Over the past 15 years, significant changes have been made in design and construction processes with the goal to protect the environment. A number of rating systems exist to measure how green a project is related to design, construction and operation of the building. One such rating system is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system. The purpose of this system is to reward construction projects that incorporate design strategies that increase energy efficiency and lower indoor air pollutant emissions. Some governments, municipalities and organizations believe so strongly in creating buildings that are healthy for the environment that they have developed policies and strategies to ensure that all new buildings and renovations meet LEED certification.
With the popularity of LEED growing, many are questioning if the needs of building users are being met with respect to office layout, lighting, temperature and acoustics (Lee & Geurin, 2009; 2010). Concerns exist that the design criteria under one of the primary categories, Indoor Environmental Quality, are narrow and primarily address the mechanical features of a building without fully addressing the needs of the occupant (Lee & Guerin, 2009). Research shows that post-occupancy experiences in LEED buildings are mixed (Birt & Newsham, 2009; Lee & Guerin, 2009; Paul & Taylor, 2008; Paevere & Brown, 2008)).
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has recognized the need for an enhanced focus on the building occupants. In March 2012, a pilot credit became available for those pursuing LEED that recognizes ergonomics the pilot credit is known as Pilot Credit 44. The intent of this credit is to provide 1 point towards LEED certification for the incorporation of an ergonomics strategy during the design process. The purpose of this credit is to design workplaces that will enhance occupant health, comfort, and productivity. This is an area that has been lacking within the LEED certification system. This credit can also be pursued under the Innovation in Design category for both the Canadian and US LEED certification processes. In the past few projects pursued the credit, but with the recent increase in awareness and labeling of the credit, 34 projects have registered for the credit to date.
To encourage decision-makers to pursue the credit in future LEED projects, ergonomists or those championing ergonomics must have a solid understanding of the credit so that when the LEED project team contemplates pursuing the credit a clear path can be laid out to achieve it. As suggested in one study, examining what perceived factors influenced selection of credits – three factors were highlighted which included: level of complexity, cost and synergy with other credits (Lavy & Ferandez-Solis, 2009). As ergonomists, if we can clearly outline how the ergonomics credit can be achieved, how it is linked to other credits, and that the credit shows strong cost-benefit analysis, there can be higher likelihood of selection in future projects.
To gain more information about the credit access to the following resources:
Association of Canadian Ergonomists: www.ace-ergocanada.ca
USGBC – Pilot Credits: http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=10097
Birt, B. & Newham, G. (2009). Post-occupancy evaluation of energy and indoor environment quality in green buildings: A review (NRCC-51211). Retrieved from National Research Council Institute for Research in Construction website: http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/obj/irc/doc/pubs/nrcc51211.pdf
Lavy, S., & Fernandez-Solis, J. (2009). LEED accredited professionals’ perceptions affecting credit point adoption. Facilities, 531-548.
Lee, Y. & Guerin, D. (2009). Indoor environmental quality related to occupant satisfaction and performance in LEED-certified buildings. Indoor and Built Environment, 18 (4), 292-300.
Lee, Y. & Guerin, D. (2010). IEQ quality differences between office types in LEED certified buildings in the US. Building & Environment, 43, 1104-1112.
Paul, W. & Brown, S. (2008). A comparison of occupant comfort and satisfaction between a green building and conventional building. Building and Environment, 43, 1858-1870.
Paevere, P. & Brown, S. (2008). Indoor environment quality and occupant productivity in the CH2 building: Post occupancy summary, CSIRO.