Green building

LEED v4 Does Not Include Chemical Red List

By Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Which Green Building Product Criteria Should Facility Managers Use? Pt. 2: 'Red List' Of Chemicals Can Help Guide Building Product Selection, But Will Not Be DefinitivePt. 3: LEED, Living Building Challenge Can Help Inform Product SelectionPt. 4: This PagePt. 5: Environmental Product Declarations, Health Product Declarations Offer Standardized Data On Building Product Information

One of the misperceptions regarding the new LEED v4 is that it includes a chemical red list, prohibiting certain materials. That's not accurate, say Baer and Owens.

"LEED doesn't even come close to saying a building can't use any chemical," says Owens. "LEED also doesn't say one product is better or more environmentally responsible than others."

So there were really two issues: One was that data that LEED was asking for was not available, and the other was concern over what that data would show, and therefore, whether products that revealed the wrong ingredients would be eliminated from use in LEED buildings.

The year of "cooling off," as Baer puts it, has changed attitudes. "Manufacturers have now accepted that transparency will be an expectation going forward."

Owens adds: "What we've tried to do with LEED is set up a mechanism that allows users to give the preferential selection to products they know something about. The goal with the new Materials and Resources credits is to break the deadlock and show users how to get that information and manufacturers how to compile it."

On the other hand, the Living Building Challenge does have a red list of banned chemicals — any buildings hoping to achieve certification must avoid products with chemicals on its list. "All the chemicals on our list are known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors," says Sturgeon. "All have human health impacts."

The Living Building Challenge is developing a system called Declare that allows manufacturers to overlay their products (specifically, their products' ingredients) onto the Living Building Challenge's red list. If the product is compliant, it can join a searchable database. As this resource grows, it could be another valuable source of product information for facility managers — similar to multi-attribute third-party green certifications, like Cradle to Cradle, EcoLogo, Green Seal, and Sustainable Choice.

Sources of Red Lists

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  posted on 6/14/2013   Article Use Policy

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