LEED Integrative Process Credit Explained

LEED Integrative Process Credit Explained


In this blog posts, we will explain the Integrative Process credit under the LEED BD+C v4 rating system, which is also a part of the LEED Green Associate and the LEED AP BD+C exam.

Integrative process, which is a major concept of sustainable thinking, emphasizes the importance of connection and communication among all the professionals and stakeholders in the project. Consider the human lung, which is made of lots of cells. However, when the cells are put together, without the whole system in place, these cells cannot perform the breathing function of the lung. Without a working system, an emergent property cannot be created.

Assembling the project owner, key stakeholders, architects, civil engineers, and mechanical and electrical engineers will not create a successful project; rather, a system should be formed that incorporates flow of information and collaboration between each member for each phase of the project.The integrative process credit encourages the coordination of all the project team members, starting from the predesign phase, to discover unique opportunities for project design, enhanced building performance, and green features.

In order to earn this credit, project teams need to conduct preliminary research and analysis for the energy- and water-related systems of the building, starting from the predesign phase. Project teams also need to evaluate the possible energy and water strategies to achieve the project’s goals and the targeted LEED credits. This really means brainstorming and value engineering the energy- and water-related building systems beforehand to not only avoid encountering unforeseen conditions but also to find the most effective solutions meeting the project’s goals. Next, there is the implementation phase, which requires the project teams to turn their findings into reality.


Starting from the predesign phase and continuing throughout all the design phases, project teams should implement an integrative process to enable project teams to discover unique opportunities for enhancing project performance and environmental benefits. In other words, the project teams should identify and use opportunities to achieve synergies across disciplines and building systems.

Project teams should perform analyses for both energy- and water-related systems. And with their findings, project teams should inform the owner’s project requirements (OPR), basis of design (BOD), and design and construction documents.

Requirements for the energy related systems:

Before completing the schematic design, project teams should perform a “simple box” energy modeling that will enable the project teams to see the approximate energy usage of the building and evaluate strategies on how to reduce the energy use by questioning the default assumptions. A simple box energy modeling is a preliminary building model used to analyze the building’s energy loads. Project teams can use the EPA’s Target Finder tool or a similar tool in order to benchmark energy performance. Target Finder allows projects to set target goals for a building design’s energy demands. And according to the enhancements in the design, project teams can see the savings in energy demand.

In order to reduce the energy loads, project teams should assess at least two strategies related with site conditions; massing and orientation; basic envelope attributes; lighting levels; thermal comfort ranges; plug and process load needs; and programmatic and operational parameters as defined under the credit.

One possible strategy might be to change the building’s base location orientation in order to get more sunlight to the interior spaces so that the lighting energy loads can be reduced. Or the envelope of the building can be optimized according to the project’s location in order to reduce the HVAC loads. And while the project teams look for ways to improve the project performance, they also need to consider strategies of how to achieve the corresponding LEED credits.
At last, theproject teams should document how these analyses and findings informed the project’s OPR, BOD, and other building systems as defined by the credit.

Requirements for the water related systems:

Similar to the “simple box” energy modeling, which shows the building’s energy demand, projects should this time perform a preliminary water budget analysis before completing the schematic design and calculate the project’s water demand volume. Next, project teams should look for strategies for reducing the potable water consumption, including assessment of the nonpotable water sources. Project teams should evaluate the indoor water demand; outdoor water demand; process water demand; and supply sources as defined under the credit requirements.

The credit requires projects to find at least one nonpotable water source and reduce the burden on the municipality-supplied water or wastewater treatment systems. For example, the project teams can decide to install a graywater system and use the captured rainwater as a portion of the irrigation water and toilet water.

At last, the project teams should document how these analyses and findings informed the project’s OPR, BOD, and other building systems as defined by the credit.

With the completion of the preliminary energy and water research and analysis, the credit requires project teams to conduct a goal-setting workshop to identify the targeted LEED credits, identify performance targets, share the findings that were previously found, and identify initial responsibilities. Next, the project teams can effectively proceed with evaluating the agreed-upon project goals by exploring strategies.

LEED has other credits tied to the energy- and water-related system items mentioned previously. For example, the indoor water use reduction credit will enable the project teams to earn points in accordance with the percentage of potable water reduction they establish. If a project team decides to pursue this credit, a preliminary water budget analysis will be a good starting point to evaluate all the alternatives for reducing the building’s potable water demand. In addition, by implementing the integrative process, the project owner will also be informed about the suggested changes while the owner’s project requirements, basis of design, design documents, and construction documents can be adjusted accordingly.

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