Understanding Materials Transparency in LEEDv4

by / Friday, 27 December 2013 / Published in Green Building Consulting

The Materials and Human Health Summit provided a good explanation of the approach that LEED v4 is taking with regard to materials transparency in LEEDv4. (See my previous post, Tension at the Materials and Human Health Summit? for more on the event).

In place of the controversial LEED Pilot Credit 54 that ignited some of the animosity between the American Chemistry Council and USGBC, LEEDv4 will include MRc4: Building Material Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients: Option 2, Material Ingredient Optimization.

In MR4: Option 2, Material Ingredient Optimization, LEED rewards teams that choose products documenting materials “optimization”–or avoidance of chemicals associated with health effects–through any of the following paths:

materials transparency in LEEDv4

GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmarks

While both the GreenScreen Benchmark and REACH approaches require manufacturers to provide a level of ingredient disclosure to the marketplace, Cradle to Cradle only requires ingredient disclosure to C2C Institute staff.

This has some green builders wondering whether these options set up even playing field. How do we compare a Cradle to Cradle Gold product with a product that has disclosed all its ingredients using the GreenScreen Benchmarking system?

The good news for green builders (and the public) is that all these paths use the same methods to assess material hazards.

The GreenScreen Benchmarking system, Cradle to Cradle Certifications, and the Health Product Declaration are all aligned in their methodology for assessing hazards in building materials. At their core, they assess chemicals using the GreenScreen.

materials transparency in LEED

Cradle to Cradle Certification

So whether a company chooses to disclose ingredients to the public or screen them through a third party, we know that the approved programs for materials transparency in LEEDv4 are all assessing material safety using the same set of principles.

It remains to be seen whether manufacturers will flock to Cradle to Cradle to protect their proprietary edge, or if they will choose to disclose using the GreenScreen and HPDs. But as a LEED practitioner, it is great to know that either way, products are being held to the same chemical screening standards.

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