A Brave New Green Building World: LEED Certified Products

When I give green building presentations, I make it a point to explain that the LEED rating system does not certify products.

I'm not going to be making that statement anymore.

Two weeks ago, the US Green Building Council announced the launch of LEED Pilot Credit 43: Certified Products (PDF).  As you might have guessed from the name, the pilot credit allows projects to obtain LEED credits if products meeting specific certifications are included.  Here's the credit requirement (PDF): 

Specify and install non-structural products and materials with attributes described below for a weighted value of at least 10% of the total value of all non-structural materials and products. ISO Type I and III Declarations qualify for this credit. Compliant certifications are those consistent with the draft LEED Standard for Standards.

In short, this credit allows projects to obtain LEED points if at least 10 percent of the non-structural products are certified.  Immediately upon reading about this credit, I wondered if it would apply to wood certifications. The USGBC has been embroiled in a long-standing feud regarding its recognition of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products.  Other wood certification systems, most notably the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), have been pressing for similar recognition.

The LEED Pilot Credit is a convenient way for the USGBC to recognize other wood certifications.  In the appendix to the pilot credit, four new wood product certifications, including SFI, are recognized.  Although this pilot credit only applies to non-structural products, this change could provide a transition to structural wood products as well.  It's interesting that the USGBC decided to create this LEED Pilot Credit a few months after its members rejected a credit that tried to expand recognized wood certifications.

Even more important, this LEED Pilot Credit means that the USGBC is becoming more involved in certifying products. With many more product and material certifications available for LEED credits, it seems the process of LEED certification will become much more complicated.

What do you think?

Photo credit: chrislang

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Carolynne White - July 5, 2011 2:04 PM

This is a significant undertaking by the USGBC, considering the vast number of products claiming to be "green" in one way or another. I wonder if a master list of pre-certified products or third-party certifications will emerge? And how will USGBC staff this effort?

Chris Cheatham - July 5, 2011 2:08 PM

Carolynne,

Check out the appendix to the PDF linked above. There are dozens of product certifications that have already been recognized.

Chris

Bill Eklund - July 5, 2011 8:08 PM

It is not really different then the current requirements for product data labeling. It is not LEED certifying products. It is merely clarifying and providing weighting for certain product labeling. USGBC will never certify products because I believe there will be too much of a conflict of interest. I think I will apply for the credit on a project i am working on to see the results.

Chris Cheatham - July 6, 2011 10:28 AM

Bill - to me there is a very thin line between directly certifying a product, and certifying a certification that directly certifies a product. Isn't the USGBC basically signing off on any product that satisfies one of the approved certification labels?

Bill Eklund - July 6, 2011 8:42 PM

No difference then the Labeling programs they already approve, Green Label, Floor Score, Greenguard, FSC, etc...

Jay - July 7, 2011 2:40 PM

Hopefully a more complicated process of approval will mean a more rigorous and prestigious one?

George - July 7, 2011 3:20 PM

Chris - have you heard the UL Environmental bought Greenguard? I wonder if now (or int eh near future) we can get a UL listing for green?

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