LEED Version 4 Invites Food Service to the Party-Don’t Ignore the Invitation

By Suzanne Painter-Supplee, LEED AP+ID&C

While LEED V4 kicked off more than two years ago, October 31, 2016 is the LAST DAY a project can be registered under V3.  Although there are several hundred projects registered under V4, project managers have been slower to embrace it.

http://www.usgbc.org/leed-v4  –Highlighted tracks include Foodservice!


In earlier versions of LEED, Division 11 where food equipment resides, materials used in foodservice operations were specifically excluded in New Construction (BD&C), and “Optional” in Commercial Interiors (ID&C.)  Process water and energy weren’t included unless the Exceptional Calculation Method was used, meaning energy/water needed to be modeled.

But it made sense when commercial kitchen equipment will use more than 25% of water & energy to be used in the project. (Default for process is 25%, so other calculations are based on the remaining 75 %.)

Although commercial kitchens use more energy per square foot than any other, it was largely ignored in these categories, with the exception of healthcare, schools & retail.  Interiors has had an Energy Star™ credit, EAc1.4, since V2, but it isn’t foodservice-specific.  It is also worth fewer credits than in V2009.  Keep in mind that Energy Star™ standards for water-using appliances also have a water baseline standard.

LEED for Schools, in the Building Design & Construction category (BD&C) always included process water specific food equipment in credit WEc4 in both versions 2 & 3.  The project had to have four different appliance types at or below baseline to get the credit.  Disposers were prohibited, but NOT Under V4.  Disposers, just like the rest of the appliances, have a baseline standard:  gallons per minute and automatic shut off.  So thanks, Healthcare, because schools married to their disposers don’t have to give them up to earn a credit.


In this view, ice maker-dispensers, hand sinks and coffee brewer count, and a case can possibly be made for materials if the counters use sustainable materials and are handled correctly when submitted.

LEED for Healthcare, the most progressive towards foodservice of them all, which began with Version 3, included several process water credits specific to dietary, and here is where disposers were allowed, and other waste equipment recognized with baselines.  It was also where Integrative Process entered V3 as a prerequisite and credit in V3, being the only track that did. (More about both later.)

Foodservice now plays an important role in LEED Projects-Ignore no More.  And, it’s not just Energy Star™.

Going forward, what’s a foodservice consultant, design dealer or manufacturer’s role, and how can we make a difference?  Do we finally get a seat at the charrette table?  What if you have a slew of unfinished V3/2009 projects?   Are they eligible to pursue any of the new foodservice-friendly credits?  YES & No.  http://www.usgbc.org/articles/use-v4-credits-your-v2009-project

Some project managers have adjusted project boundaries to exclude foodservice -some really blatantly, such as excluding the floor it was on in ID&C projects & skirting the cafeteria building in BD&C!  LEED specifically calls out ‘reasonable boundaries’ and in conversation with LEED project reviewers, it’s believed to be stretching the rules, but hard to catch. But as of LEED V4, no more ignoring or hiding from foodservice’s important & growing role that now actually COUNTS both ways.

IMPORTANT-sometimes projects reuse (existing/relocate) commercial kitchen equipment, such as when a school or hospital is remodeled or replaced and working appliances can be reused.  What you reuse does NOT count against the project if there are Energy Star™ standards for that product because it ONLY matters what you BUY.  NOT what you USE.

With the advent of V4, which already has certified projects and others in progress, it is a level playing field among LEED consultants more familiar with earlier versions in their practices.  Yet they are being hired today.  Some are still unaware that “process” water and energy counts to varying degrees in prerequisites in all LEED tracks, and credits (more appliance types recognized) in most.  So why not bring your foodservice consultant to the party EARLY enough to make a difference and take advantage of these opportunities, or at the very least, for those foodservice consultants less experienced with LEED, to get the team’s input with equipment choices which accomplish what the owner needs while not costing a credit.  For Energy Star™ information, go HERE.  https://www.energystar.gov/products/commercial_food_service_equipment

While not shown here, coffee brewers have a standard in late development, and fryers will have a new version.

Ice Makers Recognized in Same Category (Regulated) as Pre-Rinse Sprays, Hand Sinks, and all Tracks

Notable as well, while pre-rinse sprays and kitchen faucets (hand sinks, NOT fill faucets) were always counted as regulated, ice machines have made it over to the prerequisite side in all LEED tracks.  Because ice makers are used elsewhere in buildings and not always for foodservice, such as breakrooms, hotel room/floor ice makers, hospital floors, athletic departments, etc., it makes sense because they are on all the time.

Flow control on fill faucets only serve to slow down the fill and don’t save water and were always SPECIFICALLY excluded.  Timed flow hand sinks (sensor turns on and shuts off based on a timer) are now prohibited because they don’t save water.

Hospitals look to Dietary as a major Water-Saving Opportunity

water-efficiency-logoLEED for Healthcare raised awareness in both water-usage and waste-water usage categories.  Baselines for all types of commercial dishwashers as well as waste equipment (pulpers, disposers, collectors) were set.  Sub-metering water for dietary and awarding a credit for it was brilliant because hospitals look to dietary as a major opportunity to save water, since health and safety prevent other measures usable in most other building types. While not specifically addressed until EBO&M, food waste remains a top waste stream in volume in healthcare, second only to medical waste, and even then, not always.

Enter LEED for Retail & Hospitality Tracks

Effective Version 3 (2009) in both ID&C and BD&C, LEED for Retail & Hospitality also included food service equipment standards, and it was from here that LEED V4 was able to expand.  More appliance standards were listed, existing ones tightened, more awareness raised how much it can count, including its effect on regulated loads.


Energy Star™ compliance isn’t all of it as only 9 categories are covered there.  (Coffee Equipment is new.) Many products where there isn’t an Energy Star™ standard still have baseline & prescriptive standards for LEED.   The Foodservice Technology Center (FSTC) in San Ramon, California, Richard Young in particular, played a huge role in developing LEED for Retail, and educated the USGBC and others about food equipment’s role.  That information is consolidated in Appendix 3. Fisher Nickel is HERE: http://www.fishnick.com/


While V4 has more consistent categories, credits are NAMED, not numbered, and requirements can vary slightly among tracks but the intent is crystal clear. But equipment standards are the same for all tracks, whereas in previous versions, Schools, Interiors & Healthcare each had different standards.   Here’s where you can get baseline information for commercial kitchen appliances:  http://www.usgbc.org/node/4335155?return=/credits/retail—commercial-interiors/v4\

While Energy Star is called out in LEED credits, appliances without Energy Star standards can still have baselines.  If it is on this list, it counts.

For More about Water Efficiency:


For More about Energy Efficiency:


What is Integrative Process?


Integrative process was introduced in LEED for Healthcare, 2009 and is a prerequisite and a credit.  It remains so today, for Healthcare, both prerequisite and credit, and is now a credit in all other tracks of LEED V4. The foodservice consultant is a named player.

The intent of Integrative Process is to get all team members charged with specifying major systems together as early as possible in the project.

Details regarding Integrative Process is are shown HERE.



Next Steps

To learn more about LEED V4 and Foodservice Impact review these resources:

Finally, Credit Interpretation Rulings, or CIR’s.  http://www.usgbc.org/leed-interpretations   you’d be amazed at how many foodservice-specific interpretations are listed.  In fact, Harvard University’s LEED CI project, Dunster-Mather, used a CIR in 2006 to get credit for a pulper on their project, long before pulpers had a LEED standard.

So become a foodservice-friendly LEED-er. You’ll be glad you invested the time.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: