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MPR2 Supplemental Guidance from USGBC

This Bird's Eye View text is from USGBC's MPR Supplemental Guidance Revision #2. See the Credit Language tab for the MPR requirements.


The LEED rating systems were designed to evaluate complete buildings and spaces in fixed locations. Partial buildings or spaces are unsuitable for LEED certification because when analyzed under the requirements of LEED prerequisites and credits, they create results inconsistent with those of whole buildings or spaces. Also, partial certification can easily appear to encompass an entire building or space, sending a false message to the occupants.

Permanency is important because a significant percentage of LEED prerequisites and credits are dependent on location, making a mobile building or space unacceptable. The stipulation for already existing land responds to the fact that artificial land masses displace and disrupt marine ecosystems. Buildings that generate the need to develop such land do not meet the overall intent of the LEED rating system. Anything less than a distinct, complete, and permanent project on existing land will not be able to accurately demonstrate compliance with LEED.


Attached Buildings

MPR#2 requires a LEED project to be a building in its entirety for use of all but the Commercial Interiors Rating Systems. This section allows for buildings (such as additions) that do not meet the definition of entirety to comply with MPR#2 if certain conditions are met. The conditions listed below are written to prevent two kinds of problems that attached buildings can lead to: 1) compromised technical integrity of LEED certification and 2) misperception of certification boundaries.

This section lists conditions and guidance in three parts. All attached buildings should comply with part I, and those buildings attached to buildings that are already LEED-certified should comply with part II; whereas those attached to buildings that are not already LEED-certified should comply with part III.

I.    ALL attached buildings

II.    Buildings attached to LEED-certified buildings

III.    Buildings attached to non LEED-certified buildings



The majority of the certifying floor area vs. the non-certifying floor area is often clear, as a result of construction, ownership, management, or space usage type boundaries. Often, one or more of the following occurs, making it difficult to draw the exact line of the LEED project boundary:

1.    Minor construction work is occurring outside of the area intended to be LEED certified

2.    Circulation space serves several attached buildings 3.    New core mechanical systems that serve several attached buildings are being


Project teams must use their own judgment to make reasonable decisions about these situations on a case by case basis. Generally, construction work or space that serves buildings other than the one certifying should be excluded from the LEED project boundary. Note that construction work extending into non-certifying area must be consistently excluded from the certification process.

See guidance under MPR #3 for more information on determining the LEED project boundary in terms of surrounding land.


For prerequisites and credits that deal with mechanical systems, the project team has three choices:

a)    Separate systems Mechanical systems are completely separate from those in the existing building (emergency generators excepted) and can be modeled separately.

b)    Shared central systems located outside of the structures in question The District and Campus Thermal Energy Treatment guidance, available at usgbc.org under the ‘Energy and Atmosphere’ section of any whole building rating system page, explains how to create an energy model in this situation.

c)    Shared central systems located inside the structures in question LEED-CI EAc1.3 Option 2 gives guidance on modeling the entire addition and all systems serving the addition.


As with any project that does not clearly fit into a given rating system, the project team should consult the Rating System Selection Guidance (at usgbc.org, under ‘rating systems’). The certifying gross floor area, and only that area, should be used to determine which rating system is appropriate.


The documentation of the certifying project must not create technical barriers to the completion of the certification review. It is incumbent upon the project team to ensure the following:

a)    The distinction between the certifying and non-certifying gross floor area (in particular, the LEED project boundary) is clearly delineated on all relevant documents.

b)    All building components of the LEED project that are addressed by LEED prerequisites and pursued credits (systems, materials, etc) are separate or separable for the purposes of the LEED review, from the building to which it is attached.

5)    The LEED project, as defined by the LEED project boundary, must meet all MPR, prerequisite, and credit requirements independent of any building it may be attached to.

6)    The certifying gross floor area must be contiguous. Multiple floors are acceptable, but non-certifying floors between certifying floors are not.

NOTE: please see page 19 for multiple floor exceptions.

7)    Fire safety infrastructure such as sprinklers, stairwells, and alarm systems may be shared with the non-certifying building.

8)    LEED-EB: O&M project teams are encouraged to carefully review the requirements for EA Prerequisite 2 and Credit 1: Minimum/Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance before registering an attached building.


If a wing or tower is connected to a building that is already LEED certified, the addition/attached building may be considered a separate building for LEED purposes if the following conditions are met.


The existing, previously certified building may have been certified under any version of one of the following rating systems.

  • LEED-EB: O&M
  • LEED-Retail: NC
  • LEED-CI &/or LEED-Retail: CI (ONLY if at least 90% of the existing building’s total gross floor area was certified)

The currently certifying attached building should use a design and construction whole building rating system.


All buildings physically attached to the building currently pursuing certification must already be LEED certified. In the plan view below, this exception applies to Addition A in relation to the main building ONLY– the project team would need to meet the conditions listed for buildings attached to non-LEED certified buildings for the Wing A/Wing B connection.



If the certifying project is certifying under LEED-EB: O&M OR is a major renovation AND/OR is vertically attached to the non-certifying building, then it must be separated from the attached building by the following: a) Ownership

AND b)    Management OR space usage type


A separate name (including, if a horizontally attached project, a word such as ‘addition’, or ‘wing’ that indicates a physical difference) must be given to the certifying building. The same name must be used for all purposes – title of the LEED project as registered with USGBC / GBCI, in formal publications, internal and external property listings and databases, signage, etc.


LEED certification must be accurately communicated to building users. All promotional and descriptive material produced by the owner or on the owner’s behalf clearly distinguish the LEED certified building from any other that it is attached to. This includes clearly marking the distinction between the two spaces with signage. Alternatively, if the LEED certification of the building is confidential, the project team may opt to not communicate the achievement of LEED certification. In this situation, no signage, marketing, or publicity of any kind would announce the LEED certification.


The certifying gross floor area must include at least 20% of the gross floor area of the overall structure. If the entirety of the certifying project OR the entirety of the non- certifying gross floor area is public infrastructure (such as a subway station) then this rule does not apply.


a. Energy usage meter - Every energy source servicing the building must be separately metered (emergency generators excepted).

b. Water usage meter

The definitions of vertically and horizontally attached buildings are further illustrated below.

Previously developed support structures and artificial land mass

Buildings located on previously constructed docks, piers, jetties, infill, and other manufactured structures in or above water are permissible, provided that artificial land is previously developed (i.e., the land once supported another building or hardscape constructed for a purpose other than the development of the LEED project).

Buildings cantilevered over water, highways, or other bodies are acceptable. o    Existing dry land (i.e. not wetlands) to which soil or other material has been added complies with this MPR.

10% exemption for multi-tenant buildings certifying under LEED-EB: O&M

Multi-tenant buildings certifying under LEED-EB: O&M may exclude up to 10% of the gross floor area from some prerequisites and credits as outlined in the LEED-EB: O&M reference guide and the submittal forms in LEED Online v3.

Construction scope that may be excluded from a LEED-CI project boundary

Sometimes elements of the exterior shell, primary structural components, or core mechanical systems that are being renovated or installed in parallel to the interior fit-out or alteration make up the bulk of the LEED project. Spaces containing these elements may be excluded from the LEED project space if those elements are not under the control of the entity conducting the interior fit-out or alteration.

The line between certifying floor area and non-certifying floor area is not always clear. Project teams must use their own judgment to make reasonable decisions about these situations on a case by case basis. Generally, construction work or space that serves spaces other than the one certifying may be excluded from the LEED project boundary. Note that construction work extending into non-certifying area must be consistently excluded from the certification process.

Understanding “complete interior space”

Basic Definition For commercial interiors projects, this MPR states:

“The LEED project scope must include a complete interior space distinct from other spaces within the same building with regards to at least one of the following characteristics: ownership, management, lease, or party wall separation.”

The glossary gives the definition of ‘complete interior space’ as “At a minimum, all the gross floor area within the exterior walls of a building that is within a single occupant’s control and contains all building components altered as part of the same construction scope.” In addition to those attributes listed above, floors can be used to distinguish a complete interior space, if one floor is unaffected by construction work. This is illustrated below.

This is a section drawing of a three story office building, all under the same ownership and management.





Scenario 1: Only the third floor is undergoing construction (shaded), so it can be considered a complete interior space by itself, and the LEED project boundary will be limited to that floor.

Scenario 2: Both the second and third floors are undergoing construction, so one floor by itself cannot be considered a complete interior space. They both must be included within the LEED project boundary.


There are many situations in which a single entity owns, manages, and/or occupies an entire building, and wishes to certify a renovated portion of the building that is not separate from other portions by one of the attributes listed above. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:

Part of one floor Multiple, non-contiguous parts of one floor Multiple certifying floors separated by non-certifying floors

For example, multiple unconnected office spaces within a warehouse may be renovated, but not the main warehouse floor area. In the section drawing of an academic science building below, only the labs (shaded) on the first and third floors are undergoing an alteration:

Such spaces are not automatically disqualified from attempting to certify under LEED-CI. Project teams with this situation must submit a narrative in PIf1 in LEED Online v3 confirming that the conditions below are met.

a)    It is unreasonable or impossible to draw a project boundary where there is separation by ownership, management, lease, or party wall separation. This often happens when the edge of the construction work does not coincide with such a boundary.

b)    The construction work is being conducted under a single contract.

c)    The project boundary includes 100% of the construction scope (it may extend beyond the construction scope. However, at least 60% of the total certifying gross floor area must be undergoing alteration).

d)    The LEED project boundary is drawn at a clear, functional, AND physical barrier.

e)    Signage will be provided to clearly demarcate the LEED space.

f)    The LEED project boundary is not drawn in such a way as to create an unreasonably

difficult review process that results from the reviewer’s inability to distinguish between strategies, services, or materials in the LEED certifying space and the non- LEED certifying space. For example, it would be best if the LEED project boundary coincided with an HVAC zone boundary.


Ensuring compliance with the ‘entirety’ requirement

For whole building rating systems (all but LEED-CI), this MPR states: “LEED projects must include the new, ground-up design and construction, or major renovation, of at least one commercial, institutional, or high-rise residential building in its entirety.”

In the glossary, relevant definitions include:

  • Entirety
  • Physically distinct
  • Party wall
  • Major renovation

Relevant additional guidance includes:

  • The attached buildings guidance above, which defines exceptions for horizontally and vertically connected buildings.

The “already existing land” requirement is applicable to the entire LEED project

This MPR requires that “All LEED projects must be designed for, constructed on, and operated on a permanent location on already existing land.” This requirement is applicable to all land within the LEED project boundary. See additional guidance for artificial land masses on page 18 of this document.

How to treat parking garages

Parking garages may not earn LEED certification A revised May 9, 2011 LEED Interpretation states “Parking garages for cars and trucks may not pursue LEED certification. More specifically, buildings that dedicate more than 75% of floor area all square footage, to the storage and circulation of cars and/or trucks are ineligible for LEED. Square footage should be considered even if it is not covered, enclosed, or conditioned. This LEED Interpretation does NOT apply to vehicle maintenance shops of any kind, airport hangers, border facilities, car salesrooms, transit centers, or other buildings that deal with cars and trucks in a capacity other than parking, OR with vehicles other than cars and trucks.”

Parking garages may not be included in the gross floor area of the LEED project building The definition of gross floor area in the glossary specifically disallows the inclusion of parking.

Parking garages may be included within the LEED project boundary If parking is within, connected to, or on the site of the LEED project building, it may be (and sometimes, must be) included within the LEED project boundary. The MPR #3 section gives more guidance on this issue.

Modular buildings elements are allowed

Prefabricated or modular structures and building elements of any variation may be certified once permanently installed and/or established as part of the LEED project building in the location that they are intended to stay for the life of the entire structure.

Buildings with movable parts are allowed

Large movable parts, such as a retracting ceiling in a stadium, do not violate this MPR.

Movable buildings are prohibited

Structures not compliant with this MPR include cars, motor homes, trains, boats, ships, planes, and transient exhibits of any kind.

If for any reason a LEED 2009 certified building is moved from the location cited at the time of LEED certification, it will no longer be in compliance with this MPR and the certification will become invalid.

Special considerations for commercial interiors projects


Buildings in which commercial interior projects are located, must be immobile and are subject to the same guidance on the subject of permanency as projects that are certifying under whole building rating systems.


Buildings in which commercial interiors projects are located are NOT required to be built on already existing land.

Planned obsolescence

While USGBC does not encourage planned obsolescence, the amount of time that a building or space is intended to remain standing does not affect compliance with this MPR. The purpose is to disallow a project to certify that is intended to be mobile over the course of its lifetime.

Multi-party ownership

Multiple-party ownership of a certifying building or space is acceptable. Proper accountability for MPR and rating system conformance must be in place.

No exceptions for projects with IEQp2 conflicts

Some project buildings, such as casinos, typically have difficulty achieving LEED certification due to a smoking policy that conflicts with Indoor Environmental Quality prerequisite 2, Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control (IEQp2). There will be no exceptions to this MPR to allow for partial building certification of such buildings. Project teams are encouraged to carefully review Option 2 in IEQp2 to explore opportunities to achieve LEED certification despite a smoking room located within a project.

Multiple buildings

This MPR states that “LEED projects must include the new, ground-up design and construction, or major renovation, of at least one....building in its entirety”, thus, a LEED project may only include ONE building unless the project qualifies for a multiple-building submission through the 2010 Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (AGMBC). Part 2 of the 2010 AGMBC (due to be released by the end of 2011), which will contain additional guidance to help project teams certify a group of buildings as a package where the entire building set will receive a single rating, can be located at usgbc.org/campusguidance.

Defining ‘one building’

Super-structures can often be perceived as either a string of multiple buildings, or as a single building. This is typically due to light physical connections, such as a single hallway between buildings that are otherwise physically distinct. Such super-structures may, for the purposes of LEED, be considered a single building if both of the following criteria are met.

a)    Space that can be included in the gross floor area of the project that serves a purpose other than parking or the circulation of people is contiguous throughout the structure.

b)    All building components of the LEED project that are addressed by LEED prerequisites and pursued credits (systems, materials, etc) can be treated as one, such that separate reviews of the same issues are not required for different portions of the super- structure.

If these criteria are not met, the project may be considered a set of multiple buildings, regardless of whether or not it can satisfy the ‘attached building’ criteria on pages 13-16. The AGMBC gives direction on the certification process for such projects.

LEED for Core & Shell projects and ‘entirety’

For a project certifying under LEED-CS, the project is considered a ‘building in its entirety’ without interior fit-outs being complete.

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