This credit requires surveying building occupants to find out if they are satisfied with thermal conditions in the building, as defined by the thermal comfort variables defined in ASHRAE 55-2004. The credit costs little or nothing to implement (although it does take some time), and provides important feedback to building owners and operators.
If you have the internal staff resources and don’t want to pay for an outside service, you can go with a simple self-administered online survey.
If you want some hand-holding, can afford the (relatively low) fee, and are interested in a more comprehensive occupant survey (beyond just thermal performance) that gives you results in the context of a large dataset, use the service from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment or something similar.
Services that specialize in occupant surveys, such as CBE, can provide results for your project on a curve with other results, which helps put the feedback in context. Image – IDeAsSome owners may have reservations about surveying occupants because they’re worried about getting poor results. Doing the survey through a third-party service that specializes in post-occupancy evaluations can help with that fear by returning individual building results in the context of results from many other buildings. If the survey turns up some weak areas, you’re likely to be in good company!
This credit also requires installation of a permanent monitoring system for NC and CI projects. The LEED Reference Guide provides no specific detail on the requirements for permanent monitoring systems, system components, or what to monitor. However, LEED-EBOM 2009 credit IEQc2.3 defines requirements for permanent monitoring that are a useful guideline:
Through communication with GBCI, LEEDuser has been told that "For the purposes of this credit in the LEED BD&C rating systems, a permanent monitoring system is defined as having regular, repeated comfort surveys distributed to the building occupants."
Develop a plan for corrective action in case more than 20% of respondents report dissatisfaction with thermal comfort. It is up to the owner and operations staff to determine how to implement the plan. For example, if occupants indicate that they are uncomfortable, the HVAC system is inspected and tested and there are no faults found with the HVAC system, technically you’ve done what’s required. (Although, it is a good practice to make operating adjustments until your occupants are reasonably comfortable!)
In general, implementing the plan is something that usually happens after the project is already LEED-certified. You have to do something to honor your commitment, but how far you go is up to you.
You don’t gain anything by waiting to submit for this credit until the construction submittal, but if you want to wait and see whether you’ll need the point before committing to it, you can. (Whether or not you pursue the credit, surveying occupants about their satisfaction is a good practice.)
The owner is the required signatory for this credit and has to verify that that the survey will be performed, along with a plan for corrective action.
Implementation of the occupant survey is the most difficult part of this credit. The occupant survey is to be implemented after six months of occupancy at the earliest. This credit is largely based on the honor system. There is no enforcement mechanism in place to confirm that the credit will be implemented after 6 months of occupancy or that the plan of corrective action be administered if 20% of survey respondents are dissatisfied with system performance, but the owner’s organizational integrity is at stake if they fail to live up to their commitments.
LEED defines a permanent monitoring system as having regular, repeated comfort surveys distributed to the building occupants.
Additional approaches could include use of a building automation system if sensor locations are adequately distributed throughout occupied spaces, and air speed and radiant temperature testing with the use of handheld meters or other monitoring equipment. See LEED-EBOM IEQc2.3 for additional ideas on permanent monitoring systems.
The survey must measure thermal comfort conditions and satisfaction based on ASHRAE 55-2004 thermal comfort criteriaComfort criteria are specific design conditions that take into account temperature, humidity, air speed, outdoor temperature, outdoor humidity, seasonal clothing, and expected activity. (ASHRAE 552004), and is to be measured by a 7-point scale format (+3 = very satisfied, 0 = neutral, -3 = very dissatisfied). Although USGBC does not require a specific means to administer the survey, there are a few options out there that can be easy for the project team to implement. Surveys can be done by phone, networked computer, website or a paper questionnaire. Web–based surveys can compile data readily and generate results that can be helpful in evaluating responses. See the Resources tab for links.
The seven-point scale is referred to in the Implementation section for this credit in the LEED Reference Guide, and LEEDuser has heard that a requirement for such a scale has been consistently called for by reviewers.
Our understanding is that LEED is following the Likert 7-point scale as a standard. It is the most widely used and accepted approach to scaling questions in survey research. Likert scales can be 5-point but there is some debate in the survey world about 7-point being better.
No, LEED does not define a minimum number of occupants that need to respond to the survey. However, if 20% of those that do respond are dissatisfied or uncomfortable, corrective action plan must be put in place.
Residential projects are not eligible for this credit; however, some dorms would not be considered "residential."
Projects can apply to the 40/60 rule in the Rating System Selection Guidance, and if less than 60% of the gross floor areaGross floor area (based on ASHRAE definition) is the sum of the floor areas of the spaces within the building, including basements, mezzanine and intermediate‐floored tiers, and penthouses wi th headroom height of 7.5 ft (2.2 meters) or greater. Measurements m ust be taken from the exterior 39 faces of exterior walls OR from the centerline of walls separating buildings, OR (for LEED CI certifying spaces) from the centerline of walls separating spaces. Excludes non‐en closed (or non‐enclosable) roofed‐over areas such as exterior covered walkways, porches, terraces or steps, roof overhangs, and similar features. Excludes air shafts, pipe trenches, and chimneys. Excludes floor area dedicated to the parking and circulation of motor vehicles. ( Note that while excluded features may not be part of the gross floor area, and therefore technically not a part of the LEED project building, they may still be required to be a part of the overall LEED project and subject to MPRs, prerequisites, and credits.) of the dormitory building qualify as "residential," per the glossary in that document, then the project would be eligible for this credit. Dormitory units that don't have their own cooking area, bathroom facilities, and sleeping area would not be defined as ‘residential’ spaces.
Note that per the USGBC's IEQ Space Matrix, Hotels are eligible for IEQc7.2 and the guest rooms must be included in the credit requirements.
Can you earn this credit? Check for occupancy type (residential projects cannot pursue this credit) and confirm whether you can also achieve credit IEQc7.1, which you have to earn to get credit for IEQc7.2.
Discuss the suitability of a system that is capable of permanently monitoring comfort criteria as related to ASHARE 55-2004. Address this early on in the design, as credit compliance requires this type of system.
This is generally a low- or no-cost credit in terms of capital costs. There will be some staff time associated with developing and processing survey results.
The credit does require inclusion of a permanent building monitoring system, however. This may:
Monitoring building systems will help project teams identify areas where the systems are not functioning as designed. Correcting these inefficiencies may provide cost savings that would not otherwise be revealed.
This design credit is implemented after the project is complete and the building is occupied. Through design development, the primary concern is to meet the requirements of IEQc7.1 and to include a permanent monitoring system.
It is also helpful for projects attempting this credit to pursue IEQc6.2: Controllability of Systems—Thermal Comfort. When occupants have control of their thermal comfort they tend to be more satisfied.
Review the requirements for survey content and review the requirements for the plan for corrective action.
Review the relevant environmental variables defined by ASHRAE 55-2004:
Develop a survey that addresses measurement of these variables (see below for more details), or contract with a third-party occupant survey service. You can find a sample thermal comfort survey in Appendix E of ASHRAE-55.
Develop the thermal comfort survey after determining space programming, designing the mechanical system, and confirming compliance with IEQc7.1. It is best to customize the occupant survey for the building’s planned HVAC systems. Questions may be structured differently depending on whether you are assessing the performance of an evaporative cooling system, an in-floor radiant heating system, or a natural ventilation system. For example, a team may include questions about humidity levels for a project with an evaporative cooling system, while questions for a project with a natural ventilation system may be focused more on occupant satisfaction with airflow or controllability of the thermal environment.
Develop a compliant occupant survey or map out your planned survey process (if you’ll be using a third-party survey) prior to submitting your documentation for review. Early on, the primary concern is to meet the requirements of IEQc7.1.
For $1,000 you can also use a well-tested and robust survey from the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California–Berkeley. This tool handles most of the logistical and administrative tasks for you, and gives you results in the context of results from hundreds of other buildings. (See Resources.)
Using a comprehensive Occupant Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Survey service like the one from UC Berkeley offers you the possibility of gleaning useful information on many other aspects of your indoor environment beyond thermal comfort. You can also customize it to learn occupant responses to specific features of your building. And getting your results mapped alongside others is very useful.
Customize the occupant survey for system type and building programming per ASHRAE 55-2004.
Have the commissioning agent, mechanical engineer, or O&M staff review the survey draft and develop the plan for corrective action. Involve the owner in this process and be sure that he or she understands the purpose of the survey and plan for corrective action. The owner will be responsible for signing off on the LEED documentation, verifying the implementation of the survey, and the development of the corrective action plan.
Survey participants must remain anonymous, but ideally they should provide information on their location. For example, you may want them to indicate on which floor and directional face (north, south, east, west) of the building they are located (or wing or program area). Doing so helps to better identify problem areas.
Determine the implementation process for the survey and who will administer it.
Administering an online survey through a third-party provider helps to retain respondent anonymity and tabulate results. Paper surveys that use a drop-box are also permissible.
Surveys must address all of the thermal comfort variables addressed in IEQc7.1 and ASHRAE-55. Informative Appendix E of ASHRAE-55 provides an example of survey variables and content. Also, refer to the Documentation Toolkit for sample surveys.
At a minimum, thermal comfort surveys should address the following:
Base information about level of satisfaction with thermal conditions on a 7-point scale.
Verify that all systems slated for installation in the building are able to properly interface with the thermal comfort monitoring system.
If the commissioning agent or MEP is developing the plan for corrective action, make sure that the owner and O&M staff review and understand it so they can implement it if needed.
A plan for corrective action should include system inspection to confirm proper operation, adjustment of set points, change in operating schedule, increasing air volumes, and other basic HVAC management measures.
Engage the commissioning agent in this credit as soon as they are brought onto the project, as they may be able to offer valuable insight into appropriate survey questions and offer help with developing a plan for corrective action.
Some teams may elect to have the commissioning agent manage this credit and administer the survey as a final step in their commissioning scope. The commissioning agent will likely have a strong grasp of appropriate survey questions and will be involved in making adjustments to the operating ranges and schedule to optimize performance.
Consider including questions that address issues outside of ASHRAE 55-2004, such as acoustics, lighting and other comfort or productivity issues. The survey process is a great opportunity to measure building performance beyond ASHRAE 55-2004 and thermal comfort.
Include specifications for the building monitoring system.
Include specifications for O&M and the plan for corrective action.
If the HVAC engineer, commissioning agent, or other team members will be involved in developing and/or implementing this credit after construction, include that in the specifications.
Be sure to include requirements for IEQc7.1 and IEQc7.2 in the specifications.
Verify proper installation and commissioning of the building monitoring system.
Conduct the survey after 6–18 months of occupancy. Survey all regular building occupants, including employees, staff, and other building users.
Compile survey results and review them to identify trends that reflect good or poor system performance.
Compare survey results with the outputs of the building monitoring system to identify areas of the building that are not functioning as expected.
Consider surveying building occupants several times throughout the year. This is not a LEED requirement but may produce more meaningful data about how the building is performing. Also, if you implement any changes from the corrective action plan, you may want to administer a survey after implementation to verify that the problems were adequately addressed.
If 20% or more of survey respondents are dissatisfied with their thermal comfort, implement the plan for corrective action.
There may be some cost impact for implementing the survey, compiling results, and, if necessary, making adjustments per the plan of corrective action. This cost impact is just based on time investment, not capital investment.
Cost will vary depending on the size of the project, number of occupants surveyed, and whether or not adjustments to the system need to be made. Unless you pay for a third-party surveying or post-occupancy evaluation service, there are no direct costs to be incurred beyond the effort and time investment.
There is an indirect cost benefit in ensuring that occupants are comfortable and that systems are working correctly, both of which will maximize productivity and efficiency.
Surveys can be administered in a variety of ways—by phone, networked computer, web-based survey, or paper questionnaire. A web-based survey program can automatically compile data and generate relevant results.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Commercial Interiors
To provide for the assessment of occupant thermal comfort over time.
Achieve IEQ Credit 7.1: Thermal Comfort – Design
Provide a permanent monitoring system and process for corrective action to ensure that building performance meets the desired comfort criteriaComfort criteria are specific design conditions that take into account temperature, humidity, air speed, outdoor temperature, outdoor humidity, seasonal clothing, and expected activity. (ASHRAE 552004) as determined by IEQ Credit 7.1: Thermal Comfort—Design.
Agree to conduct a thermal comfort survey of tenant spaceTenant space is the area within the LEED project boundary. For more information on what can and must be in the LEED project boundary see the Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) and LEED 2009 MPR Supplemental Guidance. Note: tenant space is the same as project space. occupants within 6 to 18 months after occupancy. This survey should collect anonymous responses about thermal comfort in the tenant space including an assessment of overall satisfaction with thermal performance and identification of thermal comfort problems. Agree to develop a plan for corrective action if the survey results indicate that more than 20% of occupants are dissatisfied with thermal comfort in the tenant space This plan should include measurement of relevant environmental variables in problem areas in accordance with the standard used for design in IEQ Credit 7.1: Thermal Comfort—Design.
ASHRAE Standard 55-2004 provides guidance for establishing thermal comfort criteriaComfort criteria are specific design conditions that take into account temperature, humidity, air speed, outdoor temperature, outdoor humidity, seasonal clothing, and expected activity. (ASHRAE 552004) and documenting and validating building performance to the criteria. While the standard is not intended for purposes of continuous monitoring and maintenance of the thermal environment, the principles expressed in the standard provide a basis for the design of monitoring and corrective action systems.
This updated version of the spreadsheet categories dozens of specific space types according to how they should be applied under various IEQ credits. This document is essential if you have questions about how various unique space types should be treated. Up to date, 2nd Edition.
This spreadsheet categories dozens of specific space types according to how they should be applied under various IEQ credits. This document is essential if you have questions about how various unique space types should be treated. This is the 1st edition.
Web-based survey administrator–can be used to administer occupant surveys.
For a fee, this resource provides a template for creating a survey, and provides opportunity for the project team to contribute their project data to greater green building efforts.
Great tips and guidance on how to find out what works and doesn’t work in buildings, including occupant surveys.
Use a thermal comfort survey like this template to assess occupant comfort according to the credit requirements.
These sample narrative and plans for corrective action provide references as you develop your own narrative and plan for this credit. The corrective action plan guidance document provides a set of questions to consider in developing your project building's plan.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each CI-2009 IEQ credit. You'll need to fill out the live versions of these forms on LEED Online for each credit you hope to earn.
Version 4 forms (newest):
Version 3 forms:
These links are posted by LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. USGBC has certain usage restrictions for these forms; for more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."
Documentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.
What would happen if the owner forgets to implement the survey within the 6-18 months period of time?
My company is going to be a tenant in a new space where will not have the capability to increase/introduce humidity as we are tying into the Building Management System.
The current Building Management System does not have humidity monitoring and all HVAC systems being installed are running off the base building air handling units. We will use VAVVariable Air Volume (VAV) is an HVAC conservation feature that supplies varying quantities of conditioned (heated or cooled) air to different parts of a building according to the heating and cooling needs of those specific areas. and Induction units.
Can my project still pursue this credit for our LEED Certification even though we do not have the capability to alter the humidity in our space?
Any insight on this problem? One of my projects has the same scenario, and we need this point to stay in the project's target certification range. Please let us know. Thanks!
I think the credit requirements are quite plain that humidity monitoring and control is required.
If anyone has a different understanding or experience, or wants to contact GBCI for guidance or a ruling, please post about it here!
I work on a lot of projects in California where humidity typically isn’t an issue and is rarely monitored. In the past we have been awarded this credit even on projects without humidity monitoring. Often our documentation is submitted with little mention of humidity and we await comments on how to address the issue. We haven’t yet been questioned on our documentation.
The LEED 2009 Missing Manual makes mention of “regular, repeated comfort surveys” as a form of permanent monitoring. We have a handful of projects that are looking at this option now. Of course owners want to know how often these “regular, repeated comfort surveys” need to happen and for how long, which we don’t have clarification on. We suggest once a year for 3 years (after the initial survey) as a starting point, but we will need to wait to see what the review teams say.
I have read that hotels are elligible for credit IEQ 7.2.
If the hotel is composed of branded residences (with a basic kitchen without all equipments) and traditional rooms for the hotel, is it still elligible for the credit?
Michele, I would say so, yes.
We just received a question from our certification team asking us to clarify the frequency of the comfort survey? Reading the reference guide it states "frequency and survey responding result procedure" shall be provided. We could find no place (CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide, Addenda) where the frequency is recommended.
The space is an oncology treatment facility, which by its nature has a very transient user population. It seems unreasonable to survey patients and family on an ongoing basis.
We are considering proposing a 3, 6, 12 or 18 month frequency. We have seen 3 months accepted, but this seems to place a burden on the staff of the space. The 6 month would capture winter/summer seasonal swings, but seems very frequent. 12 months feels more reasonable, but would not capture the seasonal swing. 18 months would capture the seasonal swing but seems fairly infrequent.
This is the first project we have received this comment on (after the point was marked anticipated in the initial review with no comments.) Thanks for your help.
To clarify, we do not see it as unreasonable to include patients and family in the surveys when they are given (all 3,6,12, or 18 months), rather we do not want to survey all patients/families continuously.
We've gotten the point previously by simply stating when the survey would be done (in 3 cases = "once; 12 months after occupancy"). Frequency was never mentioned, but maybe they've gotten more particular. The ASHRAE 55-2010 standard seems to think 6 mons. is appropriate ..."Since the survey results encompass a larger timeframe,
the survey can be made every six months or
repeated in heating and/or cooling seasons. It is recommended
that the first thermal satisfaction survey be done
at least six months after a new building has been occupied
in order to identify and help avoid typical new-building
problems/complaints. Since satisfaction may vary under
different operational modes (i.e., seasons, weather), a
survey conducted in one mode should not be generalized
to other modes of operation."
For this credit, does the LEED team need to provide the result from this survey? Is there a requirement to survey all occupants in tenant spaceTenant space is the area within the LEED project boundary. For more information on what can and must be in the LEED project boundary see the Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) and LEED 2009 MPR Supplemental Guidance. Note: tenant space is the same as project space.? LEED EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. IEQ c2.1 states “The survey must be collected from a representative sample of building occupants making up at least 30 % of the total occupants”. Dose this statement apply to LEED CI?
James, there's been some good discussion on this issue over on the forum for the NC version of this credit.
It's our understanding that all occupants must be surveyed or at least have an opportunity to be included.
Since the survey will most likely take place after your certification is awarded, you don't have to provide the results, only commit to doing the survey.
Are you certain this must be provided in addition to a survey for NC and CI projects? The CI reference guide (page 389) states "Analyzing environmental variables (typically by monitoring space temperature and relative humidity) is an ALTERNATIVE APPROACH [emphasis added] to determining if a facility is providing thermal comfort for its occupants..." and later goes on to state, "Even though this credit DOES NOT REQUIRE A MONITORING SYSTEM [emphasis added] in addition to occupant surveying to verify the thermal comfort conditions, it might be beneficial..."
On the small CI project we are helping to get certified, I don't see the owner wanting to go to the expense of sensors in dozens of small offices and exam rooms, spitting out data at 15 minute intervals that would have to be processed and analyzed by someone on their staff. I think they feel that they'd rather rely on the survey results.
This is something that the LEEDuser team has come up against as well. We are still working to bring the specifics of the requirements for monitoring systems into focus. While you are correct that the CI Reference Guide clearly states that monitoring systems are optional, the CI credit form provides a check box that must be filled for a point to register in the credit form. A similar check box appears in the NC credit form. I would encourage you to contact the GBCI to request clarification on the requirements, however past experience indicates that "permanent monitoring systems" can be as basic as programmable thermostats that measure temperature and humidity. It may be best to plan for the more stringent approach until you can confirm the less stringent approach via the GBCI.
Has anyone found any more clarity on this? Permanent monitoring system required or not?
There's an addenda item from 7-19-10 that removes the above mentioned paragraph from the RG stating "...even though this credit DOES NOT REQUIRE A MONITORING SYSTEM..."
That's all I've come up with.
The paragraph referred to above, "Even though this credit does not require a monitoring system..." has been removed through the release of an addenda. You can review this addenda item by searching the LEED InterpretationLEED Interpretations are official answers to technical inquiries about implementing LEED on a project. They help people understand how their projects can meet LEED requirements and provide clarity on existing options. LEED Interpretations are to be used by any project certifying under an applicable rating system. All project teams are required to adhere to all LEED Interpretations posted before their registration date. This also applies to other addenda. Adherence to rulings posted after a project registers is optional, but strongly encouraged. LEED Interpretations are published in a searchable database at usgbc.org. database, found through this link https://www.usgbc.org/LeedInterpretations/LILanding.aspx, for ID number 100000161. When searching be sure to have the "entry types include "Rating System Addenda" and "Reference Guide Addenda".
I tried but cannot get the IEQc7.2 form (version 3.0 of the form) to show the point 'earned' without putting an X in the monitoring system box in question so it seems like a credit requirement to me.
I searched the database and found that the fifth paragraph, "Even though this credit does not require a monitoring system...", of page 389 is deleted. However the second paragraph remains where it says that it is an "alternate approach". The LEED Online form requires both, so I guess both is what I should do, or?
Institute for the Built Environment
Thermal comfort controls will contribute to occupant satisfaction with thermal conditions.
IEQc7.2 is designed to help confirm the effectiveness of IEQc7.1, which must first be achieved.
IEQc7.2 can provide valuable information for the commissioning process, particularly for ongoing commissioning. Teams may elect for the commissioning agent to manage IEQc7.2.
IEQc7.2 requires that a permanent monitoring system be in place. Meeting this credit requirement is likely if teams are pursuing an M&V credit.
Do you know which LEED credits have the most LEED Interpretations and addenda, and which have none? The Missing Manual does. Check here first to see where you need to update yourself, and share the link with your team.
LEEDuser members get it free >
LEEDuser is produced by BuildingGreen, Inc., with YR&G authoring most of the original content. LEEDuser enjoys ongoing collaboration with USGBC. Read more about our team
Copyright 2014 – BuildingGreen, Inc.