Key Submission Steps in LEED Online
Is your project ready to submit for certification? As LEED Online is new to many project teams, we have outlined the steps involved.
- Have you ensured Project Information is complete, providing all submittal requirements as per the PI Form?
- Have you uploaded all required documentation and Excel calculators?
- Is the gross floor area consistent throughout the project documentation?
1) “READY FOR REVIEW”
Once you have all documentation uploaded, there is a grey checkmark to the left of the credit name which marks the credit as “Ready to Review”. After selecting the grey checkmark, the checkmark will turn green and the drop down in the credit row will say “Ready for Review”.
2) “SUBMITTING FOR REVIEW” – STEP 1
Once all prerequisites and credits that you plan to submit are marked “Ready for Review”, press the “Submit for Review” button at the top of the page.
3) “SUBMITTING FOR REVIEW” – STEP 2
There is an important verification step: you need to confirm the submittal by reviewing the credits marked ready for review, and then you can click the ”Submit” button at the top of the page.
Once you have completed the above steps, your required payment will be linked to the gross floor area provided in LEED Online. Your certification review will start once payment is complete.
If you experience difficulties submitting your project for review, please feel free to contact LEED Coach Canada at LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.
Check your points! Three things to watch for in the Credits tab in LEED Online
1 Submitting for final review? Be sure to verify in LEED Online that you are attempting enough points to certify (Certified level starts at 40 points). LEED Online includes denied points in the overall “attempted” score, so subtract those points to ensure you are applying with a sufficient amount.
2 Pay special attention to multi-point credits, such as Indoor Water Use Reduction.
If you need to adjust the number of points attempted in a multi-point credit, you can do so in the “Thresholds” tab by simply selecting the appropriate threshold. This allows your project team to accurately track your final score.
3 Regional priority points are automatically calculated in the overall attempted score, and if earned, included in the awarded total. In the credits tab look for the regional priority icon on the far-right which changes from gray to orange if earned.
Precertification in LEED Online
Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.
Question: What is precertification and why is this pathway selected in LEED Online?
Amanda Ashmore, LEED Reviewer, answers: The default selection in the Timeline tab of a BD+C project in LEED Online is to pursue the precertification pathway and this is taking some by surprise. Precertification is a review pathway available for an additional fee to all LEED v4 BD+C projects as well as O+M projects pursuing the performance path. This optional additional review stage helps project teams determine which credits and prerequisites are likely to be achieved during the full certification review. The results can be used to demonstrate a commitment to LEED and to help market the unique green features of a project to attract tenants and financiers. Precertification does not shorten the full certification review that is required in order to earn LEED certification.
LEED Canada projects were not offered the option of precertification and therefore this term will be new to many. Be sure to check that the certification pathway option reflected in the Timeline tab in LEED Online is correct for your project so the appropriate LEED forms will be available on the Credits tab. Teams can toggle the certification pathway option to change to the Design and Construction, or Standard review pathways as they apply to the rating system of the project. Please feel free to send any questions to: LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.
If your project has elected to pursue precertification, in most cases the LEED forms will not be available in LEED Online. Instead, your project will complete and upload the Precertification Worksheet along with any supporting documentation, note the appropriate prerequisites and credits as ready for review on the “credits” tab, and then submit for review. Once achieved, precertification is valid for three years.
LEED Coach Canada: Market-Specific Support for LEED Projects
LEED Coach Canada provides bilingual, coast-to-coast, market-specific support for your Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects. With LEED Coach Canada, GBCI Canada applies the expertise we've developed since CaGBC first published a Canadian adaptation of LEED in 2004.
Offered through GBCI Canada, LEED Coach Canada support staff are subject-matter experts who know the pulse of the Canadian market. As LEED v4 reviewers, they accurately represent Canadian needs when it comes to the development of Alternative Compliance Paths and in the evolution of the rating systems such as LEED v4.1.
If you are working on a LEED project and have questions, LEED Coach Canada is here for you. We provide prompt service, with responses generally within five business days--and delivered from the certification body that will be reviewing your LEED project.
For more information on the LEED Coach Canada program, reach out to LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.
Dive In – Successful LEED v4.1 Credit Substitutions
Many have expressed an interest in the flexibility and improvements offered by LEED v4.1, but their current projects may not be at a stage where it is suitable to upgrade entirely to the latest version. However, all BD+C and ID+C v4.1 prerequisites and credits are available for substitution by LEED v4 projects - see the Beta Guides for special direction on substituting select credits.
As the beta rating systems are a pilot, LEED v4 project teams are encouraged to implement LEED v4.1 strategies a la carte as they suit the projects. This provides a chance for the Canadian market to use their first-hand project experience to inform and accelerate the development of the future balloted requirements. Just a reminder that feedback can be provided at any time to LEED Coach Canada.
The LEED v4 reviewers have recently seen an uptake in LEED v4.1 strategies substituted on LEED v4 projects, especially when they offer additional assurance or contingency to teams that are submitting their first LEED v4 project. The team at Prairie Architects Inc. had already received the preliminary certification review report for their project when LEED v4.1 was released. They were excited at the opportunities the changes would open up and, even between reviews, were able to adjust their approach in order to submit for final review substituting four credits.
Alara Matsyk, Sustainable Buildings Coordinator on the project, noted that the changes to the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Sourcing of Raw Materials credit in LEED v4.1 in particular, gave additional recognition for the work the team had put into materials reuse. "While it was only one point gained for that credit, every point counts," Matsyk added. "While we weren't able to take advantage of very many v4.1 updates, it looks promising for future Manitoba projects. We felt in general that the industry was being listened to, and are looking forward to further positive changes in this v4.1 beta version." Read more about Prairie Architects' Winnipeg offices, now LEED v4 ID+C: CI Platinum certified.
What’s new in LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C – IP Credit Integrative Process
The changes to IP Credit: Integrative Process allow project teams more flexibility in demonstrating their integrative approach to the decision-making process. The credit intent remains the same and is aimed at supporting early analysis of relationships between building systems and disciplines within the project team; however, the documentation requirements have been updated. Previously, project teams were required to complete a detailed worksheet to describe the owner’s project requirements, assessments for the basis of design and outcomes in construction. In LEED v4.1, the team must provide a letter to describe the impact of the integrated approach in terms of improving interaction between the project team members and the outcome for the project. The letter must include a separate summary for each issue area analyzed and describe how the analysis informed decisions. The letter should be a team effort; guided by the Integrative Process Facilitator, signed by all principal project team members and made available to all key stakeholders. This added flexibility encourages involvement from all members of the project team in the discovery phase.
To earn the credit in LEED v4.1, energy and water-related systems must be assessed. Teams can earn an Exemplary Performance point for analyzing project goals through an additional lens to demonstrate the outcomes and benefits of integrative process. Additional areas include site selection, social equity, health and well-being, or another topic relevant to the project.
Are there exemptions for small incomplete areas in LEED v4?
Under LEED Canada NC 2009, project teams have benefitted from an exemption for small tenanted areas in their projects, where they had difficulty enforcing requirements through mandatory lease agreements. This exemption for 10% of the floor area (20% in mixed-use projects) was outlined in the LEED Canada Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction 2009 and further clarified in CIR 976.
LEED Interpretation (LI) 10102 has recently been updated to allow similar guidance to be applied to LEED v4. Generally, any incomplete spaces in LEED BD+C v4 projects (with the exception of Core and Shell) are required to follow the direction in the Getting Started section of the LEED BD+C v4Reference Guide to use tenant guidelines or owner commitment letters. This information was also outlined in November 2017 issue of the LEED Technical Bulletin. The allowance in LI 10102 notes:
For the ease of documentation, project buildings where up to 10% of the building gross square footage or 20,000 gross square footage (whichever is smaller) contains incomplete space, will not be required to provide an Owner’s Letter of Commitment or Tenant Guidelines during the LEED certification submittal. These projects are required to comply with all other provisions outlined in this LEED Interpretation.
However, similar to LEED Canada NC 2009, this exemption does not apply to any prerequisites and credits with established baselines (for example, Indoor Water Use Reduction and Minimize/Optimize Energy Performance). As explained in the LI, the proposed case must be held equivalent to the baseline for the incomplete spaces, except where binding lease agreements can be provided.
How to Accelerate Your LEED v4 Certification
Every LEED project has the potential to certify after only the preliminary review; the CaGBC reviewers would like to get you there. The most persistent theme amongst the LEED v4 project submissions is missing documentation, which extends the review process adding time and effort for project teams. Unlike the LEED Canada review process that Canadian practitioners are familiar with, LEED v4 does not have a “Completeness Check”. Instead, projects use the LEED Online platform and once the submission and payment have been received the review begins right away. If the documentation submitted is incomplete, the review could be put on hold to request additional information, thus causing delays. In most cases, missing documentation results in a lost opportunity for the reviewer to request any necessary clarification, leading to a greater chance the prerequisite or credit could be denied.
Before submitting for certification project teams are encouraged to verify that all required documentation outlined in the LEED Form for each prerequisite and credit has been uploaded to LEED Online. To avoid pending credits and ensure a successful preliminary review:
- Complete the Project Information (PI) documentation. Pay special attention to include information on occupancy and the building floor area, upload a site plan noting the LEED boundary, and provide photos and drawings of the project inside and out.
- Upload all energy simulation documentation. Review the documentation outlined in the LEED Form for EAp Minimum Energy Performance ensuring that both the simulation input and output reports for the proposed and baseline models have been provided, as well as the completed Minimum Energy Performance Calculator.
- Identify all relevant details and use them consistently throughout the submission. Project teams should refer to the Getting Started section of the Reference Guide, specifically the Maintaining Consistency in the Application subsection to confirm characteristics such as occupancy calculations, incomplete spaces, or tenant areas have been treated appropriately.
- Provide all completed calculators in Excel. Calculators are found under the “Resources” tab in the Credit Library where required to demonstrate compliance, for example WEp Indoor Water Use Reduction and EQp Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance. Review the Instructions tab to be sure that each usage group or system has been entered.
Looking for more insight into what LEED v4 reviewers are looking for? The CaGBC has recently released a Reviewer Tips for LEED v4 On Demand course which highlights typical issues seen during reviews and provides strategies to avoid challenges commonly encountered by project teams.
Reviewer Insight: Three Helpful LEED Interpretations for LEED v4 Projects
The following three LEED Interpretations applicable to the LEED v4 rating systems have caught the eyes of CaGBC reviewers and may be useful to Canadian project teams:
LEED Interpretation #10474
Released July 2, 2018, this Interpretation addresses Canada’s legalization of marijuana use. As per the LEED Interpretation, the smoking of cannabis is considered a form of smoking for all intents and purposes for both the interior and exterior smoking provisions of the LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C and O+M, EQ prerequisite Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control.
LEED Interpretation #10425
This LEED Interpretation, released October 1, 2015, clarifies that a generic industry-wide Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) can be used to document up to ten products for LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C MR credit Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Sourcing of Raw Materials, Option 1, Environmental Product Declarations. Please note that each product declared must have separately reported impacts within the EPD, and as with all industry-wide EPDs, documentation demonstrating that the manufacturer is explicitly recognized as a participant by the program operator must be provided.
LEED Interpretation # 10411
This LEED Interpretation, released April 1, 2015, applies to LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, O+M and ND Sustainable Sites credit Heat Island Reduction and allows for the use of typical solar reflectance values that can be used in lieu of project-specific testing data for standard non-roof materials. See the typical values listed below:
Gray cement concrete - Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.26, Three-Year Aged Solar Reflectance*: 0.18
White cement concrete - Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.70, Three-Year Aged Solar Reflectance*: 0.35
Asphalt concrete - Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.05, Three-Year Aged Solar Reflectance*: 0.10
*Three-year aged SR values are based on no cleaning.
For complete details about each LEED Interpretation please refer to the Addenda database.
Update on French language support for LEED v4
Hot of the (electronic) press, the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction Reference Guide is now available in French on the LEED v4 Resources page.
As many now know, GBCI Canada is conducting the certification reviews of LEED v4 projects. Certification review reports are only available in English for the time being, however, project teams are able to provide their submission material in French.
While LEED Online will remain in English only, it is our goal that language not be a hurdle to LEED certification. Technical inquiries in French, as well as any other questions, can be directed to customer service email@example.com.
Why is my project confidential within the USGBC and CaGBC project directories?
People often wonder why their project is listed as confidential within the USGBC and CaGBC project database. The selection to indicate that your project is private is initially made in the registration form in LEED Online. If you indicate “this project is private" it will not be listed in these publicly available LEED project directories. This use of the word private does not indicate that the project is privately held or a private residence but rather that the project details, such as the name and address, should be held confidential. Note that, a private project may not be advertised to the general public as being registered or certified. You can update this selection within the project details in LEED Online at any time.
Register Canadian LEED v4 projects in LEED Online
Registration is now administered by GBCI Canada through LEED Online, a platform used by project teams to coordinate and expedite the documentation and certification process.
Organizations that are CaGBC Specialist Members benefit from reduced registration and certification fees. Not a member? Become one today.
For information on the many rating systems available, please see the LEED v4 Rating System Selection Guidance. LEED for Homes and Midrise projects must contact a Provider prior to registration; Providers guide the project through the process of seeking certification and provide on-site inspections. To register a project for the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, please contact GBCI Canada customer service directly.
We will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (toll-free) 1-866-941-1184.
Reminder – Submit your project for preliminary review within 2 years
You’ve successfully registered, designed and built your project and collected all necessary documentation. Your project has achieved substantial completion, and is now occupied. Now it’s time to submit your LEED v4 BD+C or ID+C project for preliminary review (preliminary standard review or preliminary construction review). Remember to submit no later than two (2) years after substantial completion. LEED v4 and v4.1 O+M projects are required to submit within 60 days of the end of their performance period.
FAQ – Is my project required to follow addenda?
The October Technical Bulletin discussed the usefulness of the LEED v4 Addenda but which LEED v4 projects are required to follow the addenda?
Answer - Project teams must follow addenda published prior to the date of registration of that project; however addenda published after project registration is not required to be followed. Due to the helpfulness of addenda, though, it is strongly recommended that project teams follow any addenda published after the date of registration.
As always each addenda (cumulative or each individual) can be found on the resources section of the USGBC website. For project teams that prefer hard copies or PDFs of reference guides, be sure to download and refer to each new addendum as they are released for current direction. Those using the Online Reference Guide for LEED v4 will find the addenda automatically included.
For more information on LEED v4 addenda, please see the October LEED Technical Bulletin.
Incomplete spaces in BD+C
LEED v4 BD+C projects are required to have at least 60% of the gross floor area completed at the time of certification. Historically, project teams were allowed to pursue LEED Canada NC 2009 if at least 50% of the gross floor area was completed at the time of certification. However, under LEED v4, no more than 40% may be incomplete, unless the project is certifying under the LEED BD+C: Core and Shell (CS) rating system.
BD+C: Core & Shell
The scope of Core and Shell (CS) projects are limited; as a result, only portions of the project within the LEED scope are included in credit calculations. If a project team wishes to apply for credits that are beyond the scope of design and construction of the LEED project, a tenant sales and lease agreement, signed by future tenants, must be provided. The lease agreement must be binding and include terms on how credit requirements will be met by the tenant. An unsigned or sample lease agreement is not acceptable. For example to take credit for savings from not yet installed plumbing fixtures for WE credit Indoor Water Use Reduction in a tenant space of a CS project, the project team must submit a signed and executed legally binding tenant sales and lease agreement. If a signed and executed legally binding tenant sales and lease agreement is not provided, project teams must assume that the as yet installed plumbing fixtures have baseline water consumption rates. Please note that lease agreements are not required in order to pursue CS certification. They are only used if a project is aiming to earn additional points for measures that are considered outside of the project design and construction scope that will be fit-out by a future tenant.
For more information refer to the Incomplete Spaces and Tenant Sales and Lease Agreement portions under Maintaining Consistency in the Getting Started section in the Credit Library. Also be sure to refer to the Rating System Variations portion of the Further Explanation Section within each credit, for credit specific guidance.
All BD+C adaptions EXCEPT CS
For incomplete spaces intended to be finished by tenants, unlike LEED Canada NC 2009, project teams are not required to provide copies of mandatory lease agreements, unless attempting to claim savings. Instead, submit a set of nonbinding tenant design and construction guidelines, with a brief explanation of the project circumstances. Similar to CS above, for prerequisites with established baselines (e.g., WE Prerequisite Indoor Water Use, EA Prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance) and the credits dependent on the calculations in the prerequisites, the proposed design must be equivalent to the baseline for the incomplete spaces. Project teams that wish to claim environmental performance or benefit beyond the baseline for incomplete spaces must have binding Tenant Lease and Sales Agreements (e.g., signed by the future tenant).
For incomplete spaces intended to be finished later by the owner, similar to LEED Canada NC 2009, a letter of commitment, signed by the owner, indicating that the remaining incomplete spaces will satisfy the requirements of each prerequisite and credit achieved by this project must be submitted. However, unlike LEED Canada NC 2009, this letter may cover the commitment in general terms and need not address each prerequisite or credit individually.
For more information refer to the Incomplete Spaces and Tenant Sales and Lease Agreement portions under Maintaining Consistency in the Getting Started section in the Credit Library.
LEED Credit Library (the online Reference Guide) – new features available for FREE
Looking for credit specific requirements and submittal tips? Refer to the LEED Credit Library online… for FREE. The Credit Library contains each credit from each version of each rating system. Once a given credit is selected the Intent and Requirements can be found on the Language tab. The Language tab also includes sample LEED Forms, any SITES-LEED equivalencies and Pilot alternative compliance paths. The Resources tab now includes a lot of very useful submittal tips, calculators, links to third party guidance documents and standards and informational videos. The Addenda tab includes any relevant reference guide corrections, LEED Interpretations, and LEED Form updates.
Curious about LEED v4, but not sure where to start? Review the entire Getting Started, Minimum Program Requirements, Rating System Selection Guidance sections of the BD+C, ID+C, O+M, Homes, and ND LEED v4 Reference Guides online for FREE. The Getting Started sections are particularly helpful when looking for direction about project boundaries, occupancy, incomplete spaces, Tenant Sales and Lease Agreement, and the Campus Program. They typically address issues that span an entire rating system.
Then move on to the Credit Category Overviews sections of the BD+C, ID+C, O+M, Homes, and ND LEED v4 Reference Guides also online for FREE. The Credit Category Overview sections are particularly helpful when looking for information about qualifying products and material contributions for the Materials and Resources credits, or information about occupied vs non occupied spaces, and floor area calculations for the Indoor Environmental Quality credits. They typically address issues that span an entire credit category.
Once you are ready to get into the details and start using LEED v4, the online Reference Guide will be your most valuable resource. Complete with Step by Step Guidance, Further Explanation, Calculations, and Changes from LEED 2009, the Guide provides the necessary information to inform your project’s design. An annual subscription to the Web-based Reference Guide can be purchased which will unlock the Guide tab, providing access to all the information contained in the printed LEED v4 Reference Guides. For the price of a single subscription, users have access to all LEED v4 rating system families.
- Submittal Tips from LEED v4 Reviewers are now available for free in Online Credit Library, under Resources.
- Useful explanatory videos are also available now for free, like this example from Rainwater Management.
The USGBC releases LEED Addenda quarterly which includes clarifications, corrections and new interpretations for each LEED rating system. The most recent addenda were released October 2nd, 2017. Each addenda (cumulative or each individual) can be found on the resources section of the USGBC website. For project teams that prefer hard copies or PDFs of reference guides, be sure to download and refer to each new addendum as they are released for current direction.
If you didn’t get the chance to read last quarter’s addenda, for improved convenience, rating system and reference guide corrections are incorporated into the LEED credit library with each addendum release. Project teams need only refer to one resource when using the online guide and will never miss a correction.
Receive early feedback on your LEED v4 project
Curious how your LEED v4 Design and Construction project will fare? Not sure if it’s on track to meet your certification targets? Submit it under Split Review! A split review is available to all LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C projects through LEED Online. Submit all design prerequisites and credits for review at the end of the design phase (before the project is substantially complete) and incorporate the design review outcomes into the construction of your project at a time when changes can more readily be made. Then submit the remaining construction prerequisites and credits at the end of the construction phase, lessening the volume of work for your team of professionals at project completion. Note that design credits may still be submitted with the construction submission, if desired.
Interested, but not sure which are design and which are construction credits? Refer to Table 2, in the Getting Started section of the LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C Reference Guides. You can read the entire Getting Started section of the BD+C and ID+C Reference Guides online.