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LEED v4
Data Centers – NC
Innovation

Innovation

LEED CREDIT

Data-Centers-NC-v4 INc1: Innovation 1-5 points

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View the LEED v4.1 version of this credit »

SPECIAL REPORT

LEEDuser expert

Eric Corey Freed

RA, LEED Fellow, Living Future Accredited, EcoDistricts AP

CannonDesign
Senior Vice President, Sustainability

SPECIAL REPORT

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Credit language

USGBC logo

© Copyright U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. All rights reserved.

Requirements

To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.

Option 1. innovation (1 point)

Achieve significant, measurable environmental performance using a strategy not addressed in the LEED green building rating system.

Identify the following:

  • the intent of the proposed innovation credit;
  • proposed requirements for compliance;
  • proposed submittals to demonstrate compliance; and
  • the design approach or strategies used to meet the requirements.

AND/OR

Option 2. pilot (1 point)

Achieve one pilot credit from USGBC’s LEED Pilot Credit Library

AND/OR

Option 3. additional strategies (3 points)
  • Innovation (1-3 points)
    Defined in Option 1 above.
  • Pilot (1-3 points)
    Meet the requirements of Option 2.
  • Exemplary performance (1–2 points)
    Achieve exemplary performance in an existing LEED v4 prerequisite or credit that allows exemplary performance, as specified in the LEED Reference Guide, v4 edition. An exemplary performance point is typically earned for achieving double the credit requirements or the next incremental percentage threshold.
See all forum discussions about this credit »

What does it cost?

Cost estimates for this credit

On each BD+C v4 credit, LEEDuser offers the wisdom of a team of architects, engineers, cost estimators, and LEED experts with hundreds of LEED projects between then. They analyzed the sustainable design strategies associated with each LEED credit, but also to assign actual costs to those strategies.

Our tab contains overall cost guidance, notes on what “soft costs” to expect, and a strategy-by-strategy breakdown of what to consider and what it might cost, in percentage premiums, actual costs, or both.

This information is also available in a full PDF download in The Cost of LEED v4 report.

Learn more about The Cost of LEED v4 »

Frequently asked questions

How do I meet the requirements for the “Community outreach and involvement” innovation option?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

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What happened to all of the operational policies and plans that we could pursue for Innovation credit under LEED v2009 (i.e., green cleaning policy / sustainable purchasing policy / solid waste management policy / integrated pest management, erosion control, and landscape management plan / building exterior and hardscape management plan)?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

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Is there a list of Innovation strategies available to v4 projects?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

We achieved exemplary performance for more than two credits. Can we claim more than two points?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

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One of the credits we used for exemplary performance didn’t actually end up earning exemplary performance. Can we replace it with a different credit that did?

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We didn’t claim one of our credits as an exemplary performance point under INc1 during the design review, but now we’d like to because it earned exemplary performance per the review comments. Is it possible to claim it now?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

I’m confused about how many points I can earn for each strategy (innovation vs pilot credit vs exemplary performance). Is there a limit on each type of strategy if we want to earn all five Innovation points?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

See all forum discussions about this credit »

Addenda

7/8/2017Updated: 11/6/2020
Form Update
Description of change:
Revise the text of the first sentence under "Requirements" to the following:

"To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.”
Campus Applicable
Yes
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/8/2017Updated: 11/6/2020
Rating System Correction
Description of change:
Revise the text of the first sentence under "Requirements" to the following:

"To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.”
Campus Applicable
Yes
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/8/2017Updated: 1/8/2020
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Revise all references to the online "Innovation database" to say "Innovation Catalog."
Campus Applicable
Yes
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2014Updated: 2/14/2015
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Revise the text below Step 2. to the following:
"Projects may earn up to 5 points through combination of the following:
• Innovation (up to 4 points). This option is appropriate for strategies that are not addressed by any existing credits in the LEED rating system under which the project will be certified.
• Pilot credits (up to 4 points). This option requires project teams to achieve, document, and provide feedback on pilot credit strategies developed by USGBC members and committees.
Exemplary performance (up to 2 points). This option is achieved by demonstrating performance that greatly exceeds the level or scope required by existing LEED prerequisites or credits.
o One point is reserved for Pilot Credits and one for Innovation. To use all five points, projects must use at least one pilot credit and one innovation credit"
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2014Updated: 2/14/2015
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Delete: "Corporate strategies are not considered innovative."
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/1/2016
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project is connected to a district energy system which provides both heating and cooling for the building; no additional building-level cooling systems are installed. The district system draws heavily on deep lake cooling with a complement of refrigerant-based cooling. We also have walk-in refrigerators on the premises. We are not permitted to count the deep lake cooling with a refrigerant factor of zero, so because the walk-in refrigerators use refrigerants with a high impact (according to the LEED calculation), we exceed the impact limit of 100 for the credit even though the project?s cooling capacity is largely provided by refrigerant-free sources.
We propose a calculation methodology that demonstrates a design case reduction of the total refrigerant impact as compared to the baseline case:
• The baseline case is calculated by factoring the total cooling capacity of the building?s baseline case and a refrigerant impact of 100 per ton. The demand (during the simulated year) is 1496 kW for the baseline case and 1704 (483,9 tons) installed capacity, as per the EAp2 form and the EA Section 1.4 Tables respectively.
o total design case cooling capacity = 483.9 tons
o total refrigerant impact = 483.9 x 100 = 48390

• The design case factors the labeled capacity on the district energy system?s heat exchanger (district cooling exchanger) and the walk-in refrigerator equipment, and their respective refrigerants.
o total design case cooling capacity = 393.7 tons
o total refrigerant impact = 393.7 x 86 = 33798

• Total reduction in cooling demand = 393.7 / 483.9 = 81.36 (18.64% reduction)
• Total reduction in refrigerant impact = 33798 / 48390 = 69.85 (30.15% reduction)

The calculation confirms that the refrigerant impact reduction is in excess of that associated with the reduced cooling capacity. We would like this to be an ACP.

Ruling:

The applicant proposes an alternate approach to the enhanced refrigerant impact credit which allows credit for the portion of cooling that is provided by systems that contain no refrigerants.

It is acceptable for the applicant to document that the refrigerant impact for the project (including downstream and upstream systems) is less than a refrigerant impact allowance calculated based on the Baseline cooling capacity* from the EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance Baseline energy model. However, the allowance calculated based on the cooling capacity shall be limited to 75 per ton (versus 100 per ton allowed using the compliance path defined in the Rating System Language for Proposed equipment).

To calculate the Baseline case allowance, multiply the total Baseline cooling capacity from the EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance model by a refrigerant impact of 75 per ton (in this case 483.9 x 75 = 36,292).

To calculate the Proposed case refrigerant impact, complete the EAc4: Refrigerant Impact form for the proposed systems (including upstream and on-site equipment). [Note: for upstream equipment, enter the capacity of the upstream equipment by multiplying the equipment capacity by the proportion of building loads to total district energy cooling loads. For example, if the building loads represent 10% of the district energy cooling loads, multiply the capacity of each piece of upstream equipment by 10%].

If the total refrigerant impact for the proposed design (including upstream systems) is less than the Baseline refrigerant impact allowance identified above, the project shall be deemed to comply with this alternative compliance path.

If using this path, please ensure that energy simulation output files showing both the Baseline cooling and refrigeration capacities AND the Baseline cooling and refrigeration peak operating capacities are uploaded either in EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance or in this credit.

* For the purposes of this Alternative Refrigerant Impact calculation, all uncooled spaces must be excluded from the total Baseline cooling capacity reported unless the documentation demonstrates how passive cooling has been achieved for these spaces.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/5/2018
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

If a project pursues a pilot alternative compliance path (ACP), can it be exempted from the following pilot credit requirement for the Innovation credit?

“To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.”

Ruling:

If projects achieve a pilot ACP, they are exempted from the requirement to achieve at least one pilot credit. To achieve all five points in the Innovation credit under this approach, projects may select one of the following point combinations:
• 4 innovation and 1 exemplary performance
• 3 innovation and 2 exemplary performance

***Updated 7.10.2020 to clarify that projects must achieve a pilot ACP to be exempted***

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
See all forum discussions about this credit »

Documentation toolkit

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LEEDuser’s Documentation Toolkit is loaded with calculators to help assess credit compliance, tracking spreadsheets for materials, sample templates to help guide your narratives and LEED Online submissions, and examples of actual submissions from certified LEED projects for you to check your work against. To get your plaque, start with the right toolkit.

LEEDuser expert

Eric Corey Freed

RA, LEED Fellow, Living Future Accredited, EcoDistricts AP

CannonDesign
Senior Vice President, Sustainability

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Our editors have written a detailed analysis of nearly every LEED credit, and LEEDuser premium members get full access. We’ll tell you whether the credit is easy to accomplish or better left alone, and we provide insider tips on how to document it successfully.

USGBC logo

© Copyright U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. All rights reserved.

Requirements

To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.

Option 1. innovation (1 point)

Achieve significant, measurable environmental performance using a strategy not addressed in the LEED green building rating system.

Identify the following:

  • the intent of the proposed innovation credit;
  • proposed requirements for compliance;
  • proposed submittals to demonstrate compliance; and
  • the design approach or strategies used to meet the requirements.

AND/OR

Option 2. pilot (1 point)

Achieve one pilot credit from USGBC’s LEED Pilot Credit Library

AND/OR

Option 3. additional strategies (3 points)
  • Innovation (1-3 points)
    Defined in Option 1 above.
  • Pilot (1-3 points)
    Meet the requirements of Option 2.
  • Exemplary performance (1–2 points)
    Achieve exemplary performance in an existing LEED v4 prerequisite or credit that allows exemplary performance, as specified in the LEED Reference Guide, v4 edition. An exemplary performance point is typically earned for achieving double the credit requirements or the next incremental percentage threshold.

In the end, LEED is all about documentation. LEEDuser’s Documentation Toolkit, for premium members only, saves you time and helps you avoid mistakes with:

  • Calculators to help assess credit compliance.
  • Tracking spreadsheets for materials purchases.
  • Spreadsheets and forms to give to subs and other team members.
  • Guidance documents on arcane LEED issues.
  • Sample templates to help guide your narratives and LEED Online submissions.
  • Examples of actual submissions from certified LEED projects.

How do I meet the requirements for the “Community outreach and involvement” innovation option?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

What happened to all of the operational policies and plans that we could pursue for Innovation credit under LEED v2009 (i.e., green cleaning policy / sustainable purchasing policy / solid waste management policy / integrated pest management, erosion control, and landscape management plan / building exterior and hardscape management plan)?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

Is there a list of Innovation strategies available to v4 projects?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

We achieved exemplary performance for more than two credits. Can we claim more than two points?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

One of the credits we used for exemplary performance didn’t actually end up earning exemplary performance. Can we replace it with a different credit that did?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

We didn’t claim one of our credits as an exemplary performance point under INc1 during the design review, but now we’d like to because it earned exemplary performance per the review comments. Is it possible to claim it now?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

I’m confused about how many points I can earn for each strategy (innovation vs pilot credit vs exemplary performance). Is there a limit on each type of strategy if we want to earn all five Innovation points?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

7/8/2017Updated: 11/6/2020
Form Update
Description of change:
Revise the text of the first sentence under "Requirements" to the following:

"To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.”
Campus Applicable
Yes
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/8/2017Updated: 11/6/2020
Rating System Correction
Description of change:
Revise the text of the first sentence under "Requirements" to the following:

"To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.”
Campus Applicable
Yes
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/8/2017Updated: 1/8/2020
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Revise all references to the online "Innovation database" to say "Innovation Catalog."
Campus Applicable
Yes
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2014Updated: 2/14/2015
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Revise the text below Step 2. to the following:
"Projects may earn up to 5 points through combination of the following:
• Innovation (up to 4 points). This option is appropriate for strategies that are not addressed by any existing credits in the LEED rating system under which the project will be certified.
• Pilot credits (up to 4 points). This option requires project teams to achieve, document, and provide feedback on pilot credit strategies developed by USGBC members and committees.
Exemplary performance (up to 2 points). This option is achieved by demonstrating performance that greatly exceeds the level or scope required by existing LEED prerequisites or credits.
o One point is reserved for Pilot Credits and one for Innovation. To use all five points, projects must use at least one pilot credit and one innovation credit"
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2014Updated: 2/14/2015
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Delete: "Corporate strategies are not considered innovative."
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/1/2016
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project is connected to a district energy system which provides both heating and cooling for the building; no additional building-level cooling systems are installed. The district system draws heavily on deep lake cooling with a complement of refrigerant-based cooling. We also have walk-in refrigerators on the premises. We are not permitted to count the deep lake cooling with a refrigerant factor of zero, so because the walk-in refrigerators use refrigerants with a high impact (according to the LEED calculation), we exceed the impact limit of 100 for the credit even though the project?s cooling capacity is largely provided by refrigerant-free sources.
We propose a calculation methodology that demonstrates a design case reduction of the total refrigerant impact as compared to the baseline case:
• The baseline case is calculated by factoring the total cooling capacity of the building?s baseline case and a refrigerant impact of 100 per ton. The demand (during the simulated year) is 1496 kW for the baseline case and 1704 (483,9 tons) installed capacity, as per the EAp2 form and the EA Section 1.4 Tables respectively.
o total design case cooling capacity = 483.9 tons
o total refrigerant impact = 483.9 x 100 = 48390

• The design case factors the labeled capacity on the district energy system?s heat exchanger (district cooling exchanger) and the walk-in refrigerator equipment, and their respective refrigerants.
o total design case cooling capacity = 393.7 tons
o total refrigerant impact = 393.7 x 86 = 33798

• Total reduction in cooling demand = 393.7 / 483.9 = 81.36 (18.64% reduction)
• Total reduction in refrigerant impact = 33798 / 48390 = 69.85 (30.15% reduction)

The calculation confirms that the refrigerant impact reduction is in excess of that associated with the reduced cooling capacity. We would like this to be an ACP.

Ruling:

The applicant proposes an alternate approach to the enhanced refrigerant impact credit which allows credit for the portion of cooling that is provided by systems that contain no refrigerants.

It is acceptable for the applicant to document that the refrigerant impact for the project (including downstream and upstream systems) is less than a refrigerant impact allowance calculated based on the Baseline cooling capacity* from the EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance Baseline energy model. However, the allowance calculated based on the cooling capacity shall be limited to 75 per ton (versus 100 per ton allowed using the compliance path defined in the Rating System Language for Proposed equipment).

To calculate the Baseline case allowance, multiply the total Baseline cooling capacity from the EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance model by a refrigerant impact of 75 per ton (in this case 483.9 x 75 = 36,292).

To calculate the Proposed case refrigerant impact, complete the EAc4: Refrigerant Impact form for the proposed systems (including upstream and on-site equipment). [Note: for upstream equipment, enter the capacity of the upstream equipment by multiplying the equipment capacity by the proportion of building loads to total district energy cooling loads. For example, if the building loads represent 10% of the district energy cooling loads, multiply the capacity of each piece of upstream equipment by 10%].

If the total refrigerant impact for the proposed design (including upstream systems) is less than the Baseline refrigerant impact allowance identified above, the project shall be deemed to comply with this alternative compliance path.

If using this path, please ensure that energy simulation output files showing both the Baseline cooling and refrigeration capacities AND the Baseline cooling and refrigeration peak operating capacities are uploaded either in EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance or in this credit.

* For the purposes of this Alternative Refrigerant Impact calculation, all uncooled spaces must be excluded from the total Baseline cooling capacity reported unless the documentation demonstrates how passive cooling has been achieved for these spaces.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/5/2018
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

If a project pursues a pilot alternative compliance path (ACP), can it be exempted from the following pilot credit requirement for the Innovation credit?

“To achieve all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit and no more than two exemplary performance credits.”

Ruling:

If projects achieve a pilot ACP, they are exempted from the requirement to achieve at least one pilot credit. To achieve all five points in the Innovation credit under this approach, projects may select one of the following point combinations:
• 4 innovation and 1 exemplary performance
• 3 innovation and 2 exemplary performance

***Updated 7.10.2020 to clarify that projects must achieve a pilot ACP to be exempted***

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes

LEEDuser expert

Eric Corey Freed

RA, LEED Fellow, Living Future Accredited, EcoDistricts AP

CannonDesign
Senior Vice President, Sustainability

See all LEEDuser forum discussions about this credit » Subscribe to new discussions about Data-Centers-NC-v4 INc1 View the LEED v4.1 version of this credit