Lessons Learned Working on LEED Projects

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Lessons Learned While Working on LEED Projects


I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work on a wide array of LEED projects in many different LEED rating systems and versions. While most LEED professionals, especially those that work in architectural firms, have seen the design side of the LEED delivery process, I have been fortunate to have worked with many contractors on documenting construction LEED credits. I will do my best to share some insights I have gained in the process of LEED project consulting.


LEED project consulting

Bay Area LEED Home


  1. Don’t rely completely on LEED User

LEED User is a fantastic website but don’t rely a hundred percent on it. Procure a copy of the LEED guide and read it carefully. There are finer aspects of the system, rules and guidelines that are missing entirely from LEED User and its forum. There are also instances where the credit language on LEED User is old and not up-to-date with changes.


  1. Update your LEED Reference Guide with Addenda.

In item #1, I recommended that you get the LEED Reference Guide (either hard or soft copy) and review it. Remember that USGBC is always updating its reference guides, so before you start work on your project, get the revised addenda for your system. For changes issued after you have registered the project, you can always argue that they shouldn’t apply to you, but you cannot argue for this, if addenda are issued prior to project registration.


  1. Don’t wait until submission time to look at LEED online credit forms.

LEED Online is a big time commitment it will become even more burdensome if you haven’t reviewed the forms for each credit ahead of time. I would recommend doing this as soon as you are in a position to start thinking about LEED submission documents. Make a note of the special uploads + information required by the LEED Online credit forms based on the buttons you will need to click in each form (this will depend on your specific project). Do not rely on the LEED User versions, as they may leave you inadequately prepared. Once you have this list, you can start preparing toward that list rather than the document requirements stated in LEED User and the Reference Guide. Ultimately what you will need to upload is stated in the LEED Online credit form.


LEED project consulting

SFOBB_LEED Building_Artists Rendering



  1. Stay organized and keep copies of everything!

There are currently 2 versions of LEED Online. The new one is considerably more user friendly. But even the new one has still not achieved 100% reliability and you can lose information uploaded and changes made to credit forms. If you think that you will keep uploading documents to LEED Online as they are completed by various disciplines, you may be in for a very nasty shock! One day you may discover that one or more forms have lost some of the changes made, including the documents that you have painstakingly uploaded. So keep copies of all LEED documents on your server as well as copies of the LEED Online credit forms. This way, if you do lose some information, you can quickly resurrect it.


LEED project consulting

SFOBB LEED Building Grand Opening Ceremony

  1. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the USGBC.

The 1-800 number for USGBC is a great resource. It’s possible that the question you have may not be appropriate for a USGBC aide to help you with, but he/ she may be able to point you in the right direction or give you some related information to get started.


  1. Don’t fear LEED!

With intelligence, clarity of thought and thinking issues through (and off course LEED User), you can certify LEED projects.

Being careful and thorough are ultimately the most important attributes you will need if you are attempting to certify LEED projects on your own.