LEED 101: Audits

I never thought I’d be so comfortable with the word audit. Most people shudder and conjure nightmarish images of the IRS. In the LEED world audits are friendly and more akin to a ‘feedback process.’ I always recommend audits to my clients, not just for ‘easy’ LEED Points, but ideally to asses your current condition in order to find opportunities to improve.

When you begin your LEED performance period for existing building certification, you will most likely consider completing multiple audits of both the facility and occupant behavior. LEED audits range in level of complexity from the simple and straight forward plumbing fixture counts to the long and dirty waste stream audits. Understanding your resources and partners is key to maximizing your time and effort. Let’s take a look at who we need to get involved.

1) Property Managers & Building Engineers. Start with the basics of floor plans and mechanical schedules. Any existing documentation about the current operating conditions and installed equipment.

2) Vendors. Reach out early to your service providers for landscape irrigation, waste & recycling, and janitorial. Each discipline has an associated LEED audit to measure performance based on actual practice. They should want to improve their program to meet your environmental policies. If not, shop around for someone who does.

3) Occupants. This audience should not be overlooked. Your occupants can provide very important feedback about a) their commuting habits (worth 15 points) and b) their thermal comfort. Watch out for dissatisfied occupants, if more than 20% are unhappy with temperature or acoustics, you need to implement a plan to correct it.

Today I’m working on coordinating the waste stream audit. It requires the property manager, janitorial, and waste hauler to all reach an understanding of time, place, and process. Our goal is to identify how much recyclable material gets thrown in the trash. Once we retrieve this data, we can communicate it back to the occupants completing the feedback loop on their own behaviors. Audits are your friend!

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