The ASPEN design tool: a LEED credit design and cost minimization program




Spencer, Michael R.

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This study presents a unique communication tool, the ASPEN Design Tool, which intends to enrich communication between the architect and the investing building stakeholder when pursuing a LEED certification. The tool relies on multidisciplinary approaches to align the design goals of the LEED building program with their economic impact.

First, the research leading to the development of the ASPEN Design Tool, and its intended communicative purpose, is examined. The interest and methods of each green building stakeholder is considered as it relates to the challenge presented by socially complex negotiations in the building delivery process. Specifically, the role and liability of the architect in pursuit of a LEED certification is defined. Recent legal cases of green building are reviewed to extract the fundamental risk mitigation in LEED certification and design performance risk. These cases emphasize how the ASPEN Design Tool may contribute to the preventive strategies of expectation management and cost transparency. In addition, the programmatic methods of pre-design are extracted from the PDRI-basis of design to inform the organization of the tool's use.

Second, the financial methodologies of the investing stakeholder are incorporated into the ASPEN Design Tool to identify the economic impact of design options. A cost minimization program is developed, unique to the LEED rating system and its certification constraints, using linear programming techniques to create a LEED credit optimization objective. As a result, the design tool will report an optimized selection of LEED credits based on a desired certification rating. The program's adaptable use and reporting techniques are illustrated using two case studies on the cost of LEED design.

This research concludes with a discussion of the challenge in communicating design options and their incremental influence on obtaining a LEED certification. The design tool intends to serve as a one-of-a-kind program that explores the relationships between complicated design goals and economic objectives, with informed data sets.


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cost, design, LEED, linear programming, risk, sustainability