As reported in the July 2010 issue of National Floor Trends, flooring contractors face both administrative and technical challenges related to their ever-growing involvement with LEED projects. This observation was made following an online survey that was conducted by MAPEI early last year. This article outlines recent new developments that are designed to provide greater and timelier assistance to contractors in keeping with the needs that the flooring contractors expressed in their survey responses.
LEED Product Certification Letters
The most frequently mentioned administrative challenge, (by almost 27% of the survey respondents) was insufficient LEED-related assistance or information provided by suppliers. Product certification letters that outline the contribution of products to LEED points are the most commonly requested information from suppliers; and almost 50% of the contractors mentioned this as one of their greatest support needs.
The traditional method of obtaining such information has been to receive it by e-mail after a request is sent to a supplier. The shortcoming of this approach is the time between a request being received by a supplier and the response being sent to a contractor. In addition, this manual approach can result in wasted time and effort due to misunderstandings that can occur during the communication between a contractor and supplier.
An effective solution is an online system that enables contractors to obtain LEED product certification letters anytime and automatically. All a contractor needs to do is provide basic information about the project so that the system can determine, among other things, point contribution to the regional materials credit by calculating the distance between a product’s manufacturing location and the job site.
This time-saving and effortless process is one way of alleviating the administrative challenge that contractors face in obtaining LEED product certification letters. As indicated in Figure 1, the letter can be formatted so that one can quickly see the various LEED credits and whether a chosen product helps contribute to points or not. This approach is taken to ensure that the necessary information can be obtained from the letter without wasting time.
A question on the survey asked the contractors to indicate the main challenge they face in understanding the requirements for LEED projects. Approximately 24% of the contractors mentioned difficulty in understanding the point contribution of products in keeping with LEED requirements as one of their challenges.
One approach for providing a solution to this problem is through an online tutorial on a manufacturer’s website. The tutorial should be easily accessible and should outline the various credits under each of the seven categories where points can be earned (Figure 2) and the requirements to qualify for those points.
For example, under the Water Efficiency category (Figure 3), visitors could explore four different credits where points can be earned. This tool should describe the intent and requirements of each credit in the seven categories, including our other example, for Materials and Resources (Figure 4).
Contractors and architects can also use a tool for keeping track of all the points earned for a project or the number of points to which materials selected for a project contribute in all the relevant categories (Figure 5). This can be one easy way for a contractor to keep track of all the LEED point contributions related to a given project. The project can be new construction or major renovation, school or core and shell.
Note: Visit www.mapei.com/US-EN/good.asp to see a live example of the company’s LEED-related tools.