Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Highlights of LEED v4

LEED v4 green building rating system
With the USGBC updating to LEED v4, professionals in the green building field believe that the new version will impact everyone, not just contractors and architects. The new product standards are going make the business that create these materials work harder to master the rigorous checkmarks required for LEED v4.

Utilizing Transparency
"Update: A building product can contribute to a LEED point just by disclosing information related to environmental and health impacts. Even if your product contains carcinogens and has a large carbon footprint, it theoretically could contribute to two LEED points just by being transparent about these unfortunate facts.

This may seem controversial to some, especially with the inclusion of performance-related credits. Transparency is important for all companies, not just those involved with the update. Honesty is the way to go in business. When a company is honest and shows the public what they are doing and how they are improving, this creates trusts with clients.

For buildings, if a designer never reads the detailed product disclosures submitted for a LEED v4 project, manufacturers will know what they disclosed. With this included step add, materials can be improved before the next time of creation."

Using Life Cycle Assessment New Role
"Update: Using verified life cycle assessment (LCA) data to fully the environmental impacts of the entire life cycle of the product. Manufacturers are asked to provide Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) or third-party verified life cycle assessments.

Having an EPD contributes to one point. Another point is given by showing that the product's impacts are below industry averages. Recycled content will contribute, but only to show responsibly sourced raw materials.

Firms that verify LCA data report an increase of new customers that want to produce EPDs. With this increase, LCA is may become a market differentiator or a baseline requirement to compete in a high-profile market."

Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials
"Update: Credit for raw materials sourcing requires manufacturers to report extraction locations and supplier commitments to responsible practices for 90% of a product's raw materials.

Before, some of this information was confidential for business relationship purposes. LEED v4 aspires to reward companies who have these conversations with suppliers before there is a problem."

Hazard-based Ingredients Reporting
"Update: Addressing the potential toxicity of building product ingredients. Products can contribute to one point by declaring all ingredients are more than 0.1 percent by weight, and another point if companies can prove that they are avoiding some of the most hazardous chemicals as determined by several governmental lists.

LEED v4 recognizes the Health Product Declaration, a hazard-based standard format for reporting ingredients and health warnings. The association presented its own format, the Product Transparency Declaration, which limits reporting chemical hazard warnings in favor of providing basic information on exposure risks to users.  LEED v4 could change the way hazards are reported with the hazard-based chemical assessment, rather than weighing the "healthiness" of product ingredients."

What This Means
"The new credits in LEED v4 are encouraging businesses to be transparent and accountable. Figuring out how to best implement more holistic sustainability reporting is a work in progress, but we see life cycle assessment, chemical hazard assessment and supply chain transparency as part of the new normal for manufacturers in every sector."

How GreenEDU Can Help
Green Education Services is also preparing for the new LEED v4 rating systems and credentialing exams. View our training options at to learn more.

The original post is by Mikhail Davis and Melissa Vernon. This post is edited and re-blogged from GreenBiz.Com