Rapidly renewable materials must have a harvest cycle of 10 years or fewer. This includes materials like bamboo, agrifibers, and others listed on the chart below. Materials for this credit can come from either plants or animals—but they have to be harvested without harming the animal. Wool is okay; leather isn’t.
This credit can be very easy to achieve—it only requires that a small percentage of the materials budget be spent on rapidly renewable materials. But it can become challenging unless you make a concerted effort to research and specify products with rapidly renewable content in mind. Don’t wait until materials are purchased to calculate your credit compliance—chances are, you won’t make it.
Focusing on a few more expensive items with rapidly renewable content can be an easy way to make sure that you meet the budget threshold while minimizing the number of products you will need to track and document.
Rapidly renewable materials can be an effective advertisement of your project’s commitment to “green”—many rapidly renewable materials make great interior finishes, including bamboo flooring and veneers, cork flooring, wool carpeting, agrifiber casework, and others. Projects interested in “telling the green story” through their choice of finish materials will often pursue these materials.
While finish materials may come at a cost premium, there are plenty of other ways to use rapidly renewable materials less visibly and more affordably: strawbale construction, cotton batt insulation, cork carpet underlayment, and agrifiber boardA composite panel product derived from recovered agricultural waste fiber from sources including, but not limited to, cereal straw, sugarcane bagasse, sunflower husk, walnut shells, coconut husks, and agricultural prunings. The raw fibers are processed and mixed with resins to produce panel products with characteristics similar to those derived from wood fiber. in millwork, to name a few. (See table above.)
Knauf’s EcoBatt fiberglass insulation uses the company’s Ecose binder, which is manufactured using rapidly renewable materials instead of petroleum derivatives. Photo – Knauf Insulation
It’s also important to select rapidly renewable materials that best suit the function of the space. For example, cork absorbs sound well, which would be useful in a classroom setting. On the other hand, there may be situations when it might be better to choose a recycled material instead—wool carpet in a high-traffic area, for example, would not be as durable as recycled-content commercial carpet and would wear out more quickly.
Products with multiple environmental attributes—such as rapidly renewable and regionally produced—can contribute to multiple LEED credits.
To count as rapidly renewable for the purposes of this credit, the material must be harvested without causing the animal harm, and the animal must be able to continue to regenerate the material. A good example is wool from a sheep. See LEED InterpretationLEED Interpretations are official answers to technical inquiries about implementing LEED on a project. They help people understand how their projects can meet LEED requirements and provide clarity on existing options. LEED Interpretations are to be used by any project certifying under an applicable rating system. All project teams are required to adhere to all LEED Interpretations posted before their registration date. This also applies to other addenda. Adherence to rulings posted after a project registers is optional, but strongly encouraged. LEED Interpretations are published in a searchable database at usgbc.org. #2549 for details.
Big-ticket items commonly used for this credit include flooring, insulation, millwork, wall coverings, and coatings. These products can have enough combined cost to reach the credit threshold, and renewable options are generally widely available. That said, there are many other products made with renewable materials that can contribute to this credit, so taking the time to explore the opportunities specific to your project can be worthwhile.
Yes. There is no official list of acceptable plants, but any biobasedGenerally, classification of products and materials derived from plant and animal sources as opposed to minerals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a program to promote the use of emerging biobased products that defines them more narrowly, to exclude products that already have established markets, such as food, animal feed, and lumber. material that otherwise meets the requirements should be accepted, if you can get formal documentation from your supplier that the life cycle is less than 10 years.
Be careful, though—the caveat that USGBC provides in LEED Interpretation #10057, dated 5/9/2011, is that the plants must be "typically regenerated" within 10 years. Trees that could economically be harvested within 10 years, but for which that practice isn't typical, might not meet this standard.
Bamboo, like this FSC-certified Plyboo plywood from Smith & Fong, grows on a short harvest cycle that makes it eligible for this credit. Photo – Smith & Fong Consider using rapidly renewable materials early in the process, as it may drive the project’s aesthetics or inform specific building practices. Typical rapidly renewable materials include bamboo, cork, cotton, wheat, agrifiber, straw, wool, linseed-based linoleum, and natural rubber. (See Bird’s Eye View for a summary of how these materials are used.)
You won’t earn this credit by accident. You’ll have to make a concerted effort to use enough rapidly renewable materials to meet the credit thresholds.
Using rapidly renewable finish materials is easily identified by occupants and can help with “telling the story” of your green building.
If you decide to go after this credit, it is usually attainable, as it only requires a small percentage of your budget. Rapidly renewable finish materials may have a slightly higher cost than their conventional counterparts, however.
Masonite's straw-core Emerald doors. Photo – Masonite It may be easier and more cost-effective to use rapidly renewable materials that are not finish materials—for instance, strawbale construction, cotton batt insulation, or composite agrifiber wood for millwork cores.
Begin by creating a baseline materials budget. This is the total amount of money that will be spent on building materials. Use the Materials Calculator from the Documentation Toolkit to compile the baseline material list in a way that facilitates adding information on environmental attributes.
Your material budget assumptions and material costs should be consistent across MRc3, MRc4, MRc5, MRc6, and MRc7.
Include in your new wood materials baseline budget the material cost (excluding labor) of all items that apply under CSI Master Spec 1995 or 2004 Format Divisions 2–10. Division 12 Furniture is optional. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and equipment costs are excluded. (See Resources for Master Spec information.)
Adding Division 12 Furniture to your baseline materials budget for this credit is optional, but must be applied consistently across MRc3, MRc4, MRc5, MRc6, and MRc7. Analyze the baseline material budget to see if adding Division 12 furniture works to the project’s advantage. Generally, if the furniture helps contribute to the above MR credits it is in a project’s interest to take credit for it—however, it may help with some while making others more difficult.
Choose one of two options in creating a baseline budget—the default budget, or the actual budget (excluding labor). The default budget method gives you a baseline materials budget as 45% of your total budget, while the actual budget gives you a baseline based on what you actually spend.
A default budget is useful if you don’t want to break out the cost of materials and labor separately. You can take the total cost (material plus labor) of all items in the applicable CSI divisions and assume that cost of materials is 45% and labor cost is 55%.
The default budget is less time-consuming because the contractor does not have to break out the material and labor costs of items that are not being tracked for LEED credits, allowing the project to focus on tracking only the materials that contribute to LEED credits. You can take the total cost (material plus labor) of all items in the applicable CSI divisions and assume that cost of materials is 45% and labor cost is 55%. However, this option may put the project at a disadvantage in terms of getting full credit for the actual value of materials.
You can alternatively use the actual materials budget (excluding labor) of all materials purchased in the applicable CSI categories.
How do you decide whether to use the actual material budget or the default budget as your baseline? The lower you can get the baseline, the easier it is to purchase enough regional material to reach the credit threshold. For example, a project that is renovating an existing building will have low material costs and high labor costs. It might be better for this project to use the actual budget as the 45% default may bring the baseline too high.
Icynene offers a formulation of its foam insulation with some biobased content. Photo – IcyneneHow many rapidly renewable materials do you need to incorporate into your project? Look at the baseline material budget. Determine how much you want to spend on rapidly renewable materials to get the desired LEED point (see point thresholds in the Credit Language). Go through the project’s preliminary budget and identify what items could be purchased that are rapidly renewable. Do these items add up to the amount needed to get the desired LEED points?
Include a cushion in case of changes in design and purchasing. For example, if you are counting on points for using 2.5% rapidly renewable materials, plan for 5% of your budget to be spent on rapidly renewable materials to avoid coming up short.
Integrating rapidly renewable materials into the design and specs early on can help prevent costly change orders during construction
Use your estimated budget as a guide throughout the project. Many projects fail to earn this credit because they wait until all the materials have been purchased before calculating whether there are enough rapidly renewable materials to gain the LEED credit.
Focus on a few expensive items that may Ecotextiles uses Oeko-Tex certified linen for the curtains and the near pillow, while the far pillow and window seat are 100% field-retted, long-fiber hemp. Photo – Ecotextilesrepresent enough value to earn the credit. This approach allows you to Iimit the overall number of items you need to track and document, reducing contractor headaches. If big-ticket items are not enough, target medium-priced items next, until you reach your goal.
A single product or material can contribute to multiple credits. For example, an agrifiber-core door made within 500 miles contributes to MRc6 as well as MRc5. Focusing on products and materials with multiple environmental attributes also can limit the overall number of items that must be tracked.
Research products and look at product cut sheets and manufacturing data to see if a product contains rapidly renewable material content.
When a single product is made of multiple materials that are a combination of rapidly renewable and nonrenewable materials, use the following special considerations.
The cost value for the LEED calculation is determined by weight as a percentage of the total. For example, if a $100 piece of casework is 20% by weight rapidly renewable agrifiber, and 80% by weight marble countertop, only $20 (the 20% that the renewable agrifiber represents) would contribute toward earning MRc6.
Request that manufacturers provide assembly information broken down by weight.
The actual budget method can be more time-consuming for the contractor because it requires tracking the actual costs of all materials purchased, even those in the applicable CSI divisions that do not necessarily contribute to LEED credits.
Revisit your baseline materials budget as the design evolves to make sure the numbers remain accurate and that you remain on track to achieve your goal for the credit.
Research specific products and incorporate rapidly renewable product requirements into individual construction specifications.
For guidance and sample specification language for incorporating LEED specifications into construction documents, see MasterSpec, or the Whole Building Design Guide. (See Resources.)
Incorporating the LEED requirements directly into the drawings as well as into the specs is a good way to remind the contractor and subcontractors of the requirements.
Analyze the initial budget to know what materials the project can target for this credit, and incorporate the language of the LEED requirements accordingly into construction specs for the specific materials. The contractor will appreciate not having to fill out forms for materials that are not rapidly renewable or that have so little cost value that it is a waste of time.
Whenever possible, designate in the construction specifications that contractors use specific manufacturers that you have verified as producers of rapidly renewable items. This will help save research time for the contractors.
Include submittal requirements within each targeted construction spec section and add general requirements to the Division 1 bid package. Include a copy of any submittal documents that the contractor may need to fill out.
The general contractor (GC) should be oriented to all LEED construction-related issues, such as IAQ management, low-emitting materials, environmental materials tracking tools, and construction waste management.
LEED documentation and materials tracking are usually the GC’s responsibility even though specific materials selection may have been already determined by the architect or designer.
The GC should hold an orientation meeting with the subcontractors to review the LEED responsibilities related specifically to their trades. This exercise helps to build trust and is crucial for obtaining buy-in from all participants in the process.
Give the GC and subcontractors the following tools to help them track materials data for all MR and IEQ credits. (See the Documentation Toolkit for access.)
Enabling coordination and communication among the GC, subcontractors and design team early in the process can minimize scheduling delays and pushback from subcontractors.
Research the availability of additional rapidly renewable materials before construction begins to ensure that the project earns this credit. If product decisions are made after construction begins, there may be less time to review data sheets carefully and much greater risk of using a noncompliant product.
The contractor starts gathering and environmental data and cut sheets from subcontractors for approval.
The GC functions as the overall quality assurance provider for this credit. Responsibilities include conducting weekly reviews of subcontractor product submittals and tracking forms.
Review subcontractor product suggestions ahead of time to avoid the purchase of inappropriate materials and eliminate the need for costly change orders.
Streamline documentation and research by taking data gathered from subcontractors via the Environmental Materials Reporting Form and transfer it into a master spreadsheet for all the items being tracked for each product across MR and IEQ credits. For example, you may need to ask the millworker for rapidly renewable information for MRc6, certified wood information for MRc7, and information about adhesives installed on site for EQc4.1. If one spreadsheet collects all the data, it can streamline your documentation, associated research, and help with quality control. Use the Materials Calculator spreadsheet in the Documentation Toolkit.
A master spreadsheet facilitates information collection for subcontractors, giving them a road map of exactly what types of information to collect for each product.
Assign a responsible party to input the subcontractors’ tracking forms into the Materials Calculator (see Documentation Toolkit). A LEED consultant or an administrative assistant in the GC’s office may be the best choice for this role.
Breaking out specific materials costs (excluding labor) for construction materials that contribute to LEED credits is a requirement for LEED MR credits. Some subcontractors prefer not to do this because there are always hidden markups in the materials that subcontractors purchase at wholesale. However, you can simply include the product markup when breaking out a product’s material cost from installation and labor costs.
Transfer all the data collected in the Materials Calculator spreadsheet (see Documentation Toolkit) to the LEED Online Submittal Template and upload the product cut sheets.
Keep a list of sustainable materials used on the project so that operations staff can use these products for future renovations.
Develop rapidly renewable procurement recommendations and incorporate the recommendations into a purchasing policy. This will contribute to EBOM MRp1: Sustainable Purchasing Policy.
Excerpted from LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations Version 2.2
Reduce the use and depletion of finite raw materials and long-cycle renewable materials by replacing them with rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). materials.
Use rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). building materials and products (made from plants that are typically harvested within a ten-year cycle or shorter) for 2.5% of the total value of all building materials and products used in the project, based on cost.
Establish a project goal for rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). materials and identify products and suppliers that can support achievement of this goal. Consider materials such as bamboo, wool, cotton insulation, agrifiber, linoleum, wheat- board, strawboard and cork. During construction, ensure that the specified renewable materials are installed.
A BuildingGreen.com article that examines the pros and cons of using bamboo as a building material.
A BuildingGreen.com product review of cork flooring, which includes information on cork tree management, harvest, processing, and building applications.
BuildingGreen.com covers cotton insulation basics in this brief news article.
This BuildingGreen.com article discusses the virtues, manufacture, and availability of bamboo flooring.
A BuildingGreen.com feature that offers an in-depth look at strawbale construction.
Support on incorporating LEED requirements into specifications.
Teams can use this tool to track all materials across various MR and EQ credits. It helps teams develop a roadmap of what information needs to be tracked for different products. It can also be used early on to create the baseline budget and ensure the products that are being used will apply to the various credit thresholds.
Use a letter like this sample to orient the contractor to their responsibilities for all MR and IEQ credits. This letter is an introduction that can be customized for the credits your project is pursuing.
This is a materials tracking form that helps subcontractors record the environmental values of products they purchase. This can be distributed to each trade subcontractor and submitted to the GC for filing.
This is a VOC tracking sheet that helps subcontractors record the low-emitting qualities of the products they purchase and can be distributed to each trade subcontractor and submitted to the GC for filing. Use it specifically for earning IEQc4 credits, but in conjunction with documentation for for MR credits.
Use this calculator to help teams determine how much of the product cost can count towards the calculation if the product is an assembly of multiple materials.
Look to product cut sheets to provide information on rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). content. Some information may be incomplete and you will need to follow up with requests for more information, as shown here.
Documentation for this credit is part of the Construction Phase submittal.
I notice a lot of information about renewable or energy efficient building materials that contribute to LEED Certification. However, I can't find anything pertaining to heat transfer fluids. Do bio-based glycol (heat transfer fluids) contribute credits toward LEED? Can anyone help? Thank you so much.
Abigail, LEED projects use products and materials to earn credits based on categorization under CSI's MasterFormat. There are specific rules but a general concept is that mechanical equipment is excluded. This seems to me like it would fall under that, although I say that without specifically checking MF 1999 or MF2004, the relevant standards, to find where this kind of product would fall.
I just got an email form Vermont Natural Coatings regarding their wood finishes made from post-industrialRefers to material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process. Excluded from this category is reutilization of materials such as scrap that are generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process. Generally synonymous with "pre-consumer." recycled whey (waste from the cheese-making process). I don't see it in any listing of rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). resources but I really like the idea: MRc4 & 6 in one shot. How do you think GBCI will see it? How bout milk-based paints?
Susan, I would think that milk paints and whey-based paints would definitely qualify for MRc6. The rule of thumb with animal products is that if the animal is killed to extract the product—leather, for example—it does not qualify.
I got curious with the above picture regarding rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). material binderGlue used in manufacturing wood products, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, and engineered lumber. Most binders are made with formaldehyde. such as Knauf's Ecose binder.
How would you then calculate the material cost for this? Will it add significantly to complying with the required 2.5% by cost?
Well, every little bit helps, so it's worth including this if you're using this insulation with the biobasedGenerally, classification of products and materials derived from plant and animal sources as opposed to minerals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a program to promote the use of emerging biobased products that defines them more narrowly, to exclude products that already have established markets, such as food, animal feed, and lumber. binderGlue used in manufacturing wood products, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, and engineered lumber. Most binders are made with formaldehyde.. The trick is figuring out how much of the product, by weight, in binder, because that's how you have to calculate the cost contribution.
Knauf doesn't seem to make that info readily available--I've sent them the question via their website. Pharos gives a very wide range: 1-17%, which isn't so help. Binder contributions for other products are listed in Pharos as 1-5%, so I'd say unless Knauf comes through with better data you'd be limited to claiming 2% or so.
Well, that was quick! Using the contact form on ecobatt.us I asked the question, and heard back quickly from Bob Gardner, Technical Services Manager, with this statement:
"5% of the EcoBatt product is the binderGlue used in manufacturing wood products, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, and engineered lumber. Most binders are made with formaldehyde.."
I followed up by asking him if that's documented anywhere online, and he replied that the respond to LEED requests individually, to address local/regional sourcing issues. So if you want documentation you have to ask for it.
But the 5% figure is much more useful than the conservative 2% I was suggesting--so yes, this CAN help earn the credit.
We are puttting seedums on the roof of a new building as part of a green roof installation. The seedums are planted ahead of time in segmental trays, and are installed on the roof once they have matured. We are wondering if the plants themselves can be considered a rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). material. They seem to meet the criteria of taking less than 10 years to regenerate.
Keith, I think the answer is "no" for NC-v2.2, and "maybe" for NC-2009—for reasons discussed in this forum discussion on MRc6 for NC 2009. For the latter, it would be great if anyone has project experience to offer. Has anyone has this accepted?
We have one rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). material that only will give a range--23-25% of renewable materials. If we assume the average (24%), in the summation with all other rapidly renewable materials, we get 2.49%. Will GBCI allow us to 'round' this to 2.5% to meet the credit ? -have not tried it in the template yet to see if this is acceptable.
In general--What is the GBCI/USGBC policy on rounding any quantification---dollar or percentage, for any credit ? Thank you.
Alice, I haven't been in this situation (so close!) but the advice I have heard on this is that rounding up is not allowed. In this situation my advice would be 1) try to tweak the calculations, e.g. scrutinize your budget to see if you can justifiably make it smaller, or looking for small additional amounts of renewable content. 2) apply for the credit and include a narrative explaining why you think you are close enough to the threshold to deserve to earn the credit.
Tristan, yes, thanks; alas, that's what I thought the response might be. Will go look for that bulletin board now....
We are building a school and specified Agrifiber boardA composite panel product derived from recovered agricultural waste fiber from sources including, but not limited to, cereal straw, sugarcane bagasse, sunflower husk, walnut shells, coconut husks, and agricultural prunings. The raw fibers are processed and mixed with resins to produce panel products with characteristics similar to those derived from wood fiber. as a millwork substrate rather than MDFMedium-density fiberboard (MDF): Panel product used in cabinets and furniture; generally made from wood fiber glued together with binder; similar to particleboard, but with finer texture, offering more precise finishing. Most MDF is made with formaldehyde-emitting urea-formaldehyde binder. or particleboard. We are getting resistance from the contractor and millwork subcontractors saying that the agrifiber board is quite difficult to work with, fasten into and that the panels warp easliy. We've done research and the ASTMVoluntary standards development organization which creates source technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services testing shows that the product is superior to wood-based particleboard in moisture resistance, dimensional stability and structural properties. Does anyone have any concrete evidence that this product is superior or comparison studies between the two? Has anyone worked with subs on a project that had a positive opinion of this or any other board made with renewable biomass? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
We have heard similar comments about wheat boards. The movable wall and also furniture manufacturer told us that they don't use it anymore because of the lack in quality and stability. Bamboo based particle boards might be an option.
Must Change Orders be added to the Base Line Budget so that
the final cost of the project can only be determined at the end?
Yes. This is a construction submittal, so the documentation should be submitted when all that information is in.
Thanks. Can non-construction related items such as LD's,
liquidated damages, be excluded from the Base Line Budget?
If these are not materials costs, then yes.
On a recent product submission, a manufacturer indicated that a portion of their product consisted of eucalyptus tree fiber which was applicable to the MRc6 credit. My understanding was that no tree material was to be applicable to the calculations since the USGBC has studied it and indicated that no tree species meets the 10-year renewal criteria. Is my understanding correct or can we count this portion towards the credit calculations?
You are correct. That credit was written to exclude trees, since they are covered under MRc7.
We have millworkers claiming that wheatboard is no longer available regionally to the DC metro area and that the only manufacturers are now on the west coast. This has made the manufacturing of millwork with wheatboard unaffordable due to the increased charges associated with transportation. Does anyone have an affordable source for wheatboard or other rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). substrate they can recommend on the east coast to central US?
Hi Linda, I can't speak to the affordability, but you might want to contact Environ Biocomposites directly at 800-324-8187 (http://www.environbiocomposites.com/products.php). They are in our GreenSpec directory at
www.buildinggreen.com/katma/product.cfm?productID=683. The company is in Minnesota but may have a list of regional distributors for their wheatboard. On the East Coast, you might try ECO Supply Center and Brooklyn-based Bettencourt Green Building Supplies. Hope this is helpful!
Our construction company builds projects for the federal government, which has "Buy-American" clauses in its contracts. This has pretty much shut us out of achieving MRc6. Does anyone out there know of domestic manufacturing companies that do not acquire their RR materials overseas?
Elliot, have you checked out the "GreenSpec Products" sidebar to the right? There are a ton of ideas there, and although you need a BuildingGreen Suite membership to view the results when you click through, it's a worthwhile resource.
While items like bamboo, linoleum, and wool are likely to be made overseas, what about items like cotton (insulation), agrifiber (straw-core doors, straw panels), or soy-based products? While I can't say for sure, any of these products seem likely to have domestic sources.
Anyone else? And please keep us posted on what you learn.
The USDA actually has a database of rapidly renewableTerm describing a natural material that is grown and harvested on a relatively short-rotation cycle (defined by the LEED rating system to be ten years or less). products which are eligible for preferred procurement by government agencies....http://www.biopreferred.gov/
(Click on the "Buy Products link on the right side of the page for the catalog)
Sr. Sustainability Consultant
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