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