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. The LEED Reference Guide provides little guidance on the specific requirements for permanent monitoring systems, system components, or what to monitor, but does include some guidance on the type of information to include in the survey including satisfaction with thermal environment to be based on a seven-point scale from very satisfied (+3) to very dissatisfied (-3), and the survey must include specifics on the occupant’s location within the building, follow-up questions and query about the cause for any dissatisfaction . Additonally, LEED-EBOM 2009 credit IEQc2.3 defines requirements for permanent monitoring that can also be used as a useful guideline:
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.) Documentation requirements include verification the the survey will be performed, and details of a plan for corrective action.
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.
Can you earn this credit? Confirm whether you can also achieve credit EQc7.1, which you have to earn to get credit for EQc7.2 (per LEED-NC errata posted 8/1/07).
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.
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 EQc6.2: 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 EQc7.1. 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 EQc7.1.
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.)
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. It is best for the owner to sign 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 EQc7.1 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 EQc7.1 and EQc7.2 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 for New Construction and Major Renovations Version 2.2
Provide for the assessment of building thermal comfort over time.
1 point in addition to EQ credit 7.1.
Agree to implement a thermal comfort survey of building occupants within a period of six to 18 months after occupancy. This survey should collect anonymous responses about thermal comfort in the building including an assessment of overall satisfaction with thermal performance and identification of thermal comfort-related 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 building. This plan should include measurement of relevant environmental variables in problem areas in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 55-2004.
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 the documenta- tion and validation of 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 design of monitoring and corrective action systems.
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.
This is the American industry authority on lighting levels and energy use. The Illumination Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) publishes several design guides for recommended lighting levels, daylighting and much more.
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 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.
This template is the flattened, public version of the dynamic template for this credit that is used within LEED-Online v2 by registered project teams. This and other public versions of LEED credit templates come from the USGBC website, and are posted on LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. You'll need to fill out the live version of this template on LEED Online to document this credit.
Documentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.
As a transient population, do the students get surveyed or just the permanent occupants (faculty and staff)? There are no requirements on the breadth of the survey or the response rate. This is really a "gimme" point.
Try to survey as many occupants as possible. Since students spend a specific amount of time in the space, usually per week, I include them in surveys. This can be accomplished in higher education with an end of semester survey that faculty hand out.
We have just been denied this credit by GBCI. GBCI stated the narrative only includes examples cited from the Reference Guide, and do not appear to include specific corrective actions reflecting a corrective action plan (CAP) that has been developed for the project. The documentation does not demonstrate credit compliance. For future submittals, provide a more detailed narrative that includes specific actions to demonstrate that a corrective action plan has been developed that is specific to the project.
We state in our submittal If 20% or more of the occupants are dissatisfied with thermal comfort, the CAP will be implemented. The CAP includes gathering additional information through follow-up questions, emails, or personal interviews to determine the exact issue and desired outcome (if applicable) for the issue resolution. Once that information has been gathered, a team will be put together to troubleshoot the issue and determine the best resolution. Once the resolution(s) has been identified, the resolution with the best desired outcome (depending on time and cost to implement) will be selected. Once the resolution has been implemented and the issue resolved, respondents will be inquired again to ensure the issue is resolved and no further action is needed. Specific corrective actions that may be implemented to correct thermal comfort issues may include adjustments to 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., adjusting operating schedules, adjusting operating modes, airflow adjustments, solar control adjustments, or other measures.
Our thought is we cannot be more specific at this point since we don't know the specific issue. A mechanical issue will require different actions compared to a light fixture issue. What additional information should we have included to satisfy the reviewer? As a note, the information we submitted has been accepted on at least 2-4 other projects. Any help would be appreciated.
We had a similar issue with the tenant M&V Plan. The reviewer wanted us to provide detailed measures of an corrective action plan. We asked for a clarification and ended up describe 3 potential scenarios. My suggestion would be to describe for instance what you would if people in a certain area complain about cold indoor temperatures. Even if this probably will never work as described, it's more so for the reviewers to see that you actually though this through and have the resources to address it.
This is exactly what I submitted and I did not have any issues:
'The O & M Manager will gather and analyze the responses. When a minimum of 20% of the occupants are dissatisfied, corrective action must be taken including changing the set point for a particular zone, adjusting operating schedules or modes, adjusting diffusersIn an HVAC context, diffusers disperse heating, cooling, or ventilation air as it enters a room, ideally preventing uncomfortable direct currents and in many cases, reducing energy costs and improving indoor air quality (IAQ). In light fixtures, diffusers filter and disperse light. and mandating the use of blinds, or other sun control measures. If a set of responses (minimum 20% of occupants) warrants adjustment of the HVAC system, the O&M Manager may, in consultation with the Facility Manager, contact an HVAC specialist to re-balance a zone or the overall system as s/he sees fit.
If rebalancing is not sufficient to correct the problem, resolution of the performance failure may be directed to the Design Team.'
We had a very similar scenario with the tenant M&V Plan. We had to create a plan that addressed the concern of people in a certain area complaining about cold indoor temperatures. We talked about adjusting diffusersIn an HVAC context, diffusers disperse heating, cooling, or ventilation air as it enters a room, ideally preventing uncomfortable direct currents and in many cases, reducing energy costs and improving indoor air quality (IAQ). In light fixtures, diffusers filter and disperse light., using blinds, 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., airflow adjustments on air filters, adjustments to HVAC systems, solar control adjustments, etc... I agree with Susann. It is definitely more for the reviewers to see that you have a plan and the resources to address it.
Has anyone attempted to earn this credit for a residential tower (nc v2.2)? As i would recall residential projects are not eligible for this credit when using reference guide 2009 bd+c but for the NC v2.2 the reference guide technically is not saying you can't. Thanks
That's correct, for NC v2.2 projects, you can pursue this credit on a residential building.
What are your thoughts on doing this on your project? Any particular obstacles you're looking for feedback on?
Thanks Tristan. Yes I am planning to attempt this credit but I am not so sure if I could attain it because of the permanent thermal monitoring system requirement. I don't know how i could achieve this if the project is not using BAS. Any suggestions?
We have some suggestions in the content above—handheld meters, for example.
Would anyone share a survey geared toward residential units? the one i use for offices just doesn't seem to work...thanks!
I am in a similar situation as the hotel I am working on does not have a permanent humidity monitoring system. Though we have tried to argue that our regions climate doesn't require humidity monitoring, the CAGBC argues we still need to have the humidity monitoring in place. If it is the case that we are not using a permanent humidity monitoring system, and instead making use of handheld devices, as Tristan commented earlier, will that stick?
Scott, it has been LEEDuser's experience that regular use of handheld instruments can constitute a "system."
I am currently working on a 73 room hotel and wanted to see if anyone had samples of a survey used for this purpose. Surveying employees can be done by paper and collected in an employee break room, but I am uncertain that the same survey would work for the guests as well. How would you treat the guest rooms?
In my experience, we have had the commissioning agent draw this up for us for a few hundred dollars. Rather than have piece of paper, consider using a web based survey that could collect the data, tabulate it and save it as proof that your client actually did the survey. Each guest could be emailed after their stay.
is there any seperate corrective action required for BMS based buildings?
Smart Green, can you clarify your question—what do you mean by separate?
Institute for the Built Environment
EQc7.2 can provide valuable information for the commissioning process, particularly for ongoing commissioning. Teams may elect for the commissioning agent to manage EQc7.2.
EQc7.2 requires that a permanent monitoring system be in place. Meeting this credit requirement is likely if teams are pursuing an M&V credit.
Thermal comfort controls will contribute to occupant satisfaction with thermal conditions.
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