By Tristan Roberts, HPDC, Director of Technical and Education Programs

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released LEED v4.1 for Building Design + Construction (BD+C) projects, and the new version promises to support further advances in adoption of material transparency and optimization.

Although still officially a “draft,” projects can now register under a LEED v4.1 beta, and LEED v4 projects can upgrade to LEED v4.1 credits through LEED Online.  

The LEED v4 Materials and Resources (MR) section was a big focus of v4.1 development. The central Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits have suffered under poor adoption rates by LEED projects.

But now USGBC has made key changes to those credits that it hopes will boost both adoption, and overall advances in building product reporting and optimization.

Let’s review those changes, with a focus on the Materials Ingredient credit, which Health Product Declarations (HPDs) contribute to.

HPDs still central to Material Ingredients credit

Amid all the changes, it’s important to note that the Materials Ingredient credit is not radically changed. Health Product Declarations (HPDs), Declare labels, C2C certification, and other programs still contribute to earning the credit. Gather products that offer those labels or certifications in enough quantities, and you’ll earn points.

More achievable thresholds

For Material Ingredients Option 1, there is a lower number of products required for CS and Warehouses & Distribution Centers—now 10 permanently installed products, instead of 20. Since there are fewer products overall used on these typologies, makes the credit more accessible to them.

For Material Ingredients Option 2, the limit on structure and enclosure to 30% of compliant products has been removed. That’s good news, given that the limit was fairly arbitrary, and limited options for some project types. Furthermore, discouragement of optimization for these high-impact, high-volume construction products didn’t make sense.

For Option 2, the achievement threshold has also been lowered, in a big way. It’s now 10%, by cost, of permanently installed products, or 10 different compliant products, down from 25%.

Verified labels get a boost

Under Option 1 of the credit, third-party verified HPDs and Declare labels are now worth 1.5 products for credit achievement calculations, rather than just one.

This is a significant change that recognizes the higher quality of information in verified reports, and higher level of effort to produce them. Many project teams have expressed a preference for disclosure reports with a higher level of rigor, yet verified reports are still a small minority of what’s out there. LEED is helping those teams by providing an incentive for manufacturers to get verification, such as through HPDC’s third-party verification program.

Go get more GreenScreen Benchmark assessments!  

Option 2 of the Materials Ingredient credit continues to incentivize manufacturers and other market participants to sponsor more GreenScreen® Benchmark assessments for chemicals. The credit thresholds have been softened a bit. If they seemed discouraging in the past, give them a fresh look.

Basically, if manufacturers are willing to get a third-party verified HPD (which, remember, is also incentivized under Option 1), can avoid the worst LT-1 and BM-1 chemicals, and can hit a 75% or 95% Benchmark assessment threshold, they can contribute to this option.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of Option 2

For better or for worse, Option 2 in the Material Ingredients credit is still fairly complex. Here’s a more detailed breakdown for if you want those details.

In LEED v4:

  • Products are valued at 100% of cost when they have:
    • Fully inventoried chemical ingredients to 100 ppm
    • No BM-1 chemicals, i.e., the worst GreenScreen rating for a chemical
    • AND have some ingredients assessed with the GreenScreen List Translator (this is pretty easy)
  • Products are valued at 150% of cost when they have:
    • Same as above but instead of some level of GreenScreen List Translator assessment, all ingredients must have undergone a full GreenScreen Benchmark Assessment.

Except for some pretty simple products that may be lucky, this latter requirement is quite difficult, as the number of chemicals with full GreenScreen Benchmark assessments that are publicly available is fairly low.

Now in LEED v4.1, the requirements have been adjusted as follows.

The following are valued at 100% cost or 1 product:

  • HPDs at 100 ppm, third-party verified
  • No GreenScreen LT-1s, i.e., the worst rating under GreenScreen’s lighter-weight List Translator assessment
  • OR 75% GreenScreen Benchmark assessed (by weight; publicly available)

The following are valued at 150% cost or 1.5 products:

  • HPDs at 100 ppm, 100% screened, third-party verified
  • No GreenScreen LT-1s or BM-1s
  • AND 95% GreenScreen assessed (by weight; publicly available)

Tristan Roberts is Director of Technical and Education Programs for HPDC. You can reach him with comments and feedback at troberts@hpd-collaborative.org.