Key LEED 2009 Interpretations
There are hundreds of LEED Interpretations, so which ones might be really useful to your projects? The following are some notes of key Interpretations from the latest quarterly release—for January 2013. We hope to keep updating this page, and invite you to note Interpretations that you find noteworthy. Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.
We'll start off with some basics:
- Project teams are required to adhere to rating system addenda and LEED Interpretations based on LEED registration date.
- LEED Interpretations are applicable for all projects. If relying on them to earn a credit, particularly if you are using them in an Alternative Compliance Path, it's helpful (and often required) to cite them in your documentation.
- There are two places to access all Interpretations: the Interpretations database, and the LEED credit libary. (As of this posting, the credit library doesn't have the latest round of Interpretations, unfortunately.)
- For a deeper look that goes further back in time and covers many issues related to Interpretations, including key addenda, see LEEDuser's Missing Manual.
January 1, 2013 Release
See all 16 new 1/1/2013 LEED Interpretations: #10259–10274. (note: you may need to sign in to USGBC.org for this link and other links below to work). Here are some highlights from the 1/1/2013 quarterly release: (not mentioned here are a couple with limited applicability, and a couple less-interesting Homes and ND interpretations)
- 10246: A confusing Interpretation on using national averages for recycled content claims has been clarified, and is less restrctive than it immediately appeared.
- 10259: Allowance for LEED-EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. Residential projects with non-master metered units to collect a statistically significant sample of utility data from the residential unit space.
- 10261: Clarification that the LEED project boundary may be different than the boundary drawn for ENERGY STAR for LEED-EBOM projects.
- 10263: Applicable under CI EAc1.3, a proposal to expand an exemption for active controls for small temporary use office spaces is turned down—with considerable detail.
- 10264: Applicable to EBOM EAc4, points for cannot be achieved based on PV system specifications in lieu of actual solar system performance monitoring during the performance period.
- 10265: Guidance on using shared dumpsters for one-off LEED projects for MRc2. It's allowed, with some conditions.
- 10267: When claiming a mineral-based flooring exemption under IEQc4.3, mark an ACP and enter product details in the narrative (rather than entering the product in the main credit form).
- 10268: Details on the A/V dual-mode lighting requirement for Schools IEQc6.1. Any strategy that allows easy switching to an A/V friendly lighting environment, i.e. with reduced illumination on a projection screen, is acceptable.
- 10270: How to earn an ID credit under BD&C systems for construction energy use related to lighting and temporary heat. Detailed requirements.
- 10271: A "green team" strategy to recognize individuals for commitments to environmental awareness actions is not a viable Innovation credit unto itself—proven innovation credits relative to education focus on multiple strategies relative to the building. (Applicable to EBOM, but a good lesson more generally.)
- 10274: CC&R (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) exemption for existing residential properties in ND projects that are not 100% newly developed.
- Also, 28 Interpretations have been modified with new notes, applicability matrices, etc. Those 28 inquiry numbers are: 808, 1547, 1622, 1741, 1898, 2342, 3105, 5033, 5115, 5272, 5819, 5847, 5986, 10080, 10114, 10120, 10146, 10202, 10215, 10216, 10223, 10236, 10239, 10241, 10243, 10246, 10250, 10252.
April 1, 2013 Release
Eight new LEED Interpretations were published 4/1/2013, #10275–10282. Here are highlights:
- 10276: Clarifies that campus projects may utilize a wastewater treatment facility located outside of the LEED project boundary as long as it is within the campus boundary, and treated water must be infiltrated or used onsite by the project. It also notes that nonpotable waterNonpotable water: does not meet EPA's drinking water quality standards and is not approved for human consumption by the state or local authorities having jurisdiction. Water that is unsafe or unpalatable to drink because it contains pollutants, contaminants, minerals, or infective agents. supplied to a project by such a campus system would be considered like a municipally supplied source for other WE credits.
- 10279: Disallows excluding high-activity spaces like gyms, or spaces that normally are not conditioned like warehouses from IEQc7, but offers an alternative calculation method for gyms, and an alternate compliance method for warehouses based on design alternatives such as radiant flooring; circulating fans; passive systems, such as nighttime air, heat venting, or wind flow; and localized active cooling. We asked our LEEDuser expert Chris Schaffner of The Green Engineer what he thought about this Intepretation. He says it clarifies things, but doesn't help where help is needed: '95% of the people struggling with this are public schools with gyms. They should just make the gyms exempt,'" he opined.
USGBC also modified 6 Interpretations with new notes and applicability. Those numbers are: 1956, 5819, 10062, 10117, 10217, and 10250. Here are some highlights that we noticed:
- 10250: This ruling on melamine formaldehyde1. Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring VOC found in small amounts in animals and plants but is carcinogenic and an irritant to most people when present in high concentrations, causing headaches, dizziness, mental impairment, and other symptoms. When present in the air at levels above 0.1 ppm, it can cause watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; nausea; coughing; chest tightness; wheezing; skin rashes; and asthmatic and allergic reactions. 2. A known carcinogen with no known safe exposure level. Formaldehyde occurs naturally, but appears in unnaturally high concentrations in many buildings because it is an ingredient in binders used in many building materials and furnishings. has been updated—we have more detail here about the New Rules for Formaldehyde in IEQc4.4.
- 10217: This ruling was updated on 4/1/13. It states that all LEED projects can choose to include or exclude athletic fields at the project teams discretion from BD&C WEc1 and EBOM WEc3, but that this should be done consistently with other credits. The 4/1/13 update specifies that they should be included or excluded consistenlty with other WE credits.
- 5819: Originally issued 8/31/2004, this Interpretation has been made applicable to NC-v2.2 and NC-v2009 projects, and thereby gives clear direction on how to earn an Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. point under IDc1 for process waterProcess water is used for industrial processes and building systems such as cooling towers, boilers, and chillers. It can also refer to water used in operational processes, such as dishwashing, clothes washing, and ice making. use reduction. A process is described for demonstrating a "process water savings that is equal to or greater than 10% of the regulated water usage as calculated in WEc3.
Have you seen any notable LEED Interpretations, or any implications of this release? Please comment below.
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