Construction Documents and Specifications

The construction documents dictate what the contractor is expected to include in the project, so it is essential that the green items are included in the specifications. The draft specifications should be reviewed to check consistency with the selected performance criteria or rating system. Effective specifications provide detail clarification regarding the green aspects—percentage of recycled content material, flow rate per minute, maximum levels of VOCs—to avoid substitutions during construction of materials that are similar but that lack the green qualities. Other items, such as construction waste recycling and construction air quality management, need to be included in the general section of contractor requirements.

For the items that the owner would like to specify but which have not been included in the plan because of cost concerns, a useful approach is to specify a limited number (7-10) of "add alternates." Both a conventional and an alternate green product are specified, and the contractor obtains costs for both. The owner then has the option of making a choice at the time the product needs to be purchased rather than when the drawings are completed. This approach works best for finish materials that are purchased and installed near the end of the project.

The person responsible for the green items should stay engaged during the construction process to provide clarification on what certain materials are and where to source products, and to assist the contractor with verification or documentation of credits earned in a rating program.

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