News & Stories

Reality Check for LEED v4 Product Credits

Among the biggest changes that LEEDv4 brought to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating System were three new credits in the Materials & Resources category. These credits cover building product disclosure and optimization, or BPDO: Environmental product Declarations (EPDs), Raw Material Extraction, and Material Ingredients. Each o these three credits introduced reporting formats that were either entirely new - like Health Product Declarations (HPDs) - or just unfamiliar to the North American market, such as EPDs. 

Some of these new reporting formats have ganed quick traction, and the points that depend on them are already easy to achieve for most projects. Others are still elusive, with their points effectively out of reach. 

The Easy Points

Thanks to the market demand created by LEED, and several supporting campaigns, EPDs, HPDs, and other ingredient disclosure documents are now widely available and are becoming more so all the time. LEED users still have to check to ensure that any EPDs or HPDs they are collecting for documentation meet LEED requirements, as many do not. But for all but the smallest projects, finding at least 20 products with EPDs and 20 with HPDs isn't hard. It might evenbe possible to double that number and earn an exemplary performance innovation point. 

Making things even easier, USGBC has been steadily adding to the list of reporting formats that can be used for the disclosure option within Material Ingredients. When the system first came out, USGBC only recognized HPDs manufacturers' self-declared inventories, or Cradle to Cradle certifications. Now that list has expanded to include a handful of other options. 

While EPDs and HPDs are new to LEED, the old familiar incentives for using products with recycled content, salvaged materials, biobased ingredients, and certified wood haven't gone away. They've just been demoted to the grab-bag of product attributes that can count towards the optimization point within the Raw Material Extraction credit. Adding to these familiar attributes is any product that's part of a manufacturer take-back program or "extended producer responsibility."

When LEED v4 was launched, the only forest certification program that could contribute was the Forest Stewardship Council. That changed in March 2016 when the Legal Woody Pilot Credit was published, introducing an alternative compliance path that recognized more mainstream certifications: Sustainable Forestry Instutute (SFI), the American Farm System (ATFS), the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management Standard (CSA) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certfication. That pilot credit is highly controversial and may well go through revisions over the next year or two, but the inclusion of these industry-backed certification programs isn't likely to go away...

By: Nadav Malin

Check out the full article at Building Green's website www.buildinggreen.com

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