By Linda Miller, OTD, OT (C), CCPE, CPE
Since the inception of LEED certification in 2008 (a voluntary consensus-based standard with the aim to protect the environment, improve performance of building and improve occupant health), over 76,000 projects have been certified world-wide. Numerous studies have been completed highlighting the benefits to the environment and building performance, but results still remain mixed when it comes to occupant comfort (Newsham, 2010; Hedge, Miller, and Dorsey, 2014).
Studies demonstrate that occupants generally report higher levels of satisfaction with air quality and access to natural light following LEED certification, but frequently report low levels of satisfaction with work station comfort, noise levels and ambient temperature. Applying basic ergonomic considerations in work station design and selecting adjustable equipment can have a significant impact on comfort, performance and health. For this reason, addition of an ergonomics (Pilot Credit 44) credit within LEED was considered.
Pilot Credit 44 – History:
In 2008, the project group applying for LEED certification for the USGBC headquarters in New York requested that a credit for an ergonomics strategy be considered under the innovation in design category. They provided the foundation of a strategy for occupants to fully benefit from the design of the work space and selection of adjustable furniture and equipment. Eventually, their work became the foundation for the ergonomics pilot credit 44. By taking steps to satisfy the ergonomics credit, projects can receive one point towards certification under the innovation in design category.
Since that time, over 220 projects have applied for this credit. While this number of applications for the credit is considered very small in relation to the total number of projects that have been certified, it is important to remember this is still within the pilot credit library.
Need for revision of the credit:
In 2014, the USGBC contacted Lucy Hart, Mallory Lynch and myself to review and revise the pilot credit. The primary goal of the revision was to provide a clear roadmap for LEED project teams on how to apply and receive the credit.
Our goal is to see the credit move from the pilot credit library and adopted as a credit in the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) category. Moving it to the IEQ category acknowledges that the application of ergonomics in the design and operation of a space enhances indoor environmental quality, and occupant health and performance. In order for this to occur, the credit and its benefits must be well understood by project teams to increase the number of projects applying for the credit. With more projects successfully achieving the credit, this will illustrate that the application ergonomics is critical to the design and operation of LEED certified buildings, principally because of ergonomics leading to healthy and productive work spaces.
Revision of credit:
The first step in the review process was the evaluation of the existing credit language and a number of projects that had been submitted for the credit. During this first step of the project, it became evident that the existing credit language was difficult to interpret and apply for, especially for those not having an ergonomist or champion of ergonomics involved with the project. Through many hours of discussions and revisions, the pilot credit was revised and forwarded to the USGBC for review. With the feedback and guidance from the USGBC, the pilot credit language was revised with a focus on occupants using computers for the majority of their workday. The revisions also included a clear explanation of steps to achieve the credit and clarification of what is expected of applicants.
Highlights of the newly revised credit include:
- provision of a written commitment by management to incorporate an ergonomics strategy,
- engagement of an ergonomist or health and safety specialist at the beginning of the project to provide guidance on identifying occupant needs,
- how ergonomic principles will be incorporated into the project and a plan to ensure an ergonomics strategy will be implemented once the building is in operation.
Additionally, for existing buildings the credit requires the project team to provide specifics on how ergonomics principles were used to meet occupant needs through the selection of equipment/furniture and design the of the work space and outcomes of selected performance measures for one full year after occupancy.
To hear moreinformation regarding the credit, consider attending the Applied Ergonomics Conference in Orlando, Florida in March 2016
– Presentation 146. We will be discussing the revisions in further detail.
Also, stay tuned for the release of an upcoming webinar for those that can not
attend the conference.
If you would like more information regarding the credit revisions – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Newham, G. (2010). Research matters post-occupancy evaluation of green buildings. National
Research Council Canada. Retrieved from:http://www.nrccnrc.gc.ca/obj/irc/doc/pubs/nrcc53568.pdf
Hedge, A., Miller, L, & Dosey, J. (2014). Occupant comfort and health in green and conventional university buildings. Work: A journal of prevention, assessment and rehabilitation, 49 (3), 363-380.
Link for conference http://www.iienet2.org/ergo/conference/