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ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 126 - 09/23/2011

LEED 2012 to Include Changes to Materials & Resources Credit Category

“LEED 2012,” the next update to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program, will include revisions to the Materials & Resources (MR) credit category. The organization, which closed the second public comment period for the update Sept. 14, hopes to launch LEED 2012 in early November of next year, USGBC spokesperson Ashley Katz toldGreen Building Insider.

 

The MR credit category, which is designed to address waste reduction while improving the environmental impact of materials selection and waste disposal, will feature an increased focus on the application of life-cycle assessment (LCA). USGBC considers LCA a powerful analytical technique for assessing environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product’s life, from extraction, manufacture, use, reuse, and disposal.

 

“By encouraging the use of LCA in LEED, we’re encouraging project teams to use analytical tools that are based on information about resource flows through our environmental as well as economic systems,” said Brendan Owens, USGBC’s vice president of LEED technical development. “Our expectation is that project teams will make more informed decisions as a result. While LCA has limitations, it does a number of things very well, and it is one of the best ways conduct trade-off analysis to guide decisions about the specification of products.”

 

In addition to LCA, USGBC said that it has added new MR credits that encourage project teams to specify materials that have been sourced responsibly as well as products screened to assess the impacts the product might have on human health on a local and global level.

To encourage increased transparency of information about products, a new credit rewards the use of materials for which environmental product declarations (EPDs) have been made. This practice encourages product manufacturers to engage in disclosure activities that provide building-product specifiers and procurement officials with consistent and complete information about their products. Increased transparency around product attributes enables more informed decisions about product specification, according to USGBC.

 

“As a whole, it’s critical we move toward understanding the impacts our building materials have relative to extraction, manufacturing, use, and disposal over a product’s lifetime,” Owens said. “The goals we’ve set for LEED are achieved when we reward building designers and operators who specify the best-performing products from an environmental-impact standpoint.”

 

USGBC believes that use of MR credits around EPDs, responsible raw-material sourcing, and avoidance of chemicals of concern will benefit manufacturers of building materials. “Additionally, LEED credits that heavily incentivize the use of building products sourced and manufactured in close proximity to the project that already comply with various best practices and regulations will allow their products to stand out regionally as well as globally.”

 

Integrated Process and Performance Credit Categories

After thousands of write-in comments in the first public-comment period, changes are expected for existing LEED credit categories and two new credit categories, Integrated Process and Performance.

“The Integrated Process credit category highlights the importance of the use of iterative, inclusionary process in the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of green projects,” Katz said. “The Performance credit category highlights the importance of ongoing operational performance in LEED projects. Credits that deal with performance measurement and verification will be reorganized into this category and are intended to be a natural link to USGBC’s Building Performance Partnership. The scope of this category includes, but is not limited to, metering, commissioning, and utility consumption data reporting.

 

Primers for each of these categories can be accessed athttp://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=2309(Integrated Process) andhttp://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=2316(Performance).

 

Katz said she is unable to provide estimates about the number of people and/or projects that are expected to use the new credits/credit categories that will be added to LEED 2012 or about the expected average cost premiums for meeting the standards established by these new credits.
 
Regarding LEED 2012, “we expect the updated rating systems to be available for ballot after three public comment and response periods, around the fourth quarter of [next year],” Katz said. “As the process progresses, we will better be able to anticipate an exact launch date, but we’re aiming for Greenbuild 2012,” which is scheduled for Nov. 7-10, 2012.

 

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