How LEED v4.1 Could Affect Building Product Manufacturers

Posted On: 
Jan 9, 2019
How LEED v4.1 Could Affect Building Product Manufacturers

How will LEED v4.1 affect building product manufacturers? What new requirements, benefits, and opportunities exist in the proposed update to the LEED rating system? Let’s look at major changes to the LEED v4 BD+C rating system.

USGBC released the LEED v4.1 BD+C draft on December 17, 2018. The USGBC has stated that LEED v4.1 will be the most inclusive and transparent platform to date. The organization has stressed that LEED v4.1 will be bigger, bolder, and stronger. The updated referenced standards allow projects to earn LEED points through building performance monitoring. Performance outcomes will be supported by methodologies and a data-driven path so that users can measure performance on an ongoing basis.

LEED v4.1 BD+C Overview

Before we dig into the proposed Materials and Resources LEED credit changes, let’s review significant updates for LEED v4.1 BD+C beta. Major changes include:

• Energy metrics will include both the cost and greenhouse gas emissions. This is a first for LEED!

• Upgrade to ASHRAE 90.1-2016. The 2016 edition contains several important changes to reduce energy consumption that will be of interest to the commercial building design and construction community. ASHRAE 90.1-2016 includes a new compliance path and a critical change in formatting, intended to improve its overall flexibility and use. Technical changes affect building envelope, mechanical, and lighting systems.

• Several LEED v4 credit requirements have been revised to make them more achievable. The Rainwater Management credit has been very difficult for many project teams to achieve. Requirements now include a lowered minimum percentile for rainfall events and more guidance for zero-lot-line projects.

• The new LEED v4.1 credit Renewable Energy addresses diverse methods of renewables procurement and evolving global renewables markets. The credit requirements include: use on-site renewable energy systems, procure renewable energy offsite, or purchase Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs) or carbon offsets to meet or offset annual building greenhouse gas emissions.

• The LEED v4.1 BD+C Low-Emitting Materials credit has been restructured to be easier to understand, while still promoting holistic consideration of products installed in the building and how they impact indoor air quality.

LEED v4.1 BD+C MR Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization- Environmental Product Declarations

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) have been one of the major buzzwords in the industry for the past few years since the launch of LEED v4. Many building product manufacturers have struggled to create EPDs due to cost, complexity, and confusion. When LEED v4 launched, the only manufacturers able to conduct an Life Cycle Assessment and develop an EPD were mainly large manufacturers. Several European product manufacturers had an advantage in that they had been publishing EPDs for decades.

EPDs are commonly requested by LEED project teams on their materials submission forms for manufacturers. An EPD is a standardized way of communicating the environmental impacts, such as global warming potential and energy resource depletion, of a product or system. Exploring large scale industrial systems to collect and analyze data can be an overwhelming task for most manufacturers.

Creating an EPD can be a difficult task and often requires the services of professionals with a hard sciences background. Although many manufacturers may have a chemist, biologist, or other professional with a sciences background, many manufacturers hire third party consultants to conduct LCAs and create EPDs due to their complexity.

Building product manufacturers who conduct LCA’s and publish LEED v4 compliant EPDs should be commended. However, the majority of building product manufacturers in North America don’t have EPDs for their products. The USGBC wants to make participation in the LEED v4.1 BD+C MR Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization- Environmental Product Declarations easier for all involved.

What are the proposed changes for this LEED credit and how will it affect building product manufacturers? While we won’t examine all the changes for Option 1 or even Option 2, we will review the significant revisions:

• For LEED v4.1, products with a publicly available, critically reviewed life-cycle assessment conforming to ISO 14044 that have at least a cradle to gate scope are valued as one whole product for the purposes of credit achievement calculation. This is a significant change for both product manufacturers and LEED project teams.

In LEED v4, products with publicly available, critically reviewed life-cycle assessment conforming to ISO 14044 were valued as only one quarter (1/4) of a product for credit achievement calculation. This is good news for product manufacturers who may have limited budgets and resources to complete an entire EPD project. Their given product’s value for this credit has increased several times! This is also great news for LEED project teams who now have potentially more products to choose from to fulfill this LEED credit.

• For LEED v4.1, Environmental Product Declarations which conform to ISO 14025 and EN 15804 or ISO 21930 and have at least a cradle to gate scope, products with third-party certification (Type III), including external verification and external critical review in which the manufacturer is explicitly recognized as the participant by the program operator are valued as 1.5 products for the purposes of credit achievement calculation.

LEED project teams and product manufacturers will be rewarded with a half-point increase in LEED v4.1 compared to LEED v4 for this type of EPD. Building product manufacturers who have invested in Product-specific Type III EPDs will have even more opportunities for product specification than in the past.

LEED v4.1 BD+C MR: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Sourcing of Raw Materials

In the old days, product manufacturers were happy to contribute points to LEED projects for recycled content and products manufactured within 500 miles. Those days are over. LEED v4 set a high standard for LEED certified projects and many project teams and manufacturers had a difficult time meeting the requirements. After much pushback and less than optimal LEED certification numbers for LEED v4 projects, the USGBC has relaxed some of the requirements to make credits more achievable in LEED v4.1.

The revisions for MR: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Sourcing of Raw Materials should allow more manufacturers to participate and help LEED project teams. Option 1 of the credit focuses on a publicly released report from manufacturers about 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.

In LEED v4, products sourced from manufacturers with self-declared reports are valued as one half (1/2) of a product for credit achievement. In LEED v4.1, products sourced from manufacturers with self-declared reports are valued as one point.

In addition, LEED project teams used to have to use products from at least five different manufacturers that have publicly released a report. In LEED v4.1, that has now been reduced to three different manufacturers that meet at least one of the responsible sourcing and extraction criteria. Project teams can now also contribute 2 points when they use products sourced from at least five different manufacturers that meet at least one of the responsible sourcing and extraction criteria for at least 40%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed building products in the project.

How LEED v4.1 Could Affect Building Product Manufacturers

LEED v4.1 BD+C MR: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Material Ingredients

Health Product Declarations (HPDs) have become one of the most requested specification resources for LEED certified projects, WELL, mindful MATERIALS, Google Portico, and platforms like Sustainable Minds. HPDs are also the primary product disclosure to meet this MR LEED v4 credit.

The HPD Open Standard is a voluntary technical specification that reports product contents and the associated health information. The HPD Open Standard was developed by manufacturers, architects, designers, specifiers, contractors, and scientists. HPDs enable manufacturers to disclose information from meeting minimum requirements to full disclosure and transparency. The HPD Open Standard is managed the HPD Collaborative (HPDC), a non-profit member organization representing the AEC industry.

Building product manufacturers can use a variety of product disclosures to meet LEED v4.1 BD+C MR: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Material Ingredients- Option 1. Besides the popular and much requested HPD, manufacturers can provide the following to help meet the LEED credit:

• Manufacturer Inventory

• Cradle to Cradle

• Declare

• ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard

• Cradle to Cradle Material Health Certificate

• Product Lens Certification

• Facts - NSF/ANSI 336: Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric

However, at the end of the day the HPD has become the most requested disclosure to fulfill this LEED credit. Typically, HPDs are more budget-friendly, less complicated and time consuming for product manufacturers to develop than the alternatives. The major change for Option 1 for this credit is the addition of half a point (.5) for any compliant reports above with third-party verification of content inventory. This is great news for building product manufacturers.

There is a HPDC Third-Party Verification Program. Verified HPDs will be available on the HPD Public Repository. The HPDC Third Party Verification Program manages the credentialing and methodology for independent review and verification of completed HPDs. Verification is a separate process, distinct from the preparation of the HPD by the manufacturer or a consulting preparer. If a Third-Party Preparer has prepared the HPD on behalf of the manufacturer, even if certified as a Third-Party Verifier, they may not verify HPDs that they have prepared.

The HPD verification process focuses on three critical points. First, the HPD is verified that is complies with the HPD Open Standard. Second the HPD verification process confirms that the product’s formulation matches the documentation and standard requirements. Finally, the HPD verification process ensures that any non-disclosed proprietary information is accurately represented.

Building product manufacturers now have the ability to contribute more value to LEED v4.1 BD+C MR: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Material Ingredients under Option 2 Material Ingredient Optimization. In the previous version of LEED v4, project teams had to use products that documented their material ingredient optimization using GreenScreen Benchmarks, List Translators, and Assessments or various Cradle to Cradle certifications for at least 25%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed products in the project.

For LEED v4.1, project teams may now use permanently installed products from at least three different manufacturers that document their material ingredient optimization using the paths below. They must choose either 10 compliant products, or select products that constitute at least 10%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed products in the project.

Material Ingredient Screening and Optimization Action Plan

(value at 50% by cost or 1⁄2 product)

•The manufacturer has screened the product to at least 1,000 ppm and has provided a publicly available inventory meeting the requirements of Option 1 and completed a detailed action plan to mitigate or reduce known hazards using the principles of green chemistry. The action plan must be product-specific (not company, manufacturer or brand), and must include additional info found in the draft document.

Advanced Inventory & Assessment

(value at 100% by cost or 1 product)

• Manufacturer Inventory or Health Product Declaration: The product has demonstrated a chemical inventory to at least 0.01% by weight (100 ppm) with no GreenScreen LT-1 hazards or GHS Category 1 hazards. The HPD or Manufacturer Inventory must be third party verified.

• Manufacturer Inventory or HPD: The product has demonstrated a chemical inventory to at least 0.01% by weight (100ppm) and at least 75% by weight of product is assessed using GreenScreen Benchmark assessment. The remaining 25% by weight of product has been inventoried. The GreenScreen assessment must be publicly available. The HPD or Manufacturer Inventory must be third-party verified.

• Declare labels designated as Red List Free that are third-party verified.

• Cradle to Cradle Certified v3 product with Material Health category score of Bronze, or a
certified Material Health Certificate at Bronze level.

Material Ingredient Optimization

(value at 150% by cost or 1.5 products)

• Manufacturer Inventory or HPD: The product has demonstrated a chemical inventory to at least 0.01% by weight (100ppm) and at least 95% by weight of product is assessed using GreenScreen Benchmark assessment. No Benchmark 1 hazards (BM-1) are present in the end use product. The remaining 5% by weight of product not assessed has been inventoried and screened using GreenScreen List Translator and no GreenScreen LT-1 hazards are present in the end use product. The documents must be third party verified.

• Cradle to Cradle v3 certified product with Material Health category score of Silver or higher, or a Cradle to Cradle certified Material Health Certificate at Silver level or higher.

The bottom line for product manufacturers is that if that publish a LEED v4 compliant HPD that is third-party verified and meets the Advanced Inventory & Assessment requirements, they will have much greater specification opportunities. Basically, we are seeing a multi-tier approach to HPDs in LEED v4.1. One could evaluate HPDs in multiple categories now: non-compliant, LEED v4 compliant for Option 1 and 2, and LEED v4.1 compliant for Option 1 and 2. HPDs help manufacturers contribute more points in LEED v4.1 and offer great value for many of the LEED credit options.

On a final note for this credit, it appears that LEED v4.1 has removed Option 3- Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization (1 point). LEED project teams must not have pursued this option, so it has been dropped from LEED v4.1. Supply chains can be very complicated, and it appears the focus has shifted from the supply chain to products and potential hazards for this credit.

A new feature of LEED v4.1 development is that USGBC is opening a call for ideas for the LEED rating systems. Professionals can submit proposals in terms of actual edits to the existing LEED language using tools provided by USGBC. LEED v4.1 BD+C will launch the beta version this month. During this phase, stakeholders can submit their ideas that will be reviewed by the LEED Steering Committee. After a public comment period phase which is open to members and non-members, a final draft will be approved by the USGBC Board of Directors and LEED Steering Committee. The LEED v4.1 draft rating systems will then be put to vote.

In future blogs, we will examine the new LEED v4.1 BD+C EQ: Low-Emitting Materials credit and other revisions that could affect building product manufacturers. Overall, LEED v4.1 offers new opportunities for product manufacturers to contribute to projects and revises some requirements making them easier to achieve. We look forward to a robust conversation from the AEC community about the proposed changes. How will LEED v4.1 affect you and your company?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please call Brad Blank at 360-727-3528.