To earn this credit, implement an occupant comfort survey and take steps to remedy problems identified through survey responses. The credit is readily achievable and can help make your occupants happier.
Project teams often make the mistake of using an incomplete survey format that doesn’t include questions covering each required occupant comfort category. To avoid this problem, use a recommended online survey tool or follow someone else’s template—see the Documentation Toolkit and Resources sections for samples.
Costs to develop and distribute the survey will be minimal if you use in-house staff and start with a template, or use an online service that does all this for you.
Thermal comfort conditions that satisfy everyone are challenging to maintain in almost any building.Make sure that you’re willing to take corrective action if you find 20% or greater dissatisfaction on any criteria. Some corrections just require adjusting set points. If you do have to make repairs or changes to systems there will be some cost, but it might also lead to savings by improving efficiencies in your mechanical or lighting systems.
Project teams often find it challenging to meet the 30% response rate. Be sure to explain the purpose of the survey and the value of earning LEED certification. Emphasize the benefits to occupants. Be creative and fun. Use raffles or prizes—just keep the survey responses anonymous.
No, guests are transient visitors that should not be surveyed for IEQc2.1.
Yes, offering a prize to increase your survey response rate is acceptable, and even encouraged. Just be sure that names aren’t attached to responses. This credit requires that you collect anonymous responses so that occupants feel comfortable responding truthfully.
It’s wise to plan your survey with adequate time to remedy potential issues. Remember that the performance period for any prerequisite or credit can last for a maximum of 24 months, at the discretion of the project team. That gives you lots of time to address issues before the end of the shared three-month performance period.
Taking corrective action doesn’t necessarily require that you make making large changes or investments. Corrective action is more likely to consist of fairly minor activities like checking and adjusting temperature setpointsSetpoints are normal operating ranges for building systems and indoor environmental quality. When the building systems are outside of their normal operating range, action is taken by the building operator or automation system., adding task lighting, or educating occupants. You should take meaningful steps to try and remedy the problems identified through the survey, but you’re not expected to make wholesale changes to building systems or infrastructure.
Develop an occupant comfort survey that collects occupant feedback on satisfaction with:
The most common mistake with this credit is to use a survey that doesn’t include questions covering each of the five required occupant comfort categories.
You don’t need to create your own survey—you can follow someone else’s template to ensure that your survey contains all the required topic areas. See the Documentation Toolkit for a basic Sample Occupant Survey.
The Center for the Built Environment (CBE) offers an effective online survey tool that collects the required data and provides a completed report upon completion. (See Resources.)
The CBE online survey tool is available for free to CBE Consortium members. The fee for non-members is $1,000 per building. Customizing the survey costs more, but isn’t needed to earn this credit.
This credit references ASHRAE Standard 55-2004, Thermal Comfort Conditions for Human Occupancy. This standard specifies the combination of indoor environment (temperature, thermal radiation, humidity and airspeed) and personal factors (occupant activity and clothing) that typically make at least 80% of building occupants comfortable.
Make sure your survey is set up to capture a wide range of responses for each question. For example, present answers on a 7-point scale ranging from “very satisified” (+3) to “very dissatisfied” (-3) with a neutral (0) midpoint. You can adjust the scale increments to fit your needs; using a 7-point scale is not a credit requirement.
Survey responses must be collected anonymously, but it’s also important to match responses to particular building locations or zones so that you can take the right corrective action.
Use annual surveys to track occupant comfort issues over time. Map out an administrative timeline for distributing the initial survey as well as annual follow-up surveys.
Develop an easy system to collect comfort comments from building occupants any time. Set up the system to communicate comments to the proper building personnel. Log corrective actions and report them back to the occupants who registered the complaint or are in the affected area.
You can develop the survey language and occupant feedback system in-house at minimal cost, especially if you choose to use an appropriate existing survey sample as a starting point.
Distribute the occupant comfort survey at least once during the performance period to a representative sample of building occupants. Be sure to survey occupants working in all major space types and from a variety of areas within the building.
To achieve the required 30% response rate, you don’t have to distribute the survey to all occupants. It’s worth considering, though, in order to maximize your response rate and to get a variety of feedback.
The 30% response requirement applies to regular building occupants. In a commercial building, these are defined as workers who have a permanent office or workstation, or who typically spend at least 10 hours per week in the building. For residential buildings, regular occupants also include everyone who lives in the building.
Tabulate the survey results and create a summary report to document the responses and response rates. (See an example in the Documentation Toolkit.)
If the survey results show that more than 20% of respondents are dissatisfied with a particular aspect of building comfort, you must take corrective actions during the performance period. (See the Documentation Toolkit for an example.)
Corrective actions may include working with building occupants on how to manage their space, such as closing shading devices when appropriate. Operations staff might also have to make adjustments to building systems and cleaning practices.
Implement the survey in-house to keep costs low. See the example surveys in the Documentation Toolkit.
If occupancy is below 50% during the performance period the survey cannot be conducted during that time.
If the number of regular building occupants increases during the performance period but you’ve already conducted the survey, you do not need to re-do the survey. You can calculate the response rate based on the occupancy at the time of the survey.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
To provide for the assessment of building occupants’ comfort as it relates to thermal comfort, acoustics, indoor air quality (IAQIndoor air quality: The quality and attributes of indoor air affecting the health and comfort building occupants. IAQ encompasses available fresh air, contaminant levels, acoustics and noise levels, lighting quality, and other factors.), lighting levels, building cleanliness and any other comfort issues.
Conducting an occupant survey is a valuable tool for identifying and addressing occupants’ comfort and building performance issues. Develop a plan for corrective action to address any identified problems or concerns. Alternative survey ideas are available in the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Operations & Maintenance, 2009 Edition.
The Center for the Built Environment (CBE) offers an effective online occupant comfort survey tool for $1,000 per facility.
The Usable Buildings Trust promotes better buildings through effective use of occupant feedback. Its website includes sample occupant comfort surveys.
ASHRAE Standard 55-2004 specifies the combinations of indoor environment and personal factors that will produce thermal conditions comfortable to at least 80% of occupants.
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.
Use a brief survey like this one to collect occupant feedback on satisfaction with building conditions, including temperature, acoustics, indoor air quality, lighting levels and building cleanliness. Customize the survey for your building to gain useful information.
You’ll need to create a summary report like this one that covers the response rate and results of your survey. For anything with a dissatisfaction rate higher than 20%, complete a narrative like the one included here explaining corrective actions taken.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems.-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."
Does this refer to an ongoing system or a commitment to give out the survey more than once?
If an ongoing system needs to be implemented, there does not seem to be specific direction in the Reference Guide about how the system is implemented. Would an email system in which facilities employees are notified of issues via smart phone be compliant? Is there a review trend or other instruction pertaining to tracking and resolving the criticism? We also have an exisiting channel in which occupants are encouraged to ask our CEO questions, including ones that pertain to the building. These are answered each month, and we have covered many that relate to our building operations...would this system be compliant as well?
Thanks so much!
Hi Elizabeth, that statement's intent is to establish a process for soliciting feedback and ability for receiving feedback. If you expand your description that you have there and can show evidence of an 'established' ongoing practice you should be fine.
Anyone else have other suggestions?
Thanks so much, Jeff - appreciate the insight!
We just completed the occupant survey, and the results are showing that many of the occupants are dissatisifed with the sound privacy. The primary reason is due to noise from other peoples' conversations or work. Does anyone have any experience on what type of action to take? I was thinking of posting signage as a reminder to the tenants to be respectful of other people working around them. Another option I was thinking of was to make the results from that question public, just to increase awareness that noise in those spaces is an issue. Does anyone have any thoughts?
I think both of those options are very appropriate and very well may be sufficient. Other more structural/intensive options could be investing in a white noise system or installing sound absorbing panels or privacy partitions.
I see that we need to collect responses from a "representative" sample of building occupants making up at least 30% of the total occupants. I'm wondering if this means we have to do some sort of random sample to select 30% of the occupants and then make sure 100% of those selected answer OR if it's ok to just send the survey to 100% of the building occupants and allow for some self selection in the 30% of the whole building that respond. Thanks.
Emily- it's perfectly fine to distribute the survey to everyone, and I would recommend that you do so that you get the highest number of returned surveys as possible. Sometimes it is difficult to get enough back!
I agree with Allison and would just note that you may want to review your data for unusual clusters of responses - significant portions of the building that are over- or under-represented can generate misleading outcomes. If you have 3 tenants and all your respondents come from one of them, or 3 floors of the building and all the responses are from that floor, the reviewer may be concerned you're not getting the whole picture in terms of occupant comfort.
Hope that helps,
I just wanted to confirm that for this particular credit we don't need to use FTEFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 8 hours a day (40 hours a week) in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per day divided by 8 (or hours per week divided by 40). Transient Occupants can be reported as either daily totals or as part of the FTE. Residential occupancy should be estimated based on the number and size of units. Core and Shell projects should refer to the default occupancy table in the Reference Guide appendix. All occupant assumptions must be consistent across all credits in all categories.?
We have a small staff here - 18 total staff members, only 6 of whom are full-time. Our FTE comes to 10.75, and we received 11 responses for the survey. Are we ok?
Thanks for your feedback.
I have a similar question. On PI Form 3, Occupant and Usage Data, our average occupancy from Table PIf3-2 is 77%. Do we use 77% of our FTEFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 8 hours a day (40 hours a week) in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per day divided by 8 (or hours per week divided by 40). Transient Occupants can be reported as either daily totals or as part of the FTE. Residential occupancy should be estimated based on the number and size of units. Core and Shell projects should refer to the default occupancy table in the Reference Guide appendix. All occupant assumptions must be consistent across all credits in all categories. to account for the percentage of survey respondents? That is, if our FTE is 120 and the percentage from the table is 77%, are we required to provide at least 120 x 0.77 = 92.4 x 0.30 = 28 responses to the survey? Or, are we required to provide 120 x 0.30 = 36 responses?
John, you should be fine with 11 responses since that is more than 30% of your total staff members. When you document this credit, just be sure to indicate the number of people that are considered regular occupants; defined as people with a permanent workstation and who typically spend at least 10 hours/week in the project building.
Cynthia, PIf3-2 accounts for the percent of the building that is occupied, not the percentage of FTEFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 8 hours a day (40 hours a week) in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per day divided by 8 (or hours per week divided by 40). Transient Occupants can be reported as either daily totals or as part of the FTE. Residential occupancy should be estimated based on the number and size of units. Core and Shell projects should refer to the default occupancy table in the Reference Guide appendix. All occupant assumptions must be consistent across all credits in all categories. that are regular building occupants. Therefore, I don't think it is appropriate to use the average occupancy of 77%. If all 120 occupants are full time employees, then use the FTE number of 120, requiring 36 responses.
Ok. Here's the problem. During the performance period the owner opened up the last remaining floor raising the FTEFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 8 hours a day (40 hours a week) in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per day divided by 8 (or hours per week divided by 40). Transient Occupants can be reported as either daily totals or as part of the FTE. Residential occupancy should be estimated based on the number and size of units. Core and Shell projects should refer to the default occupancy table in the Reference Guide appendix. All occupant assumptions must be consistent across all credits in all categories. count from 100 to 120. The occupant comfort survey had been done before that, with 30 responses gathered. It may not be a big deal to get 6 more people to fill out the survey before the end of the performance period...but if it is, will this explanation be acceptable to USGBC ?
Cynthia, the survey must be conducted at one time, so acquiring 6 more responses well after the original survey was administered is not allowed. However, I would use the FTE number of 100 in the LEED template, since that was the correct FTE count on the date that the survey was conducted. Just be sure to write an explanation of why the number of regular building occupants for this credit is lower than the FTE number of 120.
We conducted an on-line occupant survey that generated 444 replies (30.8% of FTEFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 8 hours a day (40 hours a week) in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per day divided by 8 (or hours per week divided by 40). Transient Occupants can be reported as either daily totals or as part of the FTE. Residential occupancy should be estimated based on the number and size of units. Core and Shell projects should refer to the default occupancy table in the Reference Guide appendix. All occupant assumptions must be consistent across all credits in all categories.). We acheived this rate by offering to put the respondent's name into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate.
The GBCI review team rejected our documentation for this credit since they weren't "anonymous" and wants us to perform a revised survey. It is extremely unlikely we will achieve the 30% threshold without this "prize". Any ideas on how we can move forward?
We have had success in the past by doing a paper survey (I know- not very green!) where people get a raffle ticket when they turn their surveys in in -person. This protects the anonymity of the survey while still allowing an incentive.
Tim - Was including one's name with the survey mandatory? Or was there an option where an occupant could respond to the survey without including their name (even if that meant not being eligible for the prize)? If including a name was mandatory, I think you're stuck and will have to redo the survey as they request. The problem being that if I have to include my name, I may be less likely to be honest about complaints or problems than if I were allowed to be anonymous. However, if including the name was optional to get entered in the drawing, you absolutely should be OK. Allowing folks to trade their anonymity for a prize still assures individuals who are unhappy about building conditions with an avenue for responding honestly if they so desire. It's obviously not perfect, but I really think GBCI could live with that given the reality of how difficult achieving the required response actually is - I've been amazed at how many of my projects struggle to achieve 30% even with an incentive like the one you employed. This credit ends up being a much tougher undertaking than it appears on its face.
I hope this helps a bit.
We are working on TAIPEI 101--2 million SF and over 100 tenants--as an EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. project and have conducted an extensive survey with over 3,500 responses, which is > 30% of the building tenants. We have also pinpointed many of the causes of the temperature complaints, which result from some of the tenants' interior designers locating ALL of the thermostats for a multi-thousand square foot floorplate on ONE wall tucked away where no one can see them! (They're ugly...don't you understand?) Anyway most of these tenants won't let the building relocate the thermostats or undertake any measures to improve the acoustics, effectively rendering their options zero. The Reference Guide states that "pinpoint[ing] the problem" can be considered a "corrective action". We're planning on asserting that by sharing the results with the office managers and offering to help fix the problem that we've "corrected" the issue. Has anyone encountered a similar issue and received specific guidance from GBCI/their reviewer?
Rob- I have not run into that situation before (thankfully the corrections I've had to do on projects have been pretty minor), so I unfortunately do not have any guidance specifically from GBCI. Since it sounds like you can't really do any more than you have already done, I would recommend that you just submit the documentation including the steps you have supplied above and see if it gets accepted.
'Corrective action' is loosely defined - I think the expectation is simply that you take meaningful steps that you think will remedy the problem. It doesn't require massive changes or investment, and sometimes simply explaining the situation and helping occupants or tenants adapt to it is enough. But there is some obligation to make a sincere effort to fix the situation that resulted in occupant discomfort. I think your description is likely to meet that requirement, especially if you can show what exactly your offer to help represents.
I am working on a survey that I would like to provide our tenants with one time per year. With the performance period requiring everything to end within a 30 day window, what have or what is suggested as far as a time frame to handing out/ collecting/ documenting/ corrective action. The minimum performance period is 3 months, would providing the survey November 1st, collecting the survey results November 7th, documenting the results for 1 weeks then, taking corrective action hopefully all are minor adjustments that could take 1 week, what would I do for the next 2 months?
My experience with this is that as long as the survey was conducted during the performance period (maximum of two years, as you'll recall, for individual credits), you are fine. I usually recommend that my projects take care of this survey well before the 3-month shared performance period so we have plenty of time for corrective action. Better to survey early and make improvements early than waiting until the PP and rushing through either aspect.
Great answer Dan. The real thing to remember is that while all credits have to be attempted during the performance period, not all of them will take the entire period to complete.
Does it make sense to conduct the survey twice. Once prior to the performance period and then during the performance period for credit compliance.
My concern is that if a lot of problems are revealed by the survey during the performance period, there might not be enough time to correct them.
It also seems more efficient to find out any issues with the HVAC system early so they can remedied along with other work on the ventilation system.
It could be costly to have the HVAC contractor work on the system to comply with other LEED credits, only to have to return again because the survey revealed occupants in an area weren't comfortable, and fix it within the 3 month window!
Geoffrey- two surveys may make sense under certain conditions. However, I personally would be hesitant to do two surveys because if your building is large with multiple tenants or a large number of employees, it may be difficult to get the required 30% survey response rate once, much less twice. Also, keep in mind that the required corrective actions (if any) are likely to be pretty minor such as checking and adjusting temperature setpointsSetpoints are normal operating ranges for building systems and indoor environmental quality. When the building systems are outside of their normal operating range, action is taken by the building operator or automation system. or diffuser airflows or adding tasklights or perhaps window shades- not wholesale changes to the systems. If you craft your survey in a way that allows you to identify specific problem areas, these adjustments may also only be necessary in very small areas of the building, which typically makes them very easy to accomplish during the performance period.
We actually have a relatively small office (less than 100 people). They aren't all minor. I was looking at some of the questions from the CBE and one of them is about cubicle and furnishing comfort. What if it turns out that half the office is dissatisfied with their chairs or cubicles. That could be an expensive fix if we have to replace all the chairs for example.
You've got the make the call for your specific project. Do you think it's likely that a lot of people are dissatisfied? Is occupant comfort a high priority? If so, your conservative approach may be justified.
Geoff - I would also note that furniture comfort is not a required area of the survey for EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. compliance. The CBE survey is fantastic and quite comprehensive, but goes beyond EBOM requirements in a number of ways. And I agree with both Allison and Tristan - in most instances two surveys are not necessary, but in all instances where surveys are part of EBOM the user has to assess the likelihood that they will get favorable results with an initial survey and the possibility that the survey will reveal substantial room for improvement that may need to be confirmed with a follow-up survey. Final note - remember that your performance period can be extended backward up to 2 years. So if you conduct your survey within 21 months before the shared 3-month PP for other credits, if the result is good, you're done. If not, you have plenty of time to make changes and re-survey.
I had recently thought of you last point. That given our option to choose the length of the performance period, we could have up to two years to remedy any issues. Thank you guys.
Dan, I am understanding your point correctly - you CAN conduct the occupant survey BEFORE the performance period used for other credits? My client wants to combine the occupant comfort survey with the transportation survery. So if we combine both and do now, 2-3 months before we begin our performance period, it will be okay?
That's right Nena - The performance period for a credit (an individual credit, some credits, or all credits) can be up to 2 years hence, so even if you have a shared performance period for all credits planned for Jan, Feb, March 2013 you could conduct your surveys tomorrow and still be fine. In fact, if you did conduct your surveys tomorrow, you can think of them as having a 'shelf-life' of 2 years. Many projects conduct things like the transportation survey early in their LEED process to have confidence in the points they will eventually earn. Conducting the occupant comfort survey as early as possible is similarly helpful because it allows you plenty of time to ensure a high response rate AND complete any corrective action that may be necessary.
Hi Dan, thank you for the response. I am still a little unsure because the LEED online template ask if you conducted the survey during the performance period. Would you just adjust the pp for this credit to included the date of your survey (even if it is well before the pp for all other credits)?
Also, does this still apply if our project is already registred? This project was registered over a year ago, but has nothing has been done. Our performance period will begin this Fall and end within 3 months.
Yes and yes! You can extend the PP for that credit to include the date of your survey, and don't worry about the registration date. Registration dates are effectively irrelevant, as USGBC wants to encourage projects to register early, not see the registration date as some kind of clock-starter or deadline-inducer.
Will it be sufficient enough to conduct the survey and to document it to obtain this credit..Does it require to invest on equipments to improve the air quality as most probably we are not planing on going for the credits that are in need of large investments to achieve..
It depends on how your building performs in the survey. If the survey results show that more than 20% of respondents are dissatisfied with a particular aspect of building comfort (such as indoor air quality), you must take corrective actions during the performance period. See the Documentation Toolkit for an example of how to document this.
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