News Analysis

USGBC Releases Final Report on PVC Avoidance

The Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the U.S. Green Building Council has found that that evidence does not support an anti-PVC credit in the LEED rating system.

March 6, 2007

On February 26, 2007, the Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its long-awaited report on whether evidence supports an anti-PVC credit in the LEED® Rating System (proposed seven years ago). The basic conclusion, that available evidence does not support a simple, across-the-board policy of avoiding PVC in building products, hasn’t changed since TSAC’s draft report was issued in 2005 (see EBN Vol. 14, No. 1).

The report’s authors (including EBN editor Nadav Malin, who serves on TSAC’s PVC task group) used a combination of life-cycle assessment and risk assessment to quantify the environmental and human health impacts of a range of materials. Of the four applications studied, windows, pipe, siding, and resilient flooring, only in the last category were PVC products—vinyl composition tile and sheet vinyl—consistently the worst performers. For example, cast-iron pipe performed worse than PVC pipe in spite of its high recycled content. Its performance was problematic largely due to emissions from converting coal to coke, which is used as a fuel in iron foundries.