[Equest-users] New LEED issues brought up in Final review comments??

Nick Caton ncaton at smithboucher.com
Tue May 27 12:39:57 PDT 2014

Hi Pasha (and everyone),

From my experience, this does sound weird, but there may be missing context to make it more reasonable.

I have seen final documented EAc1 credits being reduced in response to a calculated “adjustment” for the baseline and/or proposed energy tallies, based in turn on some measure being determined invalid or similar.  These adjustments are typically reasonable and clear enough, even if I don’t always agree with them.  This would be the first I’ve heard of an entire model (or all EAc1 credits) being rejected outright in final review, and the first I’ve heard of a LEED reviewer reducing *or* denying credits over zoning decisions, which are clearly under the umbrella of the modeler’s prerogative.  Again, these are observations from my bubble of experience.

You can assert the modeler is permitted broad leeway to define zoning as simply/broadly as may be necessary for an Appendix G model – this is touched on in Appendix G, and dealt with more explicitly in the 90.1 User’s manual.  It’s routine practice in my experience for large and otherwise complex projects where floor layouts and mechanical system designs lend themselves to grouping spaces together, and for when actual zoning layouts are “unknowable” for the duration of modeling (such as with shell/TI construction).  On the flip side, the person assembling the documentation should be prepared to explain and provide context for why any zoning simplifications are undertaken, should those decisions be called into question.

It may be that zoning for your project wasn’t documented well (or at all) for preliminary review, and so wasn’t available to comment upon or question.  In that scenario, the preliminary review commentary should have firstly noted that deficiency in documentation.  In response to such preliminary commentary, the modeler should have taken explicit care to fully document zoning, and to provide reasoning & explanation for any simplifications.

I don’t know whether there are any hard and fast rules as to whether the LEED reviewership is discouraged from bringing up new issues in final review, particularly those they had an opportunity to take issue with in preliminary review, but if the preliminary review model/documentation were really deficient I can imagine it being within reason to recognize new problems.

All told, it sounds as though the mess was already made when you came into the project.  Perhaps after this “damage assessment” is over, you may need to re-assess your fees/scope to actually re-build the entire model with appropriate zoning.  There should be a lesson in all this - Chalk it up as the cost/risk of not hiring a qualified energy modeling professional from the get-go.

For such an “extreme” punitive reaction as denying all EAc1 points over a “new” issue in final review, I should think LEED would have some means of communication with those familiar with your project, short of undertaking the ($$$) appeal process, so that you could assess what compromises are necessary to arrive at an acceptable zoning layout.  That I should think would be reasonable at a minimum.  You’d think they’d also have some additional  degree of oversight for such cases to ensure individual reviewers aren’t just writing off entire projects they’re uncomfortable reviewing.

I’m hopeful someone from the LEED side of things monitoring these lists will either chime in with whether any such intermediate mode of recourse is available, or at least contact you off-list if need be.

Best regards,


[cid:489575314 at 22072009-0ABB]


Smith & Boucher Engineers
25501 west valley parkway, suite 200
olathe, ks 66061
direct 913.344.0036
fax 913.345.0617

From: Equest-users [mailto:equest-users-bounces at lists.onebuilding.org] On Behalf Of Pasha Korber-Gonzalez
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 10:50 AM
To: eQUEST Users List
Subject: [Equest-users] New LEED issues brought up in Final review comments??

Hi  colleagues:    This is the first time this has happened to me...

We received final LEED comments back from a project and 3 new issues were brought up that were never recognized in the first round of comments.

The issues focused around unacceptable zone groupings, but this had not changed from the first submission of comments, so it felt like we were blindsided by the new issues that we were not given a chance to address the first time the LEED reviewer looked at the model results.   Based on these 3 new issues regarding the zoning all of the EAc1 points were denied and the project is now forced into an appeal process.

The kicker is that I didn't acquire this model until they needed help with the Reviewers comments...so the zoning was out of my hands, and it feels like there was no chance at "passing" LEED because we were never given a chance to address the zoning issue because they didn't recognize it the first time...

I'm frustrated...has anyone else had this happen, does it seem unreasonable?

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