New LEED Pilot Credit: Prevention through design | U.S. Green Building Council
Please upgrade your browser. This site requires a newer version to work correctly. Read more
Published on
Written by
Posted in Industry
Published on
Written by
Posted in Industry

USGBC recently released a new pilot credit aimed at encouraging Prevention through Design (PtD) practices. The pilot credit was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the U.S. federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness, as part of an effort to explore the nexus between occupational safety and health and sustainable building practices.  

Prevention Through Design, a one-point LEED pilot credit, is available in the LEED credit library for the following LEED v4 and LEED 2009 BD+C project types:

  • New Construction
  • Core & Shell
  • Schools
  • Retail
  • Data centers
  • Warehouses & distribution centers
  • Hospitality
  • Healthcare

The intent of the pilot credit is to support high-performance cost-effective employee safety and health outcomes across the building life-cycle through early attention to safety and health hazards. The LEED pilot credit library functions as a test kitchen for new idea where project teams see, try out and comment on potential requirements/credits. USGBC collects, organizes and integrates project team feedback to evolve and refine pilot credits during their testing period, with a goal of adding successful credits to the USGBC member balloted LEED rating system.  

PtD is an approach based on research and practice demonstrating that upstream design and planning decisions can influence and improve safety for construction workers and end users across the life cycle of a building or structure. While this is an emerging best practice in the U.S., it’s required by law in the European Union (EU) and in Australia.

This concept fits well within existing integrated project planning and life-cycle consideration approaches already built into LEED. Currently, the rating systems directly and indirectly addresses health and well-being outcomes for building occupants, construction workers (through Indoor Air Quality Management) and custodial workers (through green cleaning). Incorporating PtD expands this scope to foster social equity by addressing safety in addition to health, and by addressing two building life cycle phases important for safety and health—operations and maintenance and design and construction. Workers performing these tasks face disproportionate hazards and exposures which can be prevented or reduced using design interventions. 

The Prevention Through Design pilot credit is structured to complement and reinforce the existing LEED Integrative Process credit. It can be performed by expanding an existing integrative process effort to examine safety and health, or it can be performed independent of that credit. As with the Integrative Process credit, it involves a discovery step to evaluate opportunities and then an implementation step to follow-up on appropriate solutions.

In the operations and maintenance phase, the focus is on permanent building features—both conventional and LEED-related. The pilot credit describes and promotes a cross-disciplinary “safety design review” to perform discovery and implementation and provides a list of systems to consider such as roofs and equipment rooms. Examples of safety design review outcomes include decisions to reduce fall hazards by installing a parapet or guard rail on a roof or by specifying non-fragile skylights.

In building design and construction, the focus is on the construction process—both conventional and LEED-related topics. The pilot credit describes a cross-disciplinary “safety constructability review” to perform discovery and implementation and provides a list of topics to consider such as building re-use and work at height to guide the review. Examples of safety constructability review outcomes could include a decision to use steel columns that arrive on site with pre-drilled holes for fall protection anchors; and lines to facilitate temporary fall protection for construction workers; or a decision to pre-fabricate components at ground-level to minimize falls from working at height.

USGBC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have collaborated for a new course intended to increase awareness of occupational safety and health in the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. 

Life Cycle Safety: Basics and Connections to Sustainability

This course, made up of a 20-minute webinar and two articles, introduces the concept of Prevention through Design and the related LEED pilot credit on occupational safety and health. Learning objectives include:

  • Define the concepts of “Life Cycle Safety” and “Prevention through Design” (PtD)
  • Understand the links between occupational safety and health, social equity, and sustainable development
  • Identify construction and maintenance safety and health hazards
  • List resources for addressing safety in design of green buildings 

Register for the course

USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
iOS App on App StoreAndroid app on Google Play