Does the New LEED Include a "Red List" of Chemicals?

  June 12, 2013

Today's tip of the day looks at the new version of LEED and what it actually says about product selection criteria.

As you may know, the new LEEDv4 rating system is due out this full (assuming the rating system is approved by USGBC membership this summer), complete with new credits (MRc2 and MRc3) for "building product disclosure and optimization — sourcing of raw materials" and "building product disclosure and optimization — material ingredients." Each of these credits is intended "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."

Does this mean that LEED is preventing project teams from using certain chemicals? No, of course not. But it does seem like a broad definition for product selection or for avoiding certain materials. When you get into the nitty-gritty, what it actually means was odious enough to several industry trade groups — including the American Chemistry Council — that they decided to start their own organization. The American High-Performance Building Coalition is dedicated to "the development of green building standards through consensus-based processes derived from data and performance-driven criteria." So far, however, there hasn't been much activity beyond the group's founding and initial PR push.

Each project team and facility management team should be responsible for defining its own product selection criteria. Sometimes that will include a red list — common in health care and schools. Sometimes it will not. It all depends on the priorities of the organization.


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