.

Early onboarding of subcontractors keep project timelines on track for Ledcor

Logan VanderVelde
B. Tech. Project Manager,

Logan VanderVelde worked on the CaGBC Vancouver office project as the Ledcor Project Manager overseeing the construction, schedule and budget of the entire project. Logan talks about the importance of balancing the project schedule and sourcing materials that meet v4 requirements.

Right at the outset of this project, we focused on the schedule, and the impacts that the new requirements of v4 would have on the final completion date. We tried to get our subcontractors on board right away so that they could in turn order their materials as soon as possible. This turned out to be a good strategy as there were many materials that came from across the country and eastern United States. Despite this early planning, there were still a few items that were being built out of sequence because something as simple as duct sealant was still shipping from New Jersey.

Overall, it was a learning process for our whole team, but I believe the project was a huge success. Ledcor is very happy to have had the opportunity to work on such a cutting edge project, and we have much more confidence moving forward on future V4 projects.

Integral Group, Pinchin West and EnerSys Analytics talk about working on the CaGBC’s new Vancouver office

For the second part of this series, we spoke to experts who were responsible for Energy Modelling, Air Quality Assessment and Electrical for the project.

Increased new contaminant sampling requirements casts a wider net for indoor air quality assessment

Ryan D'arcy
Dipl. T. (Env), Project
Manager at Pinchin West

Pinchin West delivers solution focused services in a variety of industries and applications including air quality testing. Ryan D'Arcy, Project Manager at Pinchin West, was responsible for Air Quality Testing for the project and discusses LEED v4 changes to indoor air quality assessment.

LEED v4 provided slight challenges in regards to indoor air quality assessment. LEED v4 has increased new contaminant sampling requirements such as the addition of ozone (non-attainment areas only); target chemicals listed in CDPH Standard Method v1.1 (Table 4-1); and Particulate PM2.5 (non-attainment areas only). One of the challenges with the additional contaminant samples was determining whether the project was considered to be located in a 'non-attainment area' and therefore if ozone and particulate PM2.5 was required to be included in the sampling.

For ozone, this required research to define what the EPA non-attainment standard was and how to apply these requirements where EPA standards do not exist (being outside of the United States). Pinchin West made the determination for ozone by referring to the BC Air Quality website. During the entire year of 2015, the BC Ministry of Environment air quality station in Downtown Vancouver did not exceed the EPA 8-hour average requirement of 70 parts per billion (ppb) or the more stringent criteria of 120 ppb for a 1-hour period. Due to these findings, Pinchin West believes that Vancouver would not be considered a non-attainment area and that ozone sampling was not required. We are awaiting GBCI acceptance of our research through the LEED certification review process.*

As Vancouver's PM2.5 can exceed the EPA standard of non-attainment classification, although rare (during periods in the summer depending on wildfire proximity and wind direction), Particulate PM2.5 sampling was included in the testing strategy.

* This approach was accepted through the LEED certification review process.

LEED v4 presents new tools to streamline efficiency

Curt Hepting
P.Eng., P.E., LEED AP
President, EnerSys Analytics

EnerSys Analytics is an engineering consulting firm that specializes in building energy science, custom software development, and program/policy research and evaluation. Responsible for Energy Modelling on the project, Curt Hepting, President at EnerSys Analytics, discusses the notable differences that LEED v4 presents for energy performance.

There are some notable differences in the application of ASHRAE Appendix G under LEED v4 for Commercial Interiors. One obvious difference is that under LEED CI v4 the energy standard is ASHRAE 90.1-2010, instead of ASHRAE 90.1-2004 or 2007. However, there were other subtleties that came up in the process. For example, typically the baseline envelope in an existing building would be modeled to reflect the existing conditions prior to renovation, assuming the envelope isn’t renovated too. Under LEED CI v4, the baseline envelope is to be modeled following ASHRAE 90.1-2010’s envelope requirements for new construction.*

Additionally, under LEED CI v4, the Baseline HVAC system type is determined based on the entire base building, not simply the applicable tenant fit-out space.

Another difference encountered while documenting the energy performance is the use of the USGBC Minimum Energy Performance Calculator. The calculator is essentially a large spreadsheet workbook used to document the Proposed and Baseline building simulations. The calculator acts as a checklist for the modeller preparing the simulations and largely replaces a typical modelling report submitted for certification under the LEED Canada programs. The calculator also provides energy performance results in a standardized format, which facilitates the review process, however is a significant departure from the present CaGBC energy modelling compliance documentation. We used version 2 of the calculator to document this project which has some notable limitations regarding the ability to provide explanatory notes for how certain inputs were derived. The USGBC has indicated that they will continue to update the tool to provide increased functionality and flexibility.**

All projects certifying under LEED v4 use the LEED Online portal to document and submit for LEED certification. Some of the advantages of LEED Online are the ease of use, including the ability for individual project team members to access and submit documentation for their respective credits. This eliminates some of the coordination and administration required when providing signed letter templates and coordinating data entry into a larger LEED workbook.

* A new allowance was published October 17, 2016 through LEED Interpretation 10454 (applicable to LEED v4 ID+C) permitting project teams to use the existing envelope in the baseline energy model per ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Table G.3.1.5 (baseline), subject to revised percentage improvement thresholds.

** The USGBC has released updated versions of the tool, providing increased functionality and flexibility allowing the project team to include optional additional notes.

LEED v4 electrical credit provides more opportunities to contribute to scorecard

Bryan Uemoto
Project Manager, Integral

Specializing in the design of simple, elegant, cost-effective systems for high-performance buildings, Integral Group provided electrical and mechanical services on the project. Bryan Uemoto, Project Manager at Integral Group, discusses how LEED v4 presented challenges and opportunities.

Electrically, LEED v4 presented new challenges and more opportunities to contribute to the credit scorecard. The Interior Lighting credit has two components, one for controllability and a new component (also worth one point) to address Lighting Quality. The latter component created a new focus on the actual lighting fixture performance and the reflectance of interior finishes.

This credit requires collaboration with the interior designer/architect as there are requirements for documenting and calculating the finish reflectance on the interior surfaces, i.e. wall, ceiling, flooring, furniture, etc. The project involved creating an efficient lighting design that incorporated the existing building lighting. Unfortunately, it was determined that we were unable to achieve the Lighting Quality component of the credit. This new option requires designers to pay close attention to the type of lighting that is being specified and expands what we need to consider when evaluating lighting alternatives.