The Winning Strategy to Managing Your LEED Project


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By Sherry Bonelli

To effectively manage a LEED project, you – and your team – need to think differently. All of the LEED-related requirements need to align with the different phases of the architectural design phase all the way through construction and building occupation. Don’t be afraid. You’ll still follow the traditional design process, but all team members need to consider LEED components throughout the entire design and building process. In other words, you need an integrated design approach – an approach that often isn’t used in traditional building design projects.

What does this mean for the way your team is managed? This means that no longer can your mechanical engineer work on his own, your electrical engineer can’t work on her designs in a silo, the entire team needs to work together from the beginning of the LEED project – all the way to completion.

One of the most important things you need to do as a LEED project manager is get your entire team, the contractor and the owner together in one room when the project kicks off so you can define the project, establish roles and responsibilities and identify your LEED goals.

In this initial meeting you need to collect information about the project, assess and establish your LEED credit targets, determine which certification you’re trying to achieve and create a clear roadmap for LEED certification. One of the most important things you need to do during these team meetings is get everyone’s approval for the direction the project is headed and ensure open communication at all times with every team member. No one can work in isolation…

Throughout the entire design and building process (design phase, schematic design phase, design development phase all the way through construction documents) the goal is to work together to ensure that all specialties are coordinating with each other so that the systems designed will work together to achieve the LEED requirements.

Due to the number of cross-functional interactions, it is crucial that all team members have open dialogue and work synergistically with the various disciplines – that will allow you to get the best results for your LEED project. It is only through the efforts and contributions of the entire team with varying expertise that a LEED project can come together successfully.

This model may be a big shift for your team who may be used to working on more traditional projects. As a LEED project manager it’s your job to encourage engagement of all team members right from the beginning of the project so there is a clear scope and ongoing collaboration throughout the entire project. Clearly defined roles and communication can help avert any conflicts – especially when egos get involved

A LEED project is a classic example of a project where a team model is the only way the project will work.

Bottom line: To run a successful LEED project, get your team’s buy-in early. Encourage communication with all team members (that means that your mechanical engineers have to talk to the contractors, they just have to…) and keep the entire team updated on progress throughout the duration of the project.

Your goal is to give your client a LEED certified building. Working as a true team is the only way to accomplish that goal. Good luck!

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