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How Well Do You Know LEED v4? Answers to the LEEDuser Quiz

Answers to our diabolical quiz on LEED v4. How did you do? Comment in our forum.
October 16, 2012

The fifth draft of LEED v4 (formerly LEED 2012) is now out for public comment, and while there have been a lot of changes through the evolution of the next version of LEED, many of the key concepts and programs that it references appear to be taking hold. We asked our readers to test their knowledge of LEED v4 in this quiz (if you haven't taken it yet, go there first!), and now we reveal our diabolical answers below.

How did you do? What do you think about how LEED v4 is evolving? Please comment below, and in this official LEED v4 fifth public comment forum.

Need to bone up on LEED v4?

If you're already a LEEDuser member, look for the download link in the sidebar to the right.

Not yet a LEEDuser member? You can get the LEED v4 report for free with a 30-day trial subscription to LEEDuser.

LEED v4 quiz answer key

1) An environmental product declaration (EPD) is a shortened version of a:

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      a.    life-cycle inventory (LCI)

      b.    product category rule (PCR)

      c.    life-cycle analysis (LCA)

      d.    corporate sustainability report (CSR)

An EPD is like the Cliffs Notes version of an LCA, which is a tome of a report detailing various environmental impacts. (An LCI is related, but it’s done before an LCA to help identify which impacts ought to be measured in the first place.)

It’s easy to get tangled up in these acronyms, so check out this downloadable transparency infographic we developed to help you keep them straight.


2) LEED v4 includes a new credit for:

      a.    avoiding certain dangerous chemicals

      b.    using products whose ingredients have been reported by manufacturers, even if they contain dangerous chemicals

      c.    both of these

      d.    neither of these

Much to the confusion and consternation of some critics, LEED points are available under v4 for simply disclosing product ingredients—even if those ingredients are really nasty. This is because USGBC is trying to encourage more transparency; although the ultimate goal is better performance, they argue that it’s too hard to track and incentivize that without a baseline to work from.

And much to the chagrin of certain actors in the chemical industry, points are also available under v4 for avoiding chemicals other than urea formaldehyde, the old standby.


3) Which of the following lesser-known programs is NOT poised to gain in stature through inclusion in LEED v4, in the way that LEED’s certified wood credit helped bring FSC into the mainstream?

      a.    Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)

      b.    Framework for Responsible Mining

      c.    GreenScreen

      d.    American High-Performance Buildings Coalition

      e.    Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)

If you guessed the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC), you correctly sensed the one of these that was not like the other. Although only time will tell what it does, AHPBC appears to be positioning itself as a chemical-industry-friendly competitor to USGBC, and not a program likely to be referenced within LEED.

The other programs are referenced in LEED v4 drafts. The Framework for Responsible Mining is not referenced in the fifth draft, so that could also be a correct answer. The Framework was referenced in earlier drafts but not the fifth public comment draft, although current  language leaves USGBC the option of naming additional programs in the future.


4) Which of the following would LEED v4 require under a Building Envelope Commissioning (BECx) option for Enhanced Commissioning?

      a.    Implement a project specific plan that includes testing, who is to perform the testing, when testing will occur, criteria for acceptance, how testing will be documented and who will receive the documentation of the testing.

      b.    Review construction document details for continuity, performance, constructability and value. Review details for interface of the various enclosure systems.

      c.    Perform site observations to coordinate with specific installation of enclo- sure details, including field mock-ups, start-up of trades, complex details, field testing and problematic installations.

      d.    Verify mock up construction in the field to demonstrate workmanship has been completed and the work in place on the building complies with the manufacturer’s installation instructions, design intent and specifications.

      e.    None of the above


This was a bit of a trick question, because the options use language quoted directly from NIBS Guideline 3, a key document in defining appropriate BECx actions, and one referenced in LEED v4.

However, none of these specific actions are referenced in the draft LEED v4 credit language, and the draft language does not appear to require the kind of detail review, onsite testing, and observation that some argue is a key part of what makes BECx effective.


5) Why would you want to get a BUG rating number if you were working on a LEED v4 project?

      a.    You’d want to know how well your seed mixture is rated to perform in providing insect and wildlife habitat.

      b.    You’d want to increase the number of Bicycle User Groups you were serving with bicycle racks and routes.

      c.    You’d want to know how well an exterior luminaire does in relation to prescriptive requirements for light pollution reduction.

      d.    Everyone wants to avoid a Big Ugly Goof—especially when verifying your energy modeling results.


The “BUG” in BUG rating stands for Backlight, Uplight, and Glare—a system of subdivided zones around outdoor luminaires to measure and report fixture data for compliance with light pollution restrictions.


6) Why has California Section 01350 been removed from the LEED v4 drafts?

      a.    Because VOC emissions testing is no longer part of the rating systems.

      b.    Because Section 01350 is an inaccurate name for the required VOC testing method.

      c.    Because the credit for “no added urea formaldehyde” in certain materials has been removed.

      d.    Because wet-applied materials must now be tested for VOC emissions as well as VOC content.


Long story short: Section 01350 is a specification that deals with a number of IAQ issues. It’s not in and of itself an emissions testing standard, and it never has been.

01350 does reference a certain emissions testing standard, which has this catchy name: the CDPH Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers, Version 1.1 (2010).

You can see the appeal of shortening that to 01350, but from now on you can expect to see the more accurate nicknames “CDPH Standard” or “CDPH Standard Method” in LEED and elsewhere.


7) Spatial daylight autonomy is a sophisticated way to model daylighting because:

      a.    it looks at available daylight over the course of an entire year.

      b.    it includes protection against glare.

      c.    it accounts for occupant behavior.

      d.    it measures actual daylight levels after construction.

Really sophisticated daylight modeling can also include glare simulations and certain occupant behaviors (like closing shades), but the metric known as spatial daylight autonomy (sDA) doesn’t do that on its own.

Rather, sDA looks at the percentage of time that a certain space can be free of any electric lighting (hence “autonomy”) over the course of a whole year. That’s different from older methods that just used the equinoxes as a proxy.

A separate metric is needed to account for glare (in LEED, annual sunlight exposure, or ASE, is used).


8) What’s the key difference in the LEED v4 rainwater requirements, versus LEED 2009’s stormwater management?

      a.    It’s all in the name: rainwater is a natural phenomenon; stormwater is a management problem.

      b.    There’s an emphasis on infiltration through use of onsite hydrology.

      c.    There isn’t much of a difference—just updated language.

      d.    Swales are preferred over rain gardens.

“B” is the answer we were looking for, but “A” is also acceptable, because it aligns with the overall theme in which low-impact development (LID) measures relying on soil science are favored over more simpler drainage and retention systems. At the same time, we don’t blame if you for choosing “C,” because if you’re not a hydrology expert, the differences can appear at a glance to be pretty academic. Answer “D” is definitely down the drain: rain gardens are generally preferred over swales under the new regimen.


9) Acoustic Performance is a new credit in all the LEED v4 BD&C rating systems, but Minimum Acoustic Performance is also a prerequisite in:

      a.    LEED for Schools

      b.    LEED for Healthcare

      c.    LEED for Hospitality

      d.    All of the above

Good acoustics are essential to the basic function of a school—learning—so certain minimal performance is required in that rating system. In LEED v4 for Healthcare, acoustics are given more meticulous attention in this credit, but it’s still not a prerequisite.


10) What is the big-picture thinking behind LEED v4’s Demand Response credit?

      a.    It’s just a big typo—was meant to be “Demand Repose” in support of office employees being able to request nap rooms.

      b.    LEED has a long history of paying attention to how buildings fit into their surrounding infrastructure when it comes to location, transportation, and wastewater—but not energy.

      c.    Improving bottom-line issues for green buildings.

      d.    Bringing LEED buildings up to speed with where a majority of commercial office buildings already are.

The Demand Response credit is meant to encourage two-way communication between buildings and electric utilities, supporting sophisticated load management on both sides of the meter. Experts are hoping that LEED will lead the way toward more buildings adopting these measures.

How did you do?

How did you do on our quiz? Do you disagree with any of the characterizations?

Feeling like you should bone up on LEED v4?

If you're already a LEEDuser member, look for the download link in the sidebar to the right.

Not yet a LEEDuser member? You can get the LEED v4 report for free with a 30-day trial subscription to LEEDuser.


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