Remember 2013? LEED version 4 had just been released to the public. Hardly anyone was using it, though—not only because they didn’t have to, but also because there just wasn’t a pathway to achieve many of the new credits in the rating systems. Especially the product-related credits in the Materials & Resources category, along with the Low-Emitting Materials credit.
“You could spend days searching for EPDs [environmental product declarations],” said Ryan O’Neill, project manager at green building consulting firm Above Green.
“You would hear silence on the other line,” agreed his colleague Chris DeJulis, chief operating officer at the company. Now that LEED v4 has had time to take hold in the marketplace, things are “One thousand percent better,” he said. (Disclosure: BuildingGreen partners with Above Green as a service provider for its live chat feature on LEEDuser.)
In 2013, things looked different from a forward-thinking manufacturer’s perspective. “We really kind of dove in head first,” said Amy Musanti, business development director–sustainability, at ASSA ABLOY. “In the beginning, it was all about trying to complete as many as possible, mostly EPDs” because there was more demand for them, she said.
But there were many laggards until more recently, well after all projects had to begin registering under LEED v4 in 2016.
“Manufacturers have started to accept the challenge and issue EPDs and HPDs [Health Product Declarations] for their materials,” said Mohammad Abbasi, Assoc. AIA, building performance analyst at WSP. “All of the new construction projects in the U.S. should be able to achieve [Building Product Disclosure and Optimization] transparency options with almost no premium on capital costs.”
“It still hasn’t trickled down to some of the specialty products,” though, warned DeJulis. “For small manufacturers and custom products, it’s still hard to find information. … Even with environmentally friendly products,” he said, manufacturers “may not have the resources to pay for EPDs.”
With the paucity of products in the marketplace, said Drew Shula, Assoc. AIA, founder and principal at Verdical Group, very few projects were pursuing material-related credits at all—but that’s changed dramatically with the introduction of the LEED v4.1 beta, he claimed. Shula added, “The big manufacturers out there in the building market all have [documentation] now; they are competing against one another. That’s cool because it means LEED is working to change the product market.”
But how do you get an adequate understanding of these material-related requirements and start selecting products? In this report, we’ll go credit by credit, explaining the basics in both v4 and v4.1, along with some of the details to watch out for. We’ll also explain some of the best ways to search for products that meet the requirements, and we’ll talk a bit about how to manage all the data once you’ve found it.
Note that LEED v4 projects are able to substitute an unlimited number of equivalent v4.1 credits.