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.
Some 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!
In schools, students in grades 6 and above have to be surveyed along with the adults.
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 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.
A guidance document has been developed by USGBC that provides international alternative compliance paths (referencing local standards) and additional LEED Online credit forms for international projects.
USGBC has not made clear the exact requirements for a permanent monitoring system. One contributing approach, however, is to administer a survey, as this is often easy and cheap to implement. Additional approaches could be a building automation system if sensor locations are adequately distributed throughout occupied spacesOccupied Spaces are defined as enclosed spaces that can accommodate human activities. Occupied spaces are further classified as regularly occupied or non-regularly occupied spaces based on the duration of the occupancy, individual or multi-occupant based on the quantity of occupants, and densely or non-densely occupied spaces based upon the concentration of occupants in the space., 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.
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.
USGBC has not publicized a blanket policy on whether dorms would be considered residential projects per this credit, and it is up to the discretion of the project team to determine the most appropriate project type and whether this credit can be pursued. If the dorm includes common areas, lounges, game areas, kitchen, etc. there may be opportunity for this credit to be pursued, but GBCI may not approve of this—it's best to check.
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.
Although it is not a requirement for compliance, consider including a permanent comfort monitoring 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.
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.
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 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.
Conduct the survey after 6–18 months of occupancy. Survey all building occupants, including students in grades 6–12, teachers, and staff.
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 Schools New Construction and Major Renovations
To provide for the assessment of building occupant thermal comfort over time.
Achieve IEQ Credit 7.1: Thermal Comfort—Design
Agree to conduct a thermal comfort survey of building occupants (adults and students of grades 6 and above) within 6 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 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 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.
1. Project teams wishing to use ASHRAE approved addenda for the purposes of this credit may do so at their discretion. Addenda must be applied consistently across all LEED credits.
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 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.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each Schools-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.
Does anyone know where I can find a thermal comfort survey and samples of plans for corrective action?
Yes, under LEEDuser's Documentation Toolkit, above.
We received a couple of questions concerning this credit:
"The survey must be based on a seven point system scale and address environmetal factors such as temperature, thermal radiation, humidity, and air speed".
Does tha sample survey comply with these requirements?
I thought that tthe survey we had submitted complied since our rating system went from -3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3....
As far as the environmental factors.....does the sample survey meet these requirements??
Was the Owner the required signatory in Schools 2007? Submitting final documentation now under that version, have been made aware of the Owner's proceedure for surveying and implementing corrective action, and supplied the survey to the Owner. Would prefer to sign off on this credit myself (as LEED consultant) for the Owner. Is this permitted?
Kathleen, it should be clear from the credit form whether the owner is the required signatory. I'm guessing it might not be, since those have tended to be added for 2009. However, I couldn't say without looking at the form, and I don't have 2007 forms.
Just confirming that we are still eligible for this credit even if our project is a grade 2-5 elementary school. In our case, we would just need to survey all teachers and staff?
Yes, it would be sufficient to survey the adults in the building.
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.
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