Low Price… High Risk?

The lowest price is not always the best way to hire a LEED project credit-related consultant.

When you hire project consultants and contractors, sometimes the most expensive thing you can do is to choose the lowest bidder. Here is a simple 4-part strategy for analyzing the real costs of a proposal.

Right Price, …Wrong Professional?

The LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) on a project is often tasked with hiring the consultants providing services for LEED credits and prerequisites.

The usual way of doing business for many construction projects is to hire the service bidders who present the lowest price in a tender process or bid proposal. Those price figures can be tempting when trying to keep sustainability-related costs down on a LEED project.

But while it may look like this is a way to cut LEED costs on the project budget, upfront prices can be deceiving – and very costly.

Choosing the wrong consultant for a LEED credit/prerequisite related specialty can lead to project delays and mistakes, which may result in work having to be redone.

Identify Key Consultants for LEED Certification

The two usual consultants on a LEED project (besides the LEED AP) are the commissioning agent (CxA) and energy modeler.

LEED-related consultants may also include a daylight modeler, a light pollution modeler, and an air quality testing service. While the last three consultants mentioned may not be critical to the project, the commissioning agent and energy modeler are important since their work impacts two LEED prerequisites, and in the case of the energy modeler. a significant credit; Optimize Energy Performance.

The 4-Point Criteria for Analyzing Potential Risks

So which criterion is key for hiring the best consultants when managing a LEED project apart from price? There are four key points and related questions to consider.

A LEED AP or hiring manager needs to be sure that they are hiring someone with the technical expertise and experience.

It can be frustrating at the end of a project when work is rejected at the certification review and it has to be reworked for corrections. Or perhaps a project is delayed because the consultant’s schedule is limited since they’re committed to other projects.

When hiring one of these consultants it would be helpful to create a weighted metric to evaluate them. The price maybe say only 40 or 50 percent of the total consideration. Technical skill is weighted at 30 percent, and availability and communication experience are 10 percent each. Most good quantity surveyors are familiar with these types of metrics for evaluating proposals and tenders.

1. Experience

Have the consultants done a LEED project before? If so, how many projects? If not, how many similar projects have, they done?

For example, how many non-LEED buildings has the CxA commissioned or how many energy models an energy modeler performed? Similar questions can also be applied to other modelers such as the daylight modeler or light pollution modeler.

Experience is probably one of the most important qualifications. Inexperience can lead to mistakes and possible time delays. Also, an experienced LEED specialty consultant will be familiar with the issues that come up during certification and know how to best address them.

Experienced consultants in the area related to commissioning and energy modeling will also have a holistic view of a building project. They’ll understand how a building works and be able to look for subtle signs that may indicate errors in their respective areas of work. Such items as an incorrect installation in the case of the commissioning agent, or incorrect data input that results in illogical building performance statistics in the case of the energy modeler may be clues they can spot quickly.

2. Technical Knowledge

Is the consultant familiar with the code standards that impact their specialty area? Do they know ASHRAE 90.1 Appendix G in the case of the energy modeler? Is your commissioning agent familiar with ASHRAE guidelines 0-2005 and 1.1-2007 HVAC&R for commissioning?

In both cases, it is definitely a big plus if the consultant has an engineering background that helps them understand the technical operations of a building.

3. Availability

Are the consultants local to the country or region the project is in? Do they have a local branch in the country of the project but need to bring in consultants from a significant distance overseas?

For some consultants such as modelers, this may be irrelevant. But in the case of a commissioning agent having a local presence and local area knowledge is a big advantage.

Also, consider how busy prospective consultants are. What is their current project load? Will they have time to meet the requirements and schedule of a building construction project?

4. Communications

As with all consultants, it is important that they have good communication skills.

Questions to consider include; will they have a regular reporting process in place to keep the client and project manager informed with how they are doing? How will they integrate into a team with other consultants on a project? Can they be easily contacted if an emergency arises? Can they speak to various team members in technical as well as layman terms? What methods would they use to address a problem if something arises in their work?

By using this 4-part formula, you may end up paying a little more on the front end, but save thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of project consultant costs and with the LEED certification process.

At Ecostep Building, we understand that this analytical process can be complicated. To help you, we offer an initial complimentary consultation. During this 45-minute meeting, we will help you weigh the pros and cons of different contractors and consultants on your project.

Contact us at: info@ecostepbuilding.com or call +65-8621-7874