About a year ago, I had heard of a project being touted as the area’s next LEED™ Gold certified project. The building owner, along with the design team and construction team, were all very proud of the effort put into making this a flagship building program that was making a statement for responsible design and construction. As the project came to closeout and the client began to move into the building, the necessary application documents were compiled for submission to the authorities responsible for certification.

What a shock it was for the building program team when they were told after an application audit that the job documentation did not support the application information. As a result, the project failed to achieve its Gold certification. What went wrong?

Well, the problem was that the application facilitator, the building owner, design team, and construction team had failed to maintain good documentation as it pertained to demonstrating the environmentally friendly materials used. So, everyone was tasked with digging through the boxes and boxes of shop drawings to pull out the missing materials submittals. Months later, with all the missing information in hand, the application was resubmitted and Gold certification was achieved.

So, how do you avoid this dilemma on your energy/environmentally responsible design? I only had to go to our company’s shop drawing submittal administrator to find out this problem could happen to us on our LEED design projects because we don’t have an efficient method of communicating to the submittal administrator that certain shop drawings need to be sorted so that we can easily access pertinent data should our project be audited by those who approve and reject LEED certification applications.

Our problem is that all the shop drawings coming into our office pass through the person who sorts the submittal by project and also stamps each submittal before passing these documents on to the designer for their review, approval, disapproval, and associated notes. She has no way of knowing that certain submittals on certain projects should be filed in a separate documentation file for easy access at a future date should the auditors come calling.

How could we correct this problem? Well, we took a look at our shop drawing stamp and decided it was time to update our stamp and make it certification-friendly. The result was a new submittal stamp that our administrator would now use as shop drawings continue to come into our office. When a shop drawing comes in now, our submittal administrator still doesn’t know whether special filing provisions need to occur but, once these shop drawings are forwarded on to the designer, this person can check off the box titled “Yes” when completing and processing the documents. Returning the submittals back to the administrator, she now knows to copy the “Yes” submittal electronically and file it in the job folder titled Job No./Submittal/LEED/HVAC. Now we are “certification-ready” with our submittal process.

Download and check out our new RDK Submittal/LEED shop drawing stamp (small Word file, 48kb), and let me know your thoughts and experiences with maintaining good submittal documentation for energy and environmental friendly projects.