NC-v2.2 EQc7.2: Thermal Comfort—Verification

  • NC22_EQc7-2_Type3_ThermalComfortVerification Diagram
  • An easy credit, if the owner is on board

    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. 

    Do it yourself, or get help

    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.

    Occupant survey results graphServices 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! 

    Permanent monitoring system

    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: 

    • Continuous monitoring of, at a minimum, air temperature and humidity in occupied spacesEnclosed space intended for human activities, excluding those spaces that are intended primarily for other purposes, such as storage rooms and equipment rooms, and that are only occupied occasionally and for short periods of time. Occupied spaces are further classified as regularly occupied or nonregularly occupied spaces based on the duration of the occupancy, individual or multioccupant based on the quantity of occupants, and densely or nondensely occupied spaces based on the concentration of occupants in the space.. The sampling interval cannot exceed 15 minutes.
    • Periodic testing of air speed and radiant temperature in occupied spaces. Using handheld meters is permitted.
    • Alarms for conditions that require system adjustment or repair. Submit a list of the sensors, zone set-points and limit values that would trigger an alarm.
    • Procedures that deliver prompt adjustments or repairs in response to problems identified.

    Corrective action

    Develop a plan for corrective action in case more than 20% of occupants 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 farFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters). you go is up to you.

    Submit the documentation early if you can

    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.

Legend

  • Best Practices
  • Gotcha
  • Action Steps
  • Cost Tip

Pre-Design

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  • 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. 

Schematic Design

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  • 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:

    • Metabolic rate
    • Clothing insulation
    • Air temperature
    • Radiant temperature
    • Air Speed and Humidity. 

  • 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.

Design Development

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  • 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:

    • Season
    • Weather conditions at the time of the survey 
    • Activity level prior to taking the survey
    • Type of dress
    • Equipment in use in the space (computers, appliances, etc.)

  • 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.

Construction Documents

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  • 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. 

Construction

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  • Verify proper installation and commissioning of the building monitoring system. 

Operations & Maintenance

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  • 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.   

  • USGBC

    Excerpted from LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations Version 2.2

    EQ Credit 7.2: Thermal comfort - verification

    1 Point

    Intent

    Provide for the assessment of building thermal comfort over time.

    Requirements

    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.

    Potential Technologies & Strategies

    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 55–2004) 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.

Technical Guides

IEQ Space Matrix - 2nd Edition

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.


IESNA Recommended Practice of Daylighting—Daylight Design Guidance

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.


IEQ Space Matrix - 1st Ed.

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 Tools

Survey Monkey

Web-based survey administrator–can be used to administer occupant surveys.


Survey Gizmo

Web-based survey administrator–can be used to administer occupant surveys.


Question Pro

Web-based survey administrator–can be used to administer occupant surveys.


Center for the Built Environment

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.


The Usable Buildings Trust

Great tips and guidance on how to find out what works and doesn’t work in buildings, including occupant surveys.


BCG Survey

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.

Thermal Comfort Survey

Use a thermal comfort survey like this template to assess occupant comfort according to the credit requirements.

Narrative and Plan for Corrective Action

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.

LEED Online Sample Template – EQc7.2

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.

Design Submittal

PencilDocumentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.

19 Comments

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Jordan Friedberg
Sep 17 2013
Guest
677 Thumbs Up

Corrective Action Plan Cutoff

The NC v2.2 Reference Guide states "if the survey results indicate that more than 20% of occupants are dissatisfied" whereas under "Corrective Action" (above) it states "in case more than 20% of respondents."

Can anyone clarify where the cutoff lies for developing a corrective action plan? The number of occupants and number of respondents are not the same, despite our best efforts to encourage responses.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 04 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Jordan, good point. Occupants are the point, not respondents. I have updated our guidance above.

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Peter Doo President Doo Consulting, LLC
Jun 21 2012
LEEDuser Member
3725 Thumbs Up

For Higher Ed (or any other project type)

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.

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Emily Catacchio Sustainability Specialist, Wight and Company Jul 05 2012 Guest 9886 Thumbs Up

Peter, 

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.

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Mark Meaders Sustainable Leader HDR, Inc.
Mar 02 2011
LEEDuser Expert
1178 Thumbs Up

Corrective Action Plan review comments

We have just been denied this credit by GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).. 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.

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Susann Geithner CEO, Geithner Consulting Mar 02 2011 LEEDuser Member 13877 Thumbs Up

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.

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Michelle Bracewell-Musson Owner, LEED AP, Green Expectations Sustainability Solutions Mar 04 2011 LEEDuser Member 1684 Thumbs Up

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.'

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Millie Hassleback RMKC Energy Feb 15 2012 Guest 40 Thumbs Up

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.

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carla cruz
Sep 15 2010
LEEDuser Member
3063 Thumbs Up

Thermal Comfort Verification for a residential tower

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

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 15 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

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?

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carla cruz Sep 15 2010 LEEDuser Member 3063 Thumbs Up

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?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 29 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

We have some suggestions in the content above—handheld meters, for example.

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Norma Lehman Director of Sustainability, The Beck Group Nov 17 2011 LEEDuser Member 1849 Thumbs Up

Would anyone share a survey geared toward residential units? the one i use for offices just doesn't seem to work...thanks!

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Scott Ghomeshi Mechanical Engineer, Rocky Point Engineering May 11 2012 Guest 31 Thumbs Up

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?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jun 04 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Scott, it has been LEEDuser's experience that regular use of handheld instruments can constitute a "system."

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Angie Plantz LEED, AP The Milnes Co., Inc.
Jun 22 2010
Guest
248 Thumbs Up

Thermal Comfort Verification for a Hotel

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?

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Rick Ferrara AIA, LEED BD+C, Gensler Jun 23 2010 Guest 1147 Thumbs Up

In my experience, we have had the commissioningThe process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner's project requirements. 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.

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Smart Green Dec 10 2011 Guest 183 Thumbs Up

is there any seperate corrective action required for BMS based buildings?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Feb 17 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Smart Green, can you clarify your question—what do you mean by separate?

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