The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) pilot credit—Building Material Human Hazard & Exposure Assessment, which encourages project teams and manufacturers to assess human health related exposure scenarios for products during their installation and use phases.
“LEED v4, the latest version of the LEED green building system, has begun a shift in how we think about health and building materials,” said Scot Horst, chief product officer, USGBC. “We have a focus on transparency and optimization so specifiers can know what they are using and can reward innovation. But understanding how a material impacts human health requires a full understanding of hazard and exposure. The new pilot credit is a first step toward evaluating exposure by encouraging product inventories in order to prioritize decision making.”
The pilot credit seeks to reward manufacturers who perform hazard and exposure assessments that can serve as a basis for developing products designed to minimize human health impacts during installation and use of the products. These assessments can, in turn, be an important consideration for alternative assessment of building materials. By requiring exposure to be considered during product development, this pilot begins to make linkages between the product’s ingredient inventory and hazard assessment required by the existing Materials Ingredients credit and performance testing required by LEED’s Low Emitting Materials credits.
The Hazard & Exposure pilot credit continues USGBC’s work to advance LEED users’ knowledge and understanding of the materials used to build and operate buildings. USGBC’s ultimate aim is that project teams have a full and complete picture of building materials and products—all in one place—which will help enable transparent, informed decisions around important attributes of materials and products used in our offices, homes, schools and other structures.
This pilot credit was developed by USGBC in conjunction with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and its members, as part of the partnership announced in 2014. The partnership was established to expand collaboration between suppliers and specifiers, leverage scientific expertise and make LEED a more effective tool to deliver positive economic, environmental and social outcomes. This initiative acknowledges USGBC’s success in leading the transformation of the built environment and sets up a pathway to take advantage of the materials science expertise of ACC and its members.
“ACC welcomes the new pilot credit, which rewards products that have undergone rigorous and scientific hazard and exposure assessments,” says Debra M. Phillips, vice president, ACC. “Through Responsible Care, ACC members support scientific and systematic approaches to managing and continuously improving the safety of their products. ACC members also undertake third-party verification of their systems and approaches. This new credit brings such a scientific, systematic and third-party validated approach to the important issue of health.”
All USGBC members are eligible to submit pilot credits for consideration; pilot credits are evaluated based on applicability to the goals of LEED, relative impact compared to other LEED credits or pilot credits, technical rigor and achievability.
“Today, exposure information and the assumptions that go into it aren’t required to be shared by manufacturers,” added Horst. “This new pilot credit will facilitate information sharing that will help us guide future credit writing.”
To fulfill the credit requirements, LEED projects must submit product documentation from manufacturers, including calculations and assumptions, to GBCI, the third-party verification body for LEED. This information will be combined with data from other ongoing pilots and credits and synthesized by USGBC and GBCI to inform technical development of this pilot and other materials-related LEED credits.
Green construction is a large economic driver. According to the 2015 USGBC Green Building Economic Impact Study, green construction will account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs—more than one-third of the entire U.S. construction sector—and generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings. The industry’s direct contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is also expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015 to 2018.
For more information, visit usgbc.org/LEED.