Schools–NC-v4 MRc3: Building product disclosure and optimization - sourcing of raw materials

  • Catchall credit for recycled content, FSC wood, and other attributes

    The most biologically diverse savanna in the world, the Brazilian cerrado, shown here alongside a soybean monoculture, has already lost roughly half of its original vegetation. LEED v4 is holding biobased materials to a higher standard through sustainability certifications. | Photo – Adriano Gambarini/WWF-BrazilThe most biologically diverse savanna in the world, the Brazilian cerrado, shown here alongside a soybean monoculture, has already lost roughly half of its original vegetation. LEED v4 is holding biobased materials to a higher standard through sustainability certifications. Photo – Adriano Gambarini/WWF-BrazilIf you're familiar with those familiar LEED attributes like recycled content and certified woodWood from a source that has been determined, through a certification process, to meet stated ecological and other criteria. There are numerous forest certification programs in general use based on several standards, but only the Forest Stewardship Council's standards, which include requirements that the wood be tracked through its chain-of-custody, can be used to qualify wood for a point in the LEED Rating System., this credit is where you'll find them in LEED v4, but there’s a twist.

    What’s new in LEED v4

    The intent for this new credit (see credit language) calls into focus “environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts.” In other words, USGBC wants to see, where possible, true benefits. Some requirements here are basically unchanged, like those for recycled content—but with new options and new standards to reference, there are several wrinkles. This area, which has traditionally been ripe for picking up several points through various MR credits, has also been condensed to one or two points.

    • Option 1 focuses on corporate sustainability reporting—a well established, voluntary system common among large corporations. The credit lists several frameworks to choose from, but the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers the most common one. The credit requirements are vague as to whether the corporate sustainability report, or CSR, must come from the product manufacturer itself or from the raw-material supplier to the manufacturer. USGBC is likely to accept either option as long as it includes specifics on environmental impacts of raw materials extraction. In practice, for most products this will likely mean that product manufacturers have to either pass along CSRs from their supplier or begin incorporating content from those reports into their own CSRs.
    • Option 2 references FSCIndependent, third-party verification that forest products are produced and sold based on a set of criteria for forest management and chain-of-custody controls developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international nonprofit organization. FSC criteria for certifying forests around the world address forest management, legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts. certification, materials reuse, and recycled content without notable changes from past versions of LEED. The biggest change is in biobased materials: the credit newly sanctions the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) to certify biobased materials that may not fall under the wood or bamboo category, such as cotton, wool, straw, soy, or corn-based polymers. As an extension of the Rainforest Alliance, the SAN standard ensures that crops are responsibly sourced according to ten categories, including everything from wildlife protection to occupational health.
    • Another addition is extended producer responsibility, or EPR. Better known as “product take-back,” EPR means that a manufacturer has established measures to reclaim its products at the end of their useful life and to recycle them into the same product in a “closed loop.” It has become common to see building products advertised as “recyclable,” but some manufacturers have stretched that term to the limit, using it as a label for new product lines for which established, closed-loop recycling processes haven’t made it out of research and development. LEED v4 requires compliant EPR products to be have established programs that include program literature and contact information.

    Finding LEED-compliant products

    We can break the search for products contributing to LEED v4 points down by the two credit options:

    Option 1: Raw Material Source and Extraction Reporting

    At the time LEED v4 was launched, there are no corporate social responsibility reports that met LEED requirements, for the reason already mentioned. As the marketplace adjusts to LEED v4 and USGBC clarifies its rules, look for manufacturers to demonstrate compliane through the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

    Option 2: Leadership Extraction Practices

    This option offers several viable ways to find LEED-compliant products.

    State laws requiring EPR are widespread, but not always in building materials industries. | Image – Product Stewardship InstituteState laws requiring EPR are widespread, but not always in building materials industries. Image – Product Stewardship InstituteExtended producer responsibility Measures undertaken by the maker of a product to accept its own and sometimes other manufacturers products as postconsumer waste at the end of the products useful life. Producers recover and recycle the materials for use in new products of the same type. To count toward credit compliance, a program must be widely available. For carpet, extended producer responsibility must be consistent with NSF/ANSI 140-2007. Also known as closed-loop program or product take-back.(EPR): EPR is fairly common in carpeting, and some companies in other industries are advertising LEED compliance. However, most EPR programs are in response to state regulations for products with concentrated toxic content like cell phones and fluorescent lamps, and aren't likely to contribute very much to the cost basis required for earning this credit. Making matters worse, products meeting the EPR criterion are valued at only 50% of their cost in the credit calculation.

    Bio-based materials. SAN certification by the Rainforest Alliance certificationRainforest Alliance certification is awarded to farms that protect wildlife by planting trees, control erosion, limit agrochemicals, protect native vegetation, hire local workers, and pay fair wages. could bring more rigor to an area in which anything with an agricultural basis has passed as “green.” However, SAN isn’t ready for LEED v4 because the Rainforest Alliance has had its hands full targeting sugarcane tracts and other food-focused farms in developing countries (the sole certified U.S. operation is a Hawaii coffee plantation). SAN may simply need time to evaluate the demand and target new suppliers in order to meet LEED project teams’ needs. In the meantime, the LEED Reference Guide acknowledges that the standard isn't ready and allows project teams to include products with "manufacturer-declared conformance" to SAN (except for bamboo and nonwood forest products that could be FSC-certified). Products must meet these conditions, according to the Reference Guide:

    • The product’s manufacturer provides a signed letter on company letterhead from the raw material supplier attesting that its practices meet the standard.
    • The letter includes a link to a publicly available document that specifies how the raw material supplier’s practices conform to each paragraph in all 10 sections of the standard and attesting that each “critical criterion” is met.
    • Both the letter and the detailed documentation are dated within one year before the date of project registration.

    Wood products. Certification to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) remains the standard in LEED for earning the certified wood credit. Certified products are widespread and usually available without a cost premium. LEED v4 does make it easier for non-FSC wood to contribute via two other credits, though: Building Lifecycle Impact Reduction and Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations.

    Materials reuse. Salvaged, refurbished, or reused products can contribute to credit compliance, as in previous versions of LEED.

    Recycled content. As in previous versions of LEED, the recycled content measure for LEED purposes is the sum of postconsumer recycled content plus one-half the preconsumer recycled content, based on cost.

    Other USGBC-approved programs. As with other LEED credits, this credit includes language allowing for other programs to contribute to LEED in the future. Currently there are no outliers here to be aware of, but over the course of LEED v4's usage, this could change. LEEDuser will note of updates here as USGBC makes them.

    Tips & field notes

    By essentially combining several attributes that previously had their own LEED credits into one credit worth one to two points, LEED v4 has reduced the incentive for teams to earn points by chasing these single-attribute credits that have previously been LEED MR hallmarks. This reduced emphasis is offset by the fact that products meeting most of these attributes are easier and easier to find.

  • A word about regional materials in LEED v4

    Regional materials like concrete and steel helped the NREL Café, located on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's South Table Mountain campus, achieve Platinum under LEED 2009. Projects will no longer achieve separate points for regional materials, and the radius has shrunk to 100 miles. | Photo – Paul Schwabe/NRELRegional materials like concrete and steel helped the NREL Café, located on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's South Table Mountain campus, achieve Platinum under LEED 2009. Projects will no longer achieve separate points for regional materials, and the radius has shrunk to 100 miles. Photo – Paul Schwabe/NRELNo longer given their own credit, as has been the case in LEED 2009 and earlier, locally sourced building materials are recognized in LEED v4 as a multiplier. That means that regional credit only kicks in when a product meets the basic credit requirements, such as FSCIndependent, third-party verification that forest products are produced and sold based on a set of criteria for forest management and chain-of-custody controls developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international nonprofit organization. FSC criteria for certifying forests around the world address forest management, legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts. certification or recycled content. In several MR credits, products sourced within 100 miles (160 km) of the project site are valued at 200% of their cost in credit calculations. 

    In addition to receiving reduced emphasis under LEED v4, the regional materials multiplier has a reduction in radius from 500 to 100 miles. A circle around a project with a radius of 500 miles allows 785,000 square miles from which to gather materials. Reduce that radius to 100 miles, and you haven’t divided that area by five: you’ve divided it by 25, down to 31,400 square miles—a dramatic reduction.

    Product manufacturers have commonly touted their contributions to LEED’s Regional Materials credit. Those manufacturers will now be pressed to offer more detailed information to show that their products come from within a tight radius, while some manufacturers, particularly those making complex assemblies of products with plastics whose origin can’t be traced, might get out of the game.

  • MR Credit 3: Building product disclosure and optimization - sourcing of raw materials

    Intent

    To encourage the use of products and materials for which life cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life cycle impacts. To reward project teams for selecting products verified to have been extracted or sourced in a responsible manner.

    Requirements

    Option 1. raw material source and extraction reporting (1 point)

    Use at least 20 different permanently installed products from at least five different manufacturers that have publicly released a report from their raw material suppliers which include raw material supplier extraction locations, a commitment to long-term ecologically responsible land use, a commitment to reducing environmental harms from extraction and/or manufacturing processes, and a commitment to meeting applicable standards or programs voluntarily that address responsible sourcing criteria.

    • Products sourced from manufacturers with self-declared reports are valued as one half (1/2) of a product for credit achievement.
    • Third-party verified corporate sustainability reports (CSR) which include environmental impacts of extraction operations and activities associated with the manufacturer’s product and the product’s supply chain, are valued as one whole product for credit achievement calculation. Acceptable CSR frameworks include the following:
      • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Report
      • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
      • U.N. Global Compact: Communication of Progress
      • ISO 26000: 2010 Guidance on Social Responsibility
      • USGBC approved program: Other USGBC approved programs meeting the CSR criteria.

    AND/OR

    Option 2. leadership extraction practices (1 point)

    Use products that meet at least one of the responsible extraction criteria below for at least 25%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed building products in the project.

    • Extended producer responsibility. Products purchased from a manufacturer (producer) that participates in an extended producer responsibility program or is directly responsible for extended producer responsibility. Products meeting extended producer responsibility criteria are valued at 50% of their cost for the purposes of credit achievement calculation.
    • Bio-based materials. Bio-based products must meet the Sustainable Agriculture Network’s Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Bio-based raw materials must be tested using ASTMVoluntary standards development organization which creates source technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services Test Method D6866 and be legally harvested, as defined by the exporting and receiving country. Exclude hide products, such as leather and other animal skin material. Products meeting bio-based materials criteria are valued at 100% of their cost for the purposes of credit achievement calculation.
    • Wood products. Wood products must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or USGBC-approved equivalent. Products meeting wood products criteria are valued at 100% of their cost for the purposes of credit achievement calculation.
    • Materials reuse. Reuse includes salvaged, refurbished, or reused products. Products meeting materials reuse criteria are valued at 100% of their cost for the purposes of credit achievement calculation.
    • Recycled content. Recycled content is the sum of postconsumer recycled content plus one-half the preconsumer recycled content, based on cost. Products meeting recycled content criteria are valued at 100% of their cost for the purposes of credit achievement calculation.
    • USGBC approved program. Other USGBC approved programs meeting leadership extraction criteria.

    Pilot Alternative Compliance Path Available

    The following pilot alternative compliance paths is available for this credit. See the pilot credit library for more information.

    MRpc102 - Legal Wood

    For credit achievement calculation, products sourced (extracted, manufactured, and purchased) within 100 miles (160 km) of the project site are valued at 200% of their base contributing cost. For credit achievement calculation, the base contributing cost of individual products compliant with multiple responsible extraction criteria is not permitted to exceed 100% its total actual cost (before regional multipliers) and double counting of single product components compliant with multiple responsible extraction criteria is not permitted and in no case is a product permitted to contribute more than 200% of its total actual cost.

    Structure and enclosure materials may not constitute more than 30% of the value of compliant building products.

    SITES-LEED Equivalency

    This LEED credit (or a component of this credit) has been established as equivalent to a SITES v2 credit or component. For more information on using the equivalency as a substitution in your LEED or SITES project, see this article and guidance document.

4 Comments

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Allison Zuchman The Green Engineer The Green Engineer
Jun 30 2016
LEEDuser Member
144 Thumbs Up

Structure and enclosure

Project Location: United States

One of the most impactful changes to this credit from LEEDv3 is: "Structure and enclosure materials may not constitute more than 30% of the value of compliant building products." In my experience so farFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters)., this requirement plus the change to the regional attribute (100 miles and only as a multiplier of another attribute) make 25% very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve on most projects.

I am curious, has anyone achieved this credit? And if so, any tips?

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Charalampos Giannikopoulos Senior Sustainability Consultant, DCarbon Jun 30 2016 Guest 1975 Thumbs Up

In fact Allison, this is a very good point. We had a similar situation with a special v4 project whose 65% of its budget was spent for structure and enclosure materials simply making the threshold of 25% unattainable by definition. In my opinion this is something that the USGBC needs to reconsider.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jul 01 2016 LEEDuser Moderator

Yes, very good point! USGBC told me at one point that all of the BPDO credits had been earned (mostly on v2009 projects or v4 pilot projects), so presumably a project has done this. I know it wasn't under Option 1 because that is not currently achievable. Maybe it was a CI project, though? I wonder if you can hit the 25% if you include furniture and furnishings in the scope.

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Allison Zuchman The Green Engineer, The Green Engineer Jul 01 2016 LEEDuser Member 144 Thumbs Up

Perhaps a CI project? (A CS project would have no chance at all.) Furniture and furnishings may help a little but that is often a separate part of the project scope/budget handled by others. In general, I do not think adding furniture would make the impact we are looking for to meet the credit requirements, though I suppose that could depend on project type (i.e low-rise school vs high-rise office).

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Jul 27 2017
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