Smoking in LEED Buildings

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Principal & Founder The Green Engineer, Inc. Feb 08 2010 LEEDuser Expert
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Currently LEED allows smoking in buildings, provided specific control provisions are met.

For the next version of LEED (2012):

1) should smoking simply be prohibited?

2) what about high rise residences under LEED-NC?

3) what about LEED for Homes?

4) what about existing buildings?

Interested in your opinions.


Jean Marais b.i.g. Bechtold DesignBuilder Expert
Feb 12 2010
LEEDuser Member
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Great subject. I would add to

Great subject. I would add to say that as (27% all LEED registered ft² is outside the USA) LEED becomes the internationally dominant green building certification program, it should be considered that the habits of countries differ. For example in the UK, almost no one smokes anymore. Tabacco advertising is all but banned. However, in Germany every second person smokes and the practicalities of forcing half of the population of Berlin out into the cold on the streets may seem unrealistic, but their legislation inforces that already. Unfortuanately you can't be 25 ft away from all doors, vents, and operable windows in a built up city where the buildings sit ontop of each other. If all the buildings were LEED certified, you'll always be breaking someones ban.

I was there when the inclosed public space bans came in in the UK and although a lot of people made a big deal of it at the time, they rarely talk about it anymore.

From an energy saving point of view...yes. The amount of energy saved if you had to cancel all those additional extraction fans in the world would really count for something. And world health would improve. Healthcare funded by the tax coming in from selling more extraction fans and tabacco would suffer though.

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Sheri Lucas Vice President, Director of LEED Standardization Wells Fargo
Feb 11 2010
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LEED should prohibit smoking in buildings

I'll throw my two cents in that the USGBC should consider prohibiting smoking for LEED certification. I understand that pressure from the tobacco industry might prevent an outright ban. That industry has long pushed for controlled smoking rooms as an alternative to smoking bans. I suspect this is why smoking rooms are an option in the existing prerequisite.

For a smoking room to be effective the ventilation system must be balanced. Even with enhanced 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., there simply could not be enough testing to assure that a displacement ventilationA system in which air slightly cooler than the desired room temperature is introduced at floor level and is lifted up by warmer air to exhaust outlets at the ceiling, increasing air circulation and removal of pollutants. system is operating as it should. Additionally, regardless of reduced PPAH & RSP levels in non-smoking areas, PPAHs and RSPs can still escape into those areas.

As a building operator, I cannot imagine consciously subjecting any of my occupants to carcinogens, even if they volunteer for it. My goal as a LEED AP is not only sustainable construction and operations, but healthy work environments, as well.

I imagine the systems required for smoking rooms also decrease building efficiency. Even if it's by a single percentage point, that flies in the face of our goal to reduce our impact and increase efficiency.

LEED is voluntary. Unless your city mandates certification, it is a building owner's choice to pursue the rigorous standards put forth by the rating system. I do not intend to alienate smokers. My only intent is to provide healthy, high performance buildings. You wanna smoke? Go outside. Just make sure it's 25' away from doors, vents, and operable windows. :)

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