Tom Lent | August 01, 2011
"To increase the use of products and materials that disclose chemical ingredient data and reduce the concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health, productivity, and the environment." So reads the intent statement of a new LEED credit proposal released today by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The credit represents an important advance for the LEED system in bringing healthy materials to building projects, encouraging both content disclosure and screening for chemicals of concern. The new credit, entitled "Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern in Building Materials" would reward building projects with one point toward LEED certification if 20% of all building products and materials, by cost, have a publicly available list of ingredients and do not include California Proposition 65 chemicals in their contents.
The USGBC released the proposed credit today as part of the second public comment draft for LEED 2012. The draft LEED release includes other important advances in materials selection addressing Extended Producer Responsibility (manufacturers taking responsibility for proper recycling of products at the end of life), responsible sourcing (to start to bring some scrutiny to mining and other extraction practices), VOC emissions testing for many more interior finish products, and a number of the toxics credits that were introduced in LEED-HC (mercury reduction in lamps, lead/cadmium/copper reduction, furniture ). There are a few material credits that are likely to warrant some more careful attention in this public comment period, including one that rewards use of biobased materials without scrutiny to the sustainability of their harvest beyond screening for legality, and the continued effort to find the right way to bring LCA into LEED.
Kudos to the USGBC for this major effort to tackle health and other important sustainability measures in material selection. The USGBC is seeking public comment through September 14. We will be commenting further on these credits, suggesting ways to make them even more effective, as we assess them over the next few weeks. In the meantime, download the proposed new credits on the LEED 2012 Rating System Draft page. Find more analysis and join the discussion of these and more credits in LEEDUser and find out more on the comment process on the LEED Rating System Development page.