Please upgrade your browser. This site requires a newer version to work correctly. Read more

Maturing the market one EPD at a time

Published on Written by Posted in LEED

Over the past decade, building industry professionals have worked to transform our industry — minimizing the negative impacts and maximizing the positive impacts associated with buildings. USGBC’s launch of LEED v4 in November 2013 marked the next step in the transformation journey the buildings industry has been engaged in since the inaugural version of LEED was released in 2000.

LEED v4’s revised Materials and Resources credit category is based on the market mechanisms LEED has successfully leveraged in the past but also introduces several new and novel requirements focused on transparency. This includes an integrative life cycle based framework to help practitioners make more informed decisions when considering materials used to construct and operate buildings by encouraging manufacturers to disclose more about the materials that make up their products.

In the decade preceding the launch of LEED v4, the transformations and innovations that have occurred were largely decentralized. The organic nature of the market activity allowed product manufacturers to engage substantively in the creation of a broad range of tools. The trade-off, however, was significant market confusion and a market that was very slow to mature.

Along with the launch of LEED v4, USGBC and UL Environment announced a partnership focused on accelerating the development and availability of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for building products to provide relevant, verified and comparable information about the environmental impact of goods and services. This partnership acknowledges and responds to lessons learned from the buildings product industry transformation over the last ten years.

Together, we are developing tools to increase the usefulness, consistency, quality and coherence of EPDs produced by manufacturers interested in supplying materials to project teams seeking LEED certification.

The Materials and Resources category of LEED v4 further supports the evolution of the market with a series of requirements written with a clear direction in intended outcomes while recognizing the challenge ahead for LEED project teams and building product manufacturers. The resulting credits, such as the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Environmental Product Declarations, includes a tiered organization. This tiered approach recognizes the state of the products market today and locates stretch requirements which would likely take a naturally progressing industry many years to reach.

The USGBC-UL Environment partnership is unique but it does not preclude or diminish the applicability of EPDs produced by other program operators that comply with the requirements delineated in LEED v4. All v4 compliant EPDs produced by manufacturers working with credible program operators help a project team earn LEED points.

LEED v4 builds on past successes to push the industry forward. The life cycle based approach is the starting point from which we will learn and evolve. This continuous improvement/transformation mindset is central to the goals USGBC has for the buildings industry — LEED v4 is our collective next step.


  • 2
    Sarah Buffaloe made 2 contributions in the last 6 months

Sarah Buffaloe

Materials and Resources Subject Matter Expert U.S. Green Building Council
USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
iOS App on App StoreAndroid app on Google Play

4 commentsLeave a comment

UL Environment
UL Environment publishes a list of all the EPD's we have issued. You can search it at:
UL Environment
UL Environment publishes a list of all the EPD's we have issued. You can search it at:
Director / Consultant, Gryphon Project Design and Management
does anyone produce a list of company's that have EPDs for their products?
LEED Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi James, that would be a hard list to keep up. Since it has become better known, more manufacturers are participating every day. If you have a question about a specific product, you will have to ask the manufacturer.

Leave a comment Don't have an account? Create one

You must be signed in to leave a comment.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on LinkedIn
In LEED 11.19.2015

Harvard breaks LEED record

In LEED 11.19.2015

LEED v4 O+M: Multifamily approved by USGBC membership

In LEED 11.17.2015

Live. Learn. Work. Play. LEED. [video]

In LEED 11.16.2015

LEED v4 education suites: Sign up today