Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Bid a LEED Project (and Win)

When preparing to bid a LEED project, there are a few things contractors can do to improve their proposals. Knowing how to bid LEED projects has become more important in the current economic climate, and contractors who differentiate themselves as LEED specialists are likely to come out of the recession ahead.

At the 2010 GreenerBuilder Conference put on by the USGBC Northern California Chapter on June 10th, Bay Area general contractors offered advice to subs on best practices in bidding LEED projects. The following is a summary of the advice given by Grant French of Swinerton Builders, as well as by representatives from GCI General Contractors and XL Construction. It was primarily from Grant French's presentation that I generated this list of best practices for bidding (and winning) LEED projects.
  1. Familiarize yourself with green products in the marketplace. Providing practical advice to general contractors is an important skill for subs on LEED projects. If you have worked with a green product and know how it performed--or did not perform--this information can give you a definite edge in the bidding process. Familiarity with new products and technologies that can contribute toward LEED certification gives you an advantage over bidders with less LEED experience.
  2. Price your bid accurately. Many of the GC's at GreenerBuilder insisted that most LEED projects do not cost more than non-LEED projects. So, if you are bidding a LEED project, do NOT add an additional line item for a "LEED premium." The extra cost is not necessary; and in the end, your bid will not be competitive.
  3. Take the LEED Green Associate exam. The Green Associate accreditation (administered through GBCI) provides just about everything a contractor needs to know to work on LEED projects. Contractors with a Green Associate accreditation will stand out over those without it.
  4. Review Division 1 requirements for LEED. Read through Division 1 in addition to your scope section when preparing your bid. Many LEED requirements are found in the General Requirements portion of the spec book and are not always broken out into individual spec sections. To make sure you have everything covered, check both areas.
  5. Break out material costs individually. Many of the Materials and Resources credits for LEED are calculated using material cost. Therefore, from the beginning of the process, separate out the cost of materials in the project. This practice allows general contractors to get an estimate of how many points they are likely to earn for these credits.
Please feel free to add to this list in the comments below, contributing your experience bidding LEED projects.