The City of Fort Collins Utility Administration Building completed construction in early Fall 2016 on their new 37,000 square-foot facility. The new building helps facilitate a collaborative environment by bringing together a variety of departments that had been previously housed among six other locations. The building was the first in the state of Colorado to be certified LEED Platinum v4 for New Construction and the third in the United States. Additionally, the Utility Administration Building is home to the first outdoor living wall in the state of Colorado. The Utility Administration Building is one to be sought after and a good model for energy efficient systems and strategies.
IBE has provided guidance through sustainability research and consulting, facilitation of the integrative design process, and LEED certification management. Following construction, IBE assisted with outreach efforts to promote the project in the community, including press releases and post-occupancy surveys.
First LEEDv4 New Construction Platinum project in Colorado
– Designed to be net zero, earning all Energy and Atmosphere LEED credit points
– Photovoltaic systems produce 50% of building’s energy consumption
– 97% construction waste diversion
– Installed building materials that have lower impact on environment and occupant health
– Quality views for 97% of regularly occupied spaces

Location: 222 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO
Certification: LEED BD+C v4 Platinum
Project Type: Municipal Building
Owner: City of Fort Collins
Architect: RNL Design
Contractor: Adolfson and Peterson
Client: City of Fort Collins

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City of Fort Collins Utilities Administration Building LEED v4 Celebration

Thursday, June 8, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Utilities Administration Building in Fort Collins

Cost: FREE

Join IBE, USGBC Colorado’s Northern Branch, and the City of Fort Collins as we celebrate the completion of Fort Collin’s Utilities Administration Building, one of Colorado’s first completed LEED v4 New Construction project. During this open house celebration, tours will be held back to back, the LEED project team and USGBC will deliver the plaque ceremony, and free barbecue lunch will be provided to those who tour the ASSA ABLOY Sustainability Showcase Truck.

The new administration building is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the state, is targeting LEED Platinum level, and more than 95% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills. Let’s celebrate this amazing building together. All are welcomed to attend.

This event is sponsored by ASSA ABLOY. Learn about ASSA ABLOY’s role in security and sustainability by touring their sustainability truck during the event! Register.


11am to 11:30am: tour 1
11:15am to 11:45am: tour 2
11:45am to 12:15pm: tour 3
12:30pm to 1:00pm: UAB Plaque Ceremony
1:30pm to 2pm: tour 4
1:45 to 2:15pm: tour 5

LEED v4 Materials

Samala Hartley, Sustainable Building Associate

There are three Materials and Resources credits that focus on the disclosure and optimization of materials used on a project. The intent of these credits is to encourage the use of products where manufacturers are forthright with all the material and chemical ingredients used and their practices to procure raw materials.

LEED v4, MRc4, “Building product disclosure and optimization – sourcing of raw materials” places preference on manufacturers who publicly report information about their raw material suppliers and on responsible harvesting and extraction. In the point system, these two ideas are not exclusive to one another.

In addition to specifically emphasizing the sourcing of raw materials, this credit also combines a variety of other v3 materials credits into one. The following credits from v3 show up within v4 MRc4:

  • MRc3 – Materials Reuse
  • MRc4 – Recycled Content
  • MRc5 – Regional Materials
  • MRc6 – Rapidly Renewable Materials
  • MRc6 – Certified Wood

Now, let’s dissect that credit title.

Building Product Disclosure & Optimization: Sourcing of Raw Materials

Building product: the permanently installed products of a building, separate from the installation costs.
Disclosure: exposing information about a manufacturer’s products and processes. The rationale behind this is that when companies start disclosing this information they are held accountable for their practices and will be incentivized to improve.  This will result in greater, and faster, positive change in the marketplace.
Optimization:  Optimizing informed and sustainable decision making.
Sourcing of raw materials: “Sourcing” not only refers to the location of raw material extraction/harvesting, but also the use of recycled content and even the use of salvaged materials.

What are the options?

Option 1: Raw material source and extraction reporting

This option requires the use of materials from manufacturers that publicly disclose information about their product’s raw material suppliers and their commitment to ecological and environmental responsibility.

1 point is earned by specifying 20 products that meet the requirement (from at least 5 different manufacturers).
  • Products from manufacturers who disclose their practices through a third party verified corporate sustainability report qualify as 1 full product.
  • Products from manufacturers who create their own, unverified, report qualify as ½ a product.

Option 2: Leadership extraction practices

This option is a compilation of all the MR credits from version 3. In combination you must show that at least 25% of the materials cost has some sustainable value, including:
  • Extended producer responsibility (50% of the product value can contribute)
  • Bio-based materials: Meet Sustainable Agriculture Network’s Sustainable Agriculture Standard (verifies sustainable harvesting)
  • Wood products: Meet FSC certified
  • Materials Reuse: salvaged, refurbished, & reused products
  • Recycled Content: sum of post-consumer plus ½ pre-consumer recycled content
Regional location of a material becomes a valuation factor that can add value based on the proximity of the source material. The distance has decreased from 500 miles in v3 to 100 miles from the project site in v4.
USGBC is taking a new approach to the materials credits by emphasizing the greater transparency of manufacturers. Thus the new credits award more points for this disclosure, and less for the material content.

LEED Regionalization for LEED v4

April Brown, IBE Projects Manager

Initially introduced in the LEED 2009 version updates, USGBCrecognizes projects for addressing regionally specific environmental issues. In each of the rating systems, bonus points are awarded for projects that meet the requirements for existing LEED credits that address regional issues. There are 6 regional priority credit options and teams can be awarded for up to 4 out of the 6 options. The environmental issues are identified through a rigorous research process by volunteer environmental scientists and green building professionals in Colorado.
LEED v4 Regional Priority Zones for the state of Colorado

As you may have heard, LEED is undergoing another version update, now referred to as LEED v4, which is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2013. Part of the updates to the rating systems include updated regional priority credits. USGBC Colorado Chapter, along with all the other chapters of the USGBC, created a LEED regionalization task force to evaluate which credits to prioritize in LEED v4 for the state of Colorado. The Colorado task force followed a 4-step process to evaluate the environmental issues and their appropriate zones, which took one year. Some regional priority credits will be changing from the regional priority credits in LEED 2009. A few of the task force members will speak in detail about the process and recommendations for LEED v4 regional priority credits at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Green Conference in Denver on Friday, April 26.

Daylighting in LEED v4

Scott Preston, Sustainable Building Associate

While technology allows us to artificially light a building’s interior, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best solution. Exposure to daylight has health and well-being benefits, especially indoors, where, according to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. For these reasons, there has been growing demand for a reduction in electric lighting and mechanical cooling through architectural daylighting strategies. Daylight has immense power that can overwhelm any designer with the best intentions. Even the best green buildings designed by world-famous architecture firms have examples of too much glare, overheating, loss of productivity and situations of blinds drawn and lights always on.

A well-designed daylit building is estimated to reduce lighting energy use by 50%-80%. The 2009 LEED rating system encourages adequate daylighting in schools and commercial buildings by requiring daylight for 75-90% of regularly occupied spaces. In the current system, compliance can be calculated and documented by implementing one of four options: a computer simulation, a prescriptive method (demonstrating compliance of side and top lighting drawn and measured in sections), measurement (demonstrated through records of indoor light measurements) or a combination of the preceding 3 options.

Daylight modeling software is the best approach to dynamic daylighting metrics.  This approach can predict daylight and glare within a building with incredible accuracy.  In LEED v4, the credit has been updated to address recent innovations in daylight modeling.  Moving forward, the most points will be awarded for a project that implements a more sophisticated and dynamic metric called spatial daylight autonomy or sDA.  This refers to the percentage of the “work plane” that is above 300 lux (28 foot-candles) at least 50% of the time during the spaces occupied hours over the course of the entire year.  This may encourage designers to overglaze the building and therefore the credit requires glare simulations as a counterpoint.  The intent of the credit is to connect building occupants with the outdoors, reinforce circadian rhythms, and reduce the use of electrical lighting by introducing daylight into the space.

LEED v4: It’ll be here before you know it!

By: Becky Moriarty, Sustainable Building Associate

LEED version 4 is slowly, but surely on its way. USGBC surprised the industry when it announced last June that it was postponing the release of its latest version of LEED. According to an article published by Environmental Building News, building industry professionals complained that the new program was too much, too fast, the credits needed more refinement, and the resources needed to achieve certain credits were not readily available.[1] Appropriately, the name changed from LEED 2012 to LEED v4.

Despite the slight uproar, development of the program is moving along. In comparison to the updates for LEED version 3, this iteration will be much more technically rigorous than the foundational changes of the past. USGBC intends to simplify the process while simultaneously raising the bar for the building industry. As part of development, there have been multiple public comment periods (mark your calendars for the March 1st – March 31st 6th public comment session), responses from USGBC member committees, a beta testing period, and a ballot vote that will take place in the summer of 2013 among USGBC members. Click here to check out the 5th public comment responses. When the ballot is approved by the USGBC members, LEED v4 will become available to project teams, which is anticipated in the late summer or fall of 2013. USGBC has promised that LEED 2009 will also remain available for new registrations until June 2015.

So what exactly are the changes? The first is new credit categories, including new prerequisites and credits across all credit categories and rating systems. These new standards are strengthening what it means for a building to be LEED certified. USGBC is aiming beyond net-zero into net-positive and the new credits, prerequisites and categories will help the building industry to achieve this ambitious charge. The new categories include Integrative Process, Location and Transportation and Performance. New credits are currently being tested in the Pilot Credit Library and project teams’ experience and feedback has helped to improve and refine new credits. For a comprehensive look at the changes to specific credits in LEED v4, check out the “New Concepts in LEED v4” article published by Environmental Building News and the “LEED v4” article published by HPAC Engineering. Additionally, here is a look at the latest version of the LEED for New Construction scorecard, with stars next to the credits in which substantive changes are proposed.

LEED v4 Draft Scorecard

The next major change is to the technical content. In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions more than any other version of the LEED rating systems, LEED v4 has substantially improved the standards for building performance. The changes include: emphasis on integrated project teams, rewarding development in existing built environments, low-impact development, expansion of water efficiency, and promotion of lifecycle analysis of materials, just to name a few. Furthermore, impact categories were developed to help determine not only the technical requirements of the rating systems, but also the reallocation of points assigned to each credit. LEED 2009 focused on decreasing damage caused by the built environment whereas the impact categories for LEED v4 strive to promote projects that contribute positively to the environment and to the community.

LEED v4 Impact Categories

In addition to the rating system changes, the website has been updated. In an effort to create a better online experience, the new USGBC website is simplified, informative and easy to navigate. It provides the languages of the rating systems in one place. Rather than the paper editions of the past, the website will have the most up-to-date information regarding the various rating systems, credit resources, and a forum for discussion, streamlining services for LEED practitioners.

USGBC’s New Website

Finally, LEED v4 will reach new market sectors including data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality facilities, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential. For updates on the changes being made to the LEED rating systems, check out:

With that, I challenge all building industry players to become familiar with the new rating systems and invest in the positive mission USGBC is promoting. We have a responsibility to our communities and to the planet to provide safe, viable and sustainable built environments and LEED v4 is helping to pave the way for our industry.

Lastly, be proactive and participate in the development process; don’t forget to submit your comments to USGBC between now and March 31st during the 6th public comment period.