Schools-2009 MRc6: Rapidly Renewable Materials

  • NC Schools MRc6 Type3 Renewable Mat Diagram
  • What’s “rapidly renewable”?

    Pros and cons of rapidly renewable materials

    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. 

    “Big ticket” items are just the ticket

    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.

    Finish materials tell a “green story”

    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.

    There are affordable options

    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

    Suit the materials to the space

    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. 

    Double dip with MR credits

    Products with multiple environmental attributes—such as rapidly renewable and regionally produced—can contribute to multiple LEED credits.

    FAQs for MRc6

    How does this credit treat materials that come from animals such as wool or leather?

    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.

    What building components are typically purchased with renewable materials to reach the 2.5% credit threshold?

    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.

    A manufacturer is claiming that certain trees, e.g. balsa, acacia, mesquite, can be harvested within 10 years, and thus contribute to this credit. Is this acceptable?

    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.

Legend

  • Best Practices
  • Gotcha
  • Action Steps
  • Cost Tip

Schematic Design

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  • Plyboo in lobbyBamboo, 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.

Design Development

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  • 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. The LEED Online credit form helps ensure this automatically. 


  • Include in your new wood materials baseline budget the material cost (excluding labor) of all new wood items that apply under CSI Master Spec 2004 Format Divisions 3–10, 31.60 Foundations, 32.10 Paving, 32.30 Site Improvements, and 32.90 Planting. 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.  


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Assemblies


  • 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.


  • Include in your new wood materials baseline budget the material cost (excluding labor) of all new wood items that apply under CSI MasterFormat Divisions 03–10, 31 (31.60.00 Foundations), and 32 (32.10.00, Paving, 32.30.00 Site Improvements, and 32.90.00 Plantings). Division 12 Furniture is optional as long as it is consistently applied across all credits. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and equipment costs are excluded. (See Resources for Master Spec information.)

Construction Documents

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  • 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.

Construction

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  • Preparation Before Construction Begins


  • 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.)

    • Materials Calculator:  This is a master tracking spreadsheet that the GC can use internally to compile product information received from the subcontractors. The spreadsheet tracks LEED values across multiple LEED MR and IEQ credits.
    • Environmental Materials Reporting Form: This is a material tracking form that helps subcontractors record the environmental values for products they purchase. This can be distributed to each trade subcontractor and submitted to the GC for filing. 
    • Low-Emitting Materials Reporting Form: 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.
    • Low-Emitting Material Limits: These tables, found with each credit here on LEEDuser, summarize the maximum VOC limits for different types of adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, composite wood, and flooring products. When subcontractors search for low-emitting products, they should consult these charts.

  • 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.


  • During Construction


  • 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 IEQc4.1. 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 form and upload the product cut sheets. 


  • Only a random 20% sampling of product cut sheets need to be uploaded to LEED Online to document this credit.

Operations & Maintenance

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  • 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.  

  • USGBC

    Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations

    MR Credit 6: Rapidly renewable materials

    1 Point

    Intent

    To 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.

    Requirements

    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 for 2.5% of the total value of all building materials and products used in the project, based on cost. Rapidly renewable building materials and products are made from agricultural products that are typically harvested within a 10-year or shorter cycle.

    Potential Technologies & Strategies

    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, wheatboard, strawboard and cork. During construction, ensure that the specified renewable materials are installed.

Articles

Bamboo in Construction: Is the Grass Always Greener?

A BuildingGreen.com article that examines the pros and cons of using bamboo as a building material.


Cork Flooring

A BuildingGreen.com product review of cork flooring, which includes information on cork tree management, harvest, processing, and building applications.


Cotton Insulation is Back!

BuildingGreen.com covers cotton insulation basics in this brief news article.


Bamboo Flooring

This BuildingGreen.com article discusses the virtues, manufacture, and availability of bamboo flooring.


Straw: The Next Great Building Material?

A BuildingGreen.com feature that offers an in-depth look at strawbale construction.

Organizations

Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) — Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers

Support on incorporating LEED requirements into specifications. 

Materials Calculator

Teams can use this tool to track all materials across various MR and IEQ 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.

Environmental Materials Reporting Form

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.

Rapidly Renewable Assembly Calculator

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.

Product Cut Sheets

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.

Letter to Contractor for MR and IEQ Credits

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.

Low-Emitting Materials Reporting Form

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 low-emitting materials credits, but in conjunction with documentation for MR credits.

Materials Calculator

Teams can use this tool to track all materials across applicable MR and IEQ 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.

LEED Online Forms: Schools-2009 MR

The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each Schools-2009 MR credit. You'll need to fill out the live versions of these forms on LEED Online for each credit you hope to earn.

Version 4 forms (newest):

Version 3 forms:

These links are posted by LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. USGBC has certain usage restrictions for these forms; for more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."

Construction Submittal

HardhatDocumentation for this credit is part of the Construction Phase submittal.

7 Comments

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Pedro Ribeiro Director of Sustainability Edifícios Saudáveis Consultores
Sep 18 2013
LEEDuser Member
812 Thumbs Up

Can I contribute cork to multiple credits (MRc4 and MRc6)?

If my cork product has recycled content and 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)., can I use it to contribute for both of them?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 18 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

I don't see why not. I can't recall this question coming up before but it seems like a no-brainer. My only hesitation is that you can't double-dip MRc4 and MRc7, but that's because MRc7 is about "new" wood.

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Sheri Dieso Architect Bryant Dieso LLC
Apr 30 2013
LEEDuser Member
13 Thumbs Up

Can Exterior Plantings count in MRc6?

We have a Science & Math HS Building under construction and have come up short with our 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. We are investigating various approaches in order to meet this credit.

Under MRc6 in 'LEED 2009: The Missing Manual' it’s mentioned that “exterior plants purchased for the project probably do count in MRc6 . . .”

I found an early 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., #1448 dated 3/6/06, that says exterior plant materials cannot contribute to MRc6 (because using exterior plantings is standard practice and don’t help fulfill the credit intent to reduce use of finite raw materials), but the value of extensive plantings may be deducted from all MR credit calculations.

Is the LEED Interpretation, which addressed a question from v2.1, now outdated? Since the LEED 2009 Ref. Guide specifically includes Div. 32 Plantings in the total materials cost, does the comment from The Missing Manual supersede LI #1448? It would much more beneficial to our project to count our exterior plantings in MRc6, but even deleting the value of those plantings would help to a certain extent.

I should note that our extensive plantings will integrally link with the school’s curriculum, and include such areas as rain, butterfly, native bird and woodland gardens, as well as habitat and edible landscape areas, and are the focus of an ID credit. Please advise. Thank you.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Apr 30 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Sheri, in my opinion, LI #1448 shouldn't apply to LEED 2009 projects. If USGBC mean to exclude Div. 32 from MRc6 and not the other MR credits, or to do some kind of hybrid approach as outlined in that LI, they should have said so! Thus we at LEEDuser think plantings can be included. That "probably" is a hedge against GBCI coming up with a ruling or review comment that contradicts this, and they have the final word. The Missing Manual was written here at LEEDuser. I will say, though, that GBCI read it and made some corrections, and they didn't comment on that.

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MAGDA TELENGA Architect AEDIFICA INC.
Jul 18 2011
LEEDuser Member
262 Thumbs Up

Hevea brasiliensis

Hello,
Has anyone ever specified rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) wood as a finish? I haven`t seen it being listed in any charts as the one above and it hasn`t come up in the forum posts.
The manufacturer claims that it has short harvest cycle and that after the latex is extracted the wood can be used as lumber.
Thank you,

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David Posada Sustainability Manager, SS TAG member, GBD Architects Jul 18 2011 LEEDuser Expert 18072 Thumbs Up

Haven't seen these used - Do they meet the 10 year or less harvest cycle mentioned in the requirements? I understand that rubber trees may start producing latex after only 5 or 6 years, but are often kept in production until they are about 25 to 30 years old.

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MAGDA TELENGA Architect, AEDIFICA INC. Jul 19 2011 LEEDuser Member 262 Thumbs Up

You`re right David. Now that I`ve read a bit more about it I learned that after 25 to 30 years of exploitation the trees use to be chopped down and burned however they started using it in construction, cabinetry and as a finish since the interest in alternative and more sustainable wood sources emerged. I guess the rubber tree doesn`t fit into the description 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). source but I wonder if there is another credit rewarding the project for using wood that has already served a different purpose and would otherwise be discarded.
Thank you,
M

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