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LEED BD+C: New Construction | v4 - LEED v4

Building product disclosure and optimization - material ingredients

Possible 2 points


4 years 42 weeks ago

Herve Moal

Herve Moal director Astrance wich is a Building Certification consultancy firm in France; we work today in 5 Leed Projects

I am writing to encourage the USGBC to include Declare as a compliance pathway for this credit. Declare should be included because:

Declare meets the intent of the credit by providing an accessible resource for products selected through a rigorous methodology that promotes healthy materials minimizing harmful substances.

Declare requires public disclosure of greater than 99% of ALL intentionally added ingredients. (the remaining 1% that is allowed to remain proprietary cannot be on the Living Building Challenge Red list)

The Red List on which Declare is based is similar to the C2C banned list and Green Screen Benchmark which are the basis of approved programs.

Declare lists all ingredients in each product, not just Living Building Challenge Red List ingredients. It then identifies any of those ingredients that are on the Red List, US EPA Chemical of Concern Action Plan Published List, or the European Registration Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) Substances of Very High Concern. All ingredients including CASRN are disclosed on the Declare website.

Declare already has a substantial and growing list of products that LEED teams can select from to ensure this pilot credit is achievable and successful in promoting the selection of products that have chemical ingredients inventoried and have minimized the generation of harmful substances.

Full disclosure is critical for an open and honest conversation between consumer and suppliers. Transparency moves the conversation past green washing and rewards companies that are willing to be honest about their product formulations. Declare is the only program with a requirement for full public disclosure.

Thanks for all the hard work!
Best regards

Hervé Moal

4 years 42 weeks ago

Justin Curtis


The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) submits these comments on MR Credit 4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients in the Sixth Draft of LEED v4. RFCI is a non-profit trade association that represents manufacturers of vinyl composition tile, vinyl tile, sheet vinyl, rubber, and linoleum flooring products and suppliers of raw materials, additives, and sundry flooring products (e.g. adhesives) for the North American market. The RFCI membership list is included as Attachment A. RFCI has been a member of U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) since January of 2006 and one of our members, Armstrong World Industries, Inc., is a charter member of USGBC since its founding in 1993.
On March 1, 2013, USGBC issued its Sixth Public Comment Draft of the next version of the LEED Green Building Rating System. USGBC has included an unjustified material avoidance credit in each draft since the second one. The form of this credit and range of products it would affect has changed considerably from draft to draft, but the common denominator is that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) building materials containing phthalate plasticizers, including vinyl flooring, have been targeted for deselection in each draft. Interested parties have raised a host of concerns about the unjustified single-attribute hazard-based approach to material avoidance employed by these credits.
Unfortunately, the Sixth Draft retains the deeply flawed MR Credit 4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients from the Fifth Draft with largely inconsequential changes. The credit contains three compliance options, each worth one point. Any two of the options can be satisfied for a maximum of two points to be earned for the credit.
A. Option 1: Material Ingredient Reporting
RFCI supports the intent of Option 1, which rewards the use of products that have published ingredient lists, provided it includes reasonable disclosure levels and protection for proprietary information. To achieve the broadest possible participation by manufacturers, we urge USGBC to adopt the two-tiered OSHA hazard communication standard—a standard that manufacturers are familiar with. This standard would establish a 1% (10,000 ppm) ingredient disclosure threshold for most chemicals and a .1% (1,000 ppm) threshold for higher hazard chemicals such as carcinogens and mutagens. USGBC’s most recent response to RFCI’s proposal to utilize this two-tiered reporting system was merely to point out that the .1% threshold is more lenient than is required by GreenScreen and Cradle to Cradle. However, those systems are not consensus-based standards and were not developed by an authoritative body like OSHA.
B. Option 2: Material Ingredient Optimization
Option 2 is a red list-based material avoidance credit for plasticized PVC products based on the use of GreenScreen, Cradle to Cradle, and REACH as red lists. No matter how USGBC attempts to characterize this Option as not being a material avoidance credit, it fails because no plasticized PVC product, including vinyl flooring, would qualify for the credit under any of the referenced red lists.
In previous comments, RFCI has strongly advocated that USGBC adhere to the findings of its own PVC Task Group, which rejected the use of a PVC avoidance credit in LEED in 2007. In its most recent responses to comments, USGBC rejected reliance on this report because it was “technical” in nature, not “policy.” However, a thorough review of the USGBC record demonstrates that this response is inaccurate. In May of 2007, the LEED Steering Committee (LSC)—USGBC’s policymaking body for LEED development—adopted the findings and recommendations of PVC Task Group in a policy statement. Adhering to this policy, the LSC rejected the addition of a PVC avoidance credit to the LEED for Healthcare rating system in 2008. The policy has never been withdrawn.
In addition, the LSC adopted policy recommendations for USGBC to incorporate more life cycle assessment into LEED decision making and to make greater use of risk assessment because it is more robust than simple pass/fail screening tools. The material avoidance credit in Option 2 contravenes these two policy recommendations because if LCA is properly considered, PVC materials, and particularly vinyl flooring, perform as favorably as non-PVC products, and in many cases are superior. The material avoidance option is not based on risk assessment and instead incorporates programs (e.g. GreenScreen, Cradle to Cradle, and the REACH SVHC list) which in essence are simply disfavored pass/fail screening tools based solely on hazard.
Furthermore, USGBC’s assertion that health-based concerns about dioxin emissions justify the credit is consistent with the PVC Task Group’s findings only if the emissions from end-of-life PVC building materials are near the high end of the range of uncertainty. However, USGBC never followed the Task Group’s recommendations to conduct further study to more accurately estimate the level of dioxin emissions. If USGBC were to conduct the recommended data gathering, it likely would find that dioxin emissions from PVC building products, particularly vinyl flooring, are at the lower end of the range due to new regulatory requirements, changed industry operations, increased recycling, and the presence of dioxin formation-inhibiting limestone in vinyl flooring. Therefore, USGBC’s end-of-life dioxin justification for Option 2 is inadequate and unsupported. Moreover, the authoritative BEES LCA system developed by the National Institute of Science and Technology shows that vinyl composition tile has a lower health and environmental impact than 12 alternative flooring products, including linoleum, ceramic tile with recycled glass, and carpet.
The three red lists proposed by USGBC in Option 2 should not be included in any credit in LEED v4 because:
• GreenScreen is an untested non-consensus-based standard that relies on over a hundred different red lists from various sources to screen out material ingredients based solely on hazard. This overly complicated system is presently operating with its methodology in “draft” form, and its assessment program is only now being pilot tested by its two accredited assessors.
• Cradle to Cradle is a proprietary certification standard maintained by a USGBC insider that uses vague, non-objective, and arbitrary criteria to decide whether a product is “contrary to the intent of the Cradle to Cradle principles” or chemical ingredients are included on a “Banned List” that improperly includes PVC and phthalates. USGBC should follow its LSC recommendation in 2007 that non-transparent proprietary systems, such as Cradle to Cradle, not be adopted for use in LEED. At the very least, because of the close connection between the Cradle to Cradle developer and USGBC, the council should critically examine that relationship and the report the findings to the USGBC membership before submitting any credit including Cradle to Cradle to a membership ballot.
• The REACH substances of very high concern (SVHC) list is a list of chemicals identified for further evaluation and possible use restrictions. Products containing such chemicals are not automatically banned or restricted under REACH without an opportunity to demonstrate that the product itself does not present a significant risk. Indeed, E.U. regulators recently concluded that a proposed restriction on the use of four SVHC phthalates (including BBP used in vinyl flooring) in indoor products was not warranted because there was no demonstrated risk of harmful human exposure from the product itself.
The use of red lists to deselect products containing listed chemicals is a fundamentally flawed approach to materials selection decisions. The mere presence of a red-listed chemical in a product does not mean that persons using the product will be exposed to the chemical at a health significant level. Product avoidance should only occur if a risk assessment analysis shows that users of that product would be harmfully exposed to the red-listed chemical. USGBC’s simple hazard-based approach is akin to warning people to avoid a city because it contains lions without adding that the animals are safely sheltered at the zoo.
The Option 2 material avoidance credit point is irreparably flawed. It must be withdrawn from LEED v4. At a minimum, USGBC should complete and fully review Pilot Credit 77, which mirrors Option 2, before giving any further consideration to including this in a standing credit.
C. Option 3: Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization
RFCI believes that Option 3 is impractical and unworkable because it requires third-party verification that the suppliers of building material manufacturers have implemented six poorly defined environmental, health, and safety “processes.” It is unclear what these six processes actually require and, most importantly, we are unaware of any certification systems that have adequate third-party assessment infrastructure to provide verification of compliance with this Option.
The purpose of Option 1 of the Proposed Material Ingredients Credit is to increase openness and transparency regarding the composition of building products. RFCI supports this goal. As we stated in our previous comments, however, a few targeted revisions to this Option would encourage greater participation by product manufacturers without detracting from its transparency objective.
Option 1 awards a point if at least 20 permanently installed products from at least five different manufacturers disclose the inventory of all chemicals found in the products at or above concentrations of .1% (1,000 ppm) . A manufacturer can meet this disclosure requirement by: (1) publishing its own inventory of chemical ingredients identified by Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number (CASRN) and/or, for chemicals that are deemed confidential business information, identifying the chemicals’ role, amount, and GreenScreen List Translator Benchmark 1 and Possible Benchmark 1 hazards; (2) completing a Health Product Declaration for the product in compliance with the Health Product Declaration Open Standard; (3) obtaining a Cradle to Cradle v2 Silver Level certification; or (4) complying with an additional material ingredient reporting program that USGBC approves in the future for use with this credit.
The first compliance option would allow manufacturers of eligible products to publish their own chemicals ingredients lists. For purposes of this credit, we support identifying the ingredients in products provided the ingredients are not proprietary in nature and a reasonable de minimis reporting threshold is set. A goal of this credit should be to maximize product manufacturer participation in the disclosure scheme, which will increase the amount of information available to LEED users and other consumers. Accordingly, it is important that this credit be technically feasible and not unnecessarily expensive.
To ensure feasibility and avoid unnecessary expense, we explained in our comments on the Fifth Draft that Option 1 that the first compliance option:
• should make clear that the chemical inventory disclosure requirement applies to intentionally added ingredients and byproducts, impurities and any other product constituents that a manufacturer reasonably knows is present based on process chemistry (i.e. familiarity with raw material inputs and chemical reactions occurring during manufacturing process) and customary product development and quality control testing;
• should not use the one-size-fits-all .1% (1,000 ppm) disclosure threshold which is too low in many cases, unnecessary, and unduly burdensome; and
• should use a two-tiered chemical reporting system based on the ingredient’s degree of hazard which the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses in its Hazard Communication standards. 77 Fed. Reg. 17574 (Mar. 26, 2012) (to be codified at 29 C.F.R.).
Under our proposed approach, a 1% (10,000 ppm) disclosure threshold would apply to product ingredients that are within an OSHA hazard class for which the relevant OSHA disclosure threshold is 1% or does not fall within an OSHA hazard class, and a .1% (1,000 ppm) disclosure threshold would apply to those ingredients for higher hazard classes (i.e. carcinogens, reproductive toxins, certain respiratory and skin sensitizers, and category 1A/B mutagens).
USGBC’s sole response to RFCI’s suggestion to increase the reporting threshold in this Option for non-hazardous substances is: “The reporting threshold of 1000 ppm is already more lenient than what is required by the other referenced programs [i.e. GreenScreen and Cradle to Cradle]. USGBC feels this is an appropriate threshold for reporting information on ingredients.” 5th PC Comments with Responses, at row 385. However, neither GreenScreen or Cradle to Cradle is a consensus-based standard that was developed by a recognized authoritative body after input from all interested parties and meaningful response to that input, as we explain in detail in Section III.B. In contrast, OSHA is an expert agency in matters of worker health and safety and developed the two-tiered reporting system after years of consideration and input from hundreds of interested parties across the whole spectrum of interests (e.g. unions to product manufacturers). Most importantly, LEED’s adoption of the OSHA two-tiered reporting system would facilitate greater participation from product manufacturers, particularly because they have worked under the OSHA hazard communication reporting system for many years. By encouraging ingredient inventories to be available for a greater number of products, the OSHA approach would provide more useful information to consumers than they would get from having more detailed ingredient reports but from fewer products.
In the December 10, 2012 comments, RFCI commented on the other compliance options for Option 1. We explained why the Health Product Declaration second compliance option is fundamentally flawed because: (1) it was not developed through a consensus-based, transparent process, which is why it has been labeled as an “open standard;” (2) it requires the review of 32 different lists of chemicals and is based on the principle that a chemical contained in a building product may present a hazard “regardless of the disclosure level” even though there may be no risk associated with the product based on exposure considerations (e.g. inaccessibility, de minimis concentrations); and (3) the Residuals Disclosure levels are set at 100 ppm, which is not only impractical but also potentially cost-prohibitive due to the expense and availability of sufficiently sensitive testing equipment. We further explained why the third compliance option should be eliminated because Cradle to Cradle is an inappropriate proprietary standard that should not be used in the LEED system. We also urged that the fourth “open ended” compliance option, at the very least, be substantially modified to include specified criteria and procedures for adopting a new Option 1 program, including vetting such program through the pilot credit library and approving its permanent adoption through the LEED ballot process. Finally, we explained that the Option 1 credit should expressly acknowledge that the mere presence of particular chemicals in a product does not necessarily mean that the product itself poses any adverse human health or environmental risk without considering exposure and other risk assessment factors associated with the use of a product. We renew our request for these changes to be included.
Unfortunately and significantly, USGBC did not respond to any of these comments and did not explain why they were not adopted in the Sixth Draft. It is hard to imagine how LEED can be considered a consensus-based standard when there is no procedure for responding to substantive comments and providing a rational and supportable basis for making final decisions. We renew our request that the changes and deletions we have carefully and convincingly sought for Option 1 be included in the ballot draft of LEED v4.
Since before the formation of the PVC Task Group in 2002, there has been a push by certain elements of USGBC’s membership to incorporate a PVC avoidance credit into LEED. The PVC Task Group concluded in 2007 that such credits were unwarranted and its findings were adopted as policy by the LEED Steering Committee. Based on these findings and policy determinations, subsequent efforts to create permanent PVC avoidance credits were rightfully rejected. An example of this policy being applied was the handling of the proposed LEED for Healthcare MR Credit 4.1: PBT Elimination: Dioxins and Halogenated Compounds, which targeted products such as PVC flooring, pipes, and electrical wiring for deselection. The LEED Steering Committee prudently directed the TSAC to review this credit for consistency with the PVC Task Group’s report. As a result, the credit was removed from the LEED for Healthcare draft and instead diverted into the Pilot Credit library (where it was closed on March 1, 2012).
The thoughtful LEED development process that recognized the PBT Elimination credit for what it was—an unjustified PVC avoidance credit—has broken down with respect to Option 2: Material Ingredient Optimization. This Option is nothing more than an anti-PVC material avoidance credit buried within overcomplicated credit language presented euphemistically as material “optimization.” One point is earned for this Option if at least 25%, by cost, of a project’s building materials meet any of the following criteria: (1) all material ingredients are inventoried to 0.01% (100 ppm) and determined to contain no GreenScreen Benchmark 1 hazards; (2) product has been certified by Cradle to Cradle; (3) product contains no substances that “meet the criteria” for inclusion on the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) substances of very high concern list; or (4) product complies with a building product optimization program subsequently approved by USGBC. Each of these criteria represents an alternative way to target PVC.
The many problems with this Option, and material avoidance credits in general, have been detailed by RFCI and other commenters in each of the past four drafts of LEED 2012/v4 since a material avoidance credit was first introduced in the second draft. In these comments on the Sixth Draft, RFCI focuses on two issues that are particularly relevant to this credit. First, USGBC continues to disregard and marginalize the results of its own five-year evaluation of a PVC avoidance credit, not to mention the reasonable policy decisions it made in response to that study. Second, the decision to rely on GreenScreen, Cradle to Cradle, and REACH for satisfying Option 2 is premature, infeasible, and unworkable.
A. Option 2 Contravenes The Policy Decisions Made By The LEED Steering Committee In Response To The Findings And The Scientific Determinations Of The PVC Task Group
RFCI and other commenters have been steadfastly relying on the findings and recommendations of the 2007 Assessment of the Technical Basis for a PVC-Related Materials Credit for LEED (PVC Report) to demonstrate that it is inappropriate and premature for USGBC to shoehorn a PVC material avoidance credit into LEED. In its response to RFCI’s comments on this credit in the Fifth Draft, USGBC dismissed the PVC Report, stating, “The TSAC’s findings are technical in nature and not determinative of USGBC policy.” 5th PC Comments with Responses, at row 499. This response is extremely troubling and inaccurate for two reasons. First, in essence, it states that USGBC’s insistence on including a material avoidance credit in LEED v4 is based on “policy” rather than any “technical” justification for the credit. Second, this statement completely mistates the fact that the PVC Report was one step in a larger policymaking process and that its findings were in fact adopted by the USGBC’s designated policy-setting body, the LEED Steering Committee (LSC).
In November 2002, USGBC’s LSC requested that the Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) establish a PVC Task Group to assist in evaluating the grounds for a PVC-related credit in the LEED rating system. For more than four years, the PVC Task Group conducted a study of four applications: siding, piping, resilient flooring, and window frames. The environmental and health attributes of products in these categories were compared to non-PVC alternatives. The review drew upon approximately 2,500 studies and other sources of data which led to a draft report being issued in December 2004. In response to public comments on the draft, the TSAC expanded its evaluation of the studied product categories to determine whether accidental landfill fires and backyard burning during the end-of-life phase of the studied products constituted a significant source of dioxin emissions. The final Report, Assessment of the Technical Basis for a PVC-Related Materials Credit for LEED (PVC Report), was published on February 26, 2007. The report was thorough, consisting of 90 pages of analysis followed by 13 appendices with supplementary technical and scientific information. It contained a number of significant conclusions and recommendations regarding whether the USGBC should adopt a PVC material avoidance credit. It also identified a number of critical data gaps, particularly with respect to dioxin emissions from the end-of-life phase of PVC building materials. We are not aware of any additional research or studies that have been completed to address these data gaps. Thus, the PVC Report remains the best evidence available to USGBC for evaluating any proposal to include a PVC material avoidance credit into LEED.
Significantly, the PVC Task Group concluded that “no single material shows up as the best across all the human health and environmental impact categories, nor as the worst.” PVC Report at 9. Even more importantly, the Task Group warned against the “blunt instrument . . . of materials-based credits inadvertently steering decision makers to replace one high-negative impact material with another.” Id. at 12. The PVC Report found that any environmental and health differences observed between the PVC products and the non-PVC products in the four categories evaluated were insufficient to justify a materials-avoidance credit for any of the categories evaluated. Instead, the PVC Task Group recommended incentivizing the substitution of problematic materials with others that are “demonstrably better with regard to environmental and human health impacts over their life cycles.” Id. The Task Group considered materials avoidance credits problematic because they could lead to the use of worse-performing products, and the TSAC therefore encouraged the use of such credits only for “demonstrably better” products based on life cycle analyses for health and environmental impacts.
On the date the final PVC Report was issued—February 26, 2007—the USGBC Board of Directors issued a memorandum stating that the LSC would review the report and prepare policy recommendations in accordance with the “TSAC Review Procedures for Specific Issues.” Several weeks later on May 14, 2007, the LSC—USGBC’s designated policy-setting body—issued a memorandum titled “LEED Steering Committee Proposed Policy Recommendations Relating to the Report Issues in February 2007 entitled ‘Assessment of the Technical Basis for a PVC-Related Materials Avoidance Credit for LEED’” (PVC Policy). As set forth in the TSAC Review Procedures, the recommendations were to be ratified by the USGBC Board of Directors and then posted to the USGBC website. Id. The recommendations were posted to the website shortly thereafter and remain posted to this day. There has been no public indication, such as a meeting minutes entry or a press release, that the LSC or Board of Directors have ever withdrawn or repudiated the recommendations. Accordingly, the PVC Policy remains today as official USGBC policy.
Based on the findings in the PVC Report, the LSC adopted two PVC-specific policy recommendations and five general policy recommendations. The first PVC-specific policy recommendation, which is not reconcilable with Option 2 of MR Credit 4, provides:
1. Response to the Charge: The LSC charged TSAC with: “…reviewing the evidence offered by stakeholders and independent sources, and advising the LEED Steering Committee on the availability and quality of evidence as a basis for a reasoned decision about the inclusion of a PVC-related credit in the LEED rating system.” Based on the information in the report, the LSC concludes that the evidence available at present is not conclusive, but it is suggestive that a credit specifically targeting PVC is not warranted.
PVC Policy at 1 (emphasis added).
The second PVC policy recommendation likewise is important because it is now being honored more in the breach than in the observance. This recommendation ended the previous moratorium on innovation credits (i.e. credits proposed and approved for use in specific projects) for project applicants that would elect to avoid PVC building materials in favor of alternative materials. However, the LSC called for the development of “robust guidance” for the approval of any project-specific PVC material avoidance credits. The relevant factors identified by the LSC were that the credit applicant (1) assessed a range of materials in addition to PVC materials; (2) explained how it determined that the alternatives to PVC building materials were in fact preferable; (3) conducted a high-quality and reliable alternatives analysis; and (4) used a transparent process. Id. at 1–2.
Of the five general policy recommendations, three are relevant to Option 2. The first general recommendation provided that USGBC “[m]ove ahead quickly and efficiently with incorporating more environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based decision making into LEED.” Id. at 2. The second general recommendation was to make greater use of risk assessment when making material decisions for LEED because it is “more robust . . . than simple pass-fail screening tools” and that USGBC should use the precautionary principle as a tool to “identify[] areas where particular care is warranted.” Id. The third general recommendation was to conduct more research and engage in advocacy with respect to dioxin emissions from landfill fires and backyard burning.
The LSC’s policy recommendations were sound and fully informed by the extensive PVC Report. However, Option 2 completely disregards both the technical findings of the PVC Report and each of the relevant policy determinations adopted by the LSC that were made in response to those findings.
1. Option 2 Is A Material Avoidance Credit Targeting PVC
As discussed above, the PVC Task Group recommended that USGBC “[a]void the ‘blunt instrument’ problem of material-based credits.” PVC Report at 12. In its PVC-specific policy recommendations, the LSC affirmed that the evidence collected for the PVC Report showed that “a credit specifically targeting PVC is not warranted.” PVC Policy at 1. Thus it is clear as a matter of scientific justification and published USGBC policy that a material avoidance credit targeting PVC is not acceptable. In its response to comments on the Fifth Draft, USGBC denies that Option 2 is a disfavored material avoidance credit, stating, “This credit does not target specific products.” 5th PC Comments with Responses, at row 385.
While Option 2 relies on three different red lists to deselect disfavored products, it is obvious that PVC building materials—particularly those with phthalate plasticizers—are a main target slated for avoidance. The current approach is an evolution of earlier versions of this credit. In the second draft of what was then designated LEED 2012, issued in August 2011, USGBC included, for the first time, an “Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern” credit targeting building products containing more than negligible amounts of any of the over 800 substances on the California Proposition 65 list, including phthalate plasticizers used in many flexible PVC products such as vinly flooring, wall coverings, and wiring. The third draft of LEED 2012 issued in March 2012 provided a credit for expressly not using any products containing PVC and nine phthalate plasticizers, in addition to the Proposition 65 chemicals. The fourth draft issued in May 2012 took a new tack, mandating that manufacturers of products eligible for the credit demonstrate compliance with two European regulatory programs for chemicals. Again, products containing many common PVC plasticizers would have been deselected by this version of the credit. In the Fifth and this Sixth Draft, USGBC has taken a new approach, but the result is the same. With each iteration of this credit USGBC has found a slightly different way to provide credits for not using plasticized PVC building materials.
To be eligible for the credit, a product need only satisfy one of three red lists: GreenScreen Benchmark 1 hazards, Cradle to Cradle certification, and the REACH Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) list. Due to variations in the lists and methodologies, many building products will be able to satisfy at least one of the three lists (e.g. many building materials contain antimony trioxide which is a Benchmark 1 chemical but not a REACH SVHC) and thus earn the credit.
However, plasticized PVC building materials—which have clearly been the target of this credit in each of its iterations—could not satisfy Option 2 under any of the three red lists. PVC materials would not satisfy the GreenScreen criteria because one of the “breakdown products” of the combustion of PVC, dioxin, is a Benchmark 1 hazard (notwithstanding that many materials, including wood, will produce dioxins when combusted). Phthalate plasticizers likewise would be classified as Benchmark 1 hazards. The Cradle to Cradle criteria is unavailable because both PVC and phthalates are on that program’s “Banned List,” meaning that any product containing those materials in concentrations above 1,000 ppm will not even be considered for certification. Lastly, the REACH compliance criteria targets plasticized PVC building materials because plasticizers such as BBP, DEHP, DIBP, and DBP are on the SVHC list. Under any of the alternative criteria, products such as vinyl flooring, PVC electrical wiring, and vinyl wall coverings are targeted for deselection.
It is clear that Option 2 is a material avoidance credit which would steer projects away from PVC building materials. USGBC’s claims to the contrary simply ignore how the systems designated for use under Option 2 work with respect to plasticized PVC products. Moreover, the PVC material avoidance effect of Option 2 is contrary to the findings of the PVC Task Group and the prudent policy determinations of the LSC, the LEED policy-setting body of USGBC. For these reasons, it should be withdrawn.
2. Option 2 Deselects PVC Without Conducting Any Alternatives Analysis That Considers The Relative Environmental And Human Health Impacts Of PVC And Alternative Materials Over Their Life Cycles
The PVC Policy’s second PVC-specific policy determination was that robust criteria should be developed for evaluating proposed innovation credits (i.e. credits proposed by individual LEED applicants for use in a single project) seeking credit for avoiding PVC building materials. The LSC stated that these criteria should include a requirement that the innovation credit applicant make a clear demonstration that it has conducted a rigorous and transparent alternatives analysis and has satisfactorily determined that the selected alternative is preferable to PVC. This reasonable guidance was fully consistent with the PVC Task Group’s conclusion that the “blunt instrument” of a PVC avoidance credit could steer projects towards building materials that have greater environmental and human health impacts over their life cycles. Thus, alternatives should only be rewarded if they are “demonstrably better” than the avoided PVC building materials. The LSC concluded as a matter of policy that these prudent steps be taken to ensure that an innovation credit for avoiding PVC applicable only to a single project was justified. USGBC now disregards this reasonable policy determination by proposing a PVC avoidance credit applicable to all projects without any of these reasonable safeguards.
USGBC has conducted no alternatives assessment regarding PVC building materials and alternative materials that will be preferred by this credit. It has not developed a new LCA methodology that better accounts for the purported human health impacts of PVC building materials, nor has it cited any new research to indicate that these impacts are greater than they were understood in 2007 when the PVC Report was issued and the LSC issued its PVC Policy. The only thing that has changed since 2007 apparently is the opinion of USGBC’s credit-writing staff without a sound scientific justification to support that changed opinion. Indeed, there is ample evidence that PVC building materials – including the vinyl flooring products manufactured by RFCI’s members—compare very favorably to, and indeed in many cases are superior to, alternative products on both environmental and human health metrics over the course of their life cycle.
3. Life Cycle Assessments, Which USGBC Have Endorsed And Adequately Considers Human Health Impacts, Demonstrate That Vinyl Flooring Has Less Impacts Than Competing Alternatives
RFCI recognizes that some commenters have quibbled with the use of life cycle assessment for material use decisions in LEED, stating that these assessments do not adequately capture human health impacts. The PVC Report also questioned whether life cycle assessment methodologies in use at the time the report was drafted adequately accounted for human health concerns. For this reason, the PVC Task Group suggested that USGBC supplement life cycle analyses with risk assessment principles when evaluating potential materials decisions. The LSC took this advice and turned it into a policy recommendation that USGBC work towards developing better life cycle assessment methodologies that accurately included and weighted human health impacts. The LSC acted on this policy determination by establishing a life cycle assessment working group on February 7, 2007 and by advising its technical advisory groups to use this tool to improve their approach to environmental and human health issues.
To our knowledge, USGBC has not developed a new life cycle assessment methodology that focuses on human health impacts. It has, however, adopted an authoritative LCA methodology and weighting system developed by the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology—the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) methodology—for use in LEED. See e.g., USGBC, LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations xii. The BEES methodology uses varying weightings for 13 different impact categories (e.g. global warming potential, indoor air quality, human health). BEES allows users to manually adjust the weightings when running an LCA analysis or use one of three preset weightings (Equal Weights, EPA Science Advisory Board-based, or BEES Stakeholder Panel). USGBC specifically utilizes the Stakeholder Panel weighting, which places a significant emphasis on human health impacts. Thus, the current version of BEES (BEES Online) using the USGBC-approved Stakeholder Panel weightings represents USGBC’s best efforts to address the perceived shortcomings of LCA identified by the PVC Task Group and some commenters.
We have stated this in previous comments but it bears repeating: The BEES LCA shows that vinyl composite tile (VCT) has the least environmental and health impact of 13 generic flooring categories evaluated, including linoleum and ceramic tile with recycled glass. BEES’ LCA environmental performance results are expressed in units corresponding to the products’ contribution to annual per capita U.S. environmental impacts. A lower number means that a product has less of an environmental and health impact relative to the other products. Using the USGBC-endorsed BEES Stakeholder weighting system, which weighs human toxicity impacts as 13% of the total, VCT has been shown to have a lower environmental and health impact than all 12 alternative generic product categories over the course of its life cycle. The aggregate score for “Generic Vinyl Composition Tile” (i.e. VCT) is 0.0022. The next lowest score is “Generic Linoleum Flooring” at 0.0032 and the highest is “Generic Wool Carpet Broadloom” at 0.1243. The BEES Stakeholder Weighting results are presented in full in Attachment B. The result is the same under the EPA-developed weighting (which assigns an 11% weighting to human toxicity impacts)—VCT has the lowest environmental and health impact (0.0013 for VCT compared to 0.0020 for the next lowest alternative, which is linoleum). See Attachment C.
The LSC’s PVC Policy specified that project-specific innovation credits should not be awarded unless the applicant demonstrated, based on a robust and transparent alternatives analysis, that the selected alternatives were demonstrably better than avoided PVC building materials. With Option 2, USGBC does not hold itself to the standard the LSC set for innovation credit applicants. USGBC has developed no new data or LCA methodology demonstrating that non-PVC alternatives are preferable to PVC products. To the contrary, the authoritative LCA methodology and weighting system USGBC has adopted for use in LEED shows that PVC building materials compare very favorably to alternatives on environmental and human health metrics and in many cases are superior. Nevertheless, USGBC spurns these results—not to mention the findings of the PVC Task Group and the LSC’s PVC Policy—to continue to propose a baseless PVC avoidance credit for LEED v4.
4. Option 2 Contravenes The Essential Risk Assessment Principles Recognized By USGBC’s LEED Steering Committee Because It Simply Uses Pass-Fail Screening Based On Hazard
Federal and state regulatory decisions in the United States about product safety are almost universally based on sound risk assessment principles. At least on paper, this is USGBC’s policy as well. The PVC Task Group recommended that the LSC supplement its LCA-based materials decisions with “risk assessment to address critical environmental and human health issues explicitly and more systematically.” PVC Report at 11. The LSC adopted this recommendation. In the PVC Policy, its second general policy recommendation was to “[e]xpand the use of Risk Assessment in LEED.” PVC Policy at 2. It further stated, “The LSC recognizes that risk assessment is a powerful tool for analyzing human health concerns from building occupant, occupational, and community exposures, and provides more robust results than simple pass-fail screening tools.” Id. (emphasis added). Option 2 could not be a further departure from this sound scientific policy because it is a simple pass-fail screening tool based on hazard that incorporates no risk assessment principles.
The simplified formula for determining risk is hazard plus exposure. That is, the use of a product does not pose a risk unless it contains a human health hazard and there is a likelihood that persons will be exposed to that hazard at levels sufficient to cause harm. Risk assessment principles allow the reasonable and scientific differentiation between those hazards that should be avoided or minimized and those that are not cause for concern. As the LSC recognized in its PVC Policy, the benefit of risk assessment is self-evident.
Manufacturers of PVC products, including resilient flooring, have advocated for years that our products should be judged on the basis of risk assessment (in concert with LCA) which has been the near-universal regulatory basis for evaluating the health and safety of products in the United States at both the federal and state levels. PVC products have been in use for decades and are some of the most widely studied products on the market. As we have discussed with USGBC in the past, numerous studies have found that exposure to phthalates in vinyl flooring through oral, dermal, and respiratory exposure routes is negligible to nonexistent. Under reasonable risk assessment principles, there is no human health justification for the deselection of vinyl flooring attributable to its use phase (or, as will be discussed in the next section, its end-of-life phase). No federal, state, or local government agency has banned or even restricted the use of vinyl flooring using risk assessment principles based on their PVC or phthalate content.
5. The PVC Material Avoidance Credit Misapplies The Precautionary Principle Recognized BY USGBC
It is our understanding that USGBC’s response to our request that it adhere to its own risk assessment policy is that the PVC material avoidance decision is guided by the precautionary principle. In fact the PVC Policy did recommend that USGBC endorse the precautionary principle and the organization expressly did so again in its 2013-2015 Strategic Plan. We seriously question whether the precautionary principle should be used as the basis for making quasi-regulatory materials decisions in LEED, just as federal and state agencies have rejected the use of the precautionary principle for regulatory actions. Nevertheless, even if the precautionary principle were a valid basis for LEED decision making, the unsound material avoidance credit in Option 2 represents a gross misapplication of this concept.
It is important to recognize exactly what the precautionary principle is and why the LSC elected to adopt it. The closest thing to a consensus definition of the precautionary principle comes from the 1998 Johnson Foundation Wingspread Conference on the Precautionary Principle. The conferees agreed on the following definition: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” Statement of Wingspread Conference on the Precautionary Principle (Jan. 26, 1998). As the LSC recognized, the precautionary principle should not be used to create a “simple yes/no test but as a process for identifying areas were particular care is warranted.” PVC Policy at 2. Indeed, the LSC determined that the precautionary principle should be used in conjunction with risk assessment, presumably to determine cases in which risk assessment principles should be brought to bear to more carefully evaluate materials. This position is consistent with the Wingspread conference explanation of how the precautionary principle should work in practice. They stated: “The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.”
A faithful application of the precautionary principle, as the LSC recognized in 2007, does not justify the creation of this single-attribute hazard-based material avoidance credit. If LEED credit writers believe that the precautionary principle dictates that action be taken with respect to PVC and phthalates, there are proper steps to be taken. As the Wingspread conferees outlined, application of the precautionary principle should trigger an open and informed process that includes the affected parties (i.e. the vinyl industry) and examines the full range of alternatives. The PVC Policy dictates that this process include a robust application of risk assessment principles to evaluate whether the purported hazards of PVC building materials actually present a human health or environmental risk. It also entails conducting a comprehensive alternatives assessment. Since the PVC Report was released, RFCI and other organizations with an interest in PVC have repeatedly offered to work with USGBC to fill the data gaps in the PVC Report and to more fully evaluate the relative human health and environmental attributes of PVC building materials and their alternatives. USGBC has not been responsive to our efforts. Thus, USGBC has not even followed its own policy regarding the proper application of the Precautionary Principle and in proposing the risk assessment PVC material avoidance credit in Option 2. Thus, it should be withdrawn.
6. The End-of-Life Dioxin Justification for Option 2 Is Scientifically Inadequate And Is Not Based On Data Needed To Fulfill Significant Data Gaps Identified By The PVC Task Group
In its response to comments on the Fifth Draft of LEED v4, USGBC provided only one purported health-based rationale for PVC avoidance in Option 2: “USGBC’s TSAC study on PVC found that dioxin emissions put PVC ‘consistently among the worst materials for health impacts.’” 5th PC Comments with Responses, at row 499. This quotation is taken out of context and is misleading. The full quote is:

When we add end-of-life with accidental landfill fires and backyard burning, the additional risk of dioxin emissions puts PVC consistently among the worst materials studied for human health impacts, unless the end-of-life emissions from landfill fires and backyard burning are near the lower end of the wide range of uncertainty about these emissions.

PVC Report at 10 (emphasis added).

As the full quotation demonstrates, the PVC Task Force’s concern about dioxin emissions from PVC products over their life cycle occurs only if estimates of end-of-life dioxin emissions from landfill fires and backyard burning are toward the upper end of the estimated range of uncertainty. The PVC Task Group stated that this wide range of uncertainty represented a significant data gap that should be addressed. The LSC reacted to this finding with three policy recommendations: (1) conduct additional research into the “frequency, nature, and impact of such fires”; (2) initiate an advocacy effort to prevent such fires; and (3) use LEED to create incentives for industry to divert PVC building materials from going to landfills and prevent end-of-life fires. PVC Policy at 2–3. To our knowledge, none of these policy recommendations have been acted upon.

A fair evaluation of the available scientific evidence, supplemented by new regulations, changed industry operations, and increased PVC recycling rates since 2007 demonstrate that the risk of dioxin emissions from the PVC building material life cycle is near or below the bottom end of the range found by the PVC Task Group. Thus, this concern does not justify the PVC material avoidance credit in Option 2.

It is important to recognize at the outset that the dioxin ranges found by the Task Group are questionable at best. First, as detailed in a report submitted to USGBC by the Vinyl Institute on May 1, 2007, the landfill fire incidents and dioxin emissions rates estimates used by the PVC Task Group appear to have been overstated by a factor of 100. This report is attached for reference as Attachment D. Correcting these data errors would dramatically reduce the harm attributed to PVC’s end-of-life phase relative to its alternatives.

Second, as explained in previous RFCI comments, the composition of vinyl flooring actually inhibits the formation of dioxins from the combustion of the PVC component of the flooring. Limestone constitutes about 84% of VCT and 50% of commercial sheet vinyl by weight and is primarily composed of various crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Calcium carbonate inhibits the release of hydrogen chloride (HCl) from burning PVC and, in fact, has been used to reduce dioxin formation in incineration. As an alkaline material, calcium carbonate reacts with (scavenges) the acidic HCl that is otherwise released when PVC is burned. The end product of this reaction is calcium chloride, a nonhazardous salt. Thus, the dioxin formation potential of burning vinyl flooring is less than the potential for non-limestone PVC products and needs to be adequately considered in the dioxin risk evaluation of vinyl flooring. It does not appear that the PVC Task Group took the composition of PVC building materials into account when it considered the amount of dioxins formed during the combustion of PVC. These omissions resulted in the PVC Task Group’s overestimation of the range of dioxin emissions attributable to PVC building materials, and vinyl flooring in particular. If these two methodological errors were corrected, it would become clear that the dioxin emissions attributable to PVC building materials are at or below bottom end of the range outlined in the PVC Report, meaning that the human health impacts of PVC building materials are not “among the worst materials studied for human health impacts.”

Third, the trend in total domestic dioxin emissions over the past 25 years has been a dramatic and progressive reduction. The most comprehensive and up-to-date data on domestic dioxin releases is found in a 2006 EPA report entitled, “An Inventory of Sources and Environmental Release of Dioxin-Like Compounds in the United States for the Years 1987, 1995, and 2000.” EPA/600/P-03/002F at 6-12 (Nov. 2006). The report tallied total domestic dioxin releases for 1987, 1995, and 2000. Notwithstanding that PVC production approximately tripled over that time period, the levels of total domestic dioxin releases fell from 13,965 grams in 1987 to 1,422 grams in 2000. Id. at xlvi.
Fourth, this declining dioxin emission trend will continue because of regulatory and industry changes, including increased recycling of PVC products in the past six-seven years since the 2007 PVC Task Force Report and the 2006 EPA report. Regarding dioxin emissions from the PVC manufacturing phase, on April 17, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Polyvinyl Chloride and Copolymers Production (NESHAP), 76 Fed. Reg. 22,848 (to be codified at 40 C.F.R. pt. 63). This updated NESHAP sets maximum achievable control technology-based standards for new and existing PVC resin production facilities, which establish more stringent dioxin emissions standards than currently exist for these facilities. Thus, dioxin emissions from PVC resin facilities will be reduced.

Similarly, EPA issued revised air emissions standards for several classes of incinerators over the past years which include greater restrictions on dioxin emissions. See 78 Fed. Reg. 9112 (Feb. 7, 2013) (commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators); 72 Fed. Reg. 13,016 (March 20, 2007) (large municipal waste combustors). These revised emissions standards will have a positive impact on the dioxin emissions attributable to PVC building materials in municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris waste streams.

In addition, state and federal regulators have become increasingly active in reducing the incidence of backyard burning. A number of state and local jurisdictions ban this practice. For example, in the past year at least two states enacted permanent state-wide bans on the open burning of trash (Michigan and Hawaii). See Mich. Comp. Laws § 324.11522; Hawaii Code R. § 11-60.1-51. Statistics bear out a decrease in backyard burning as well. According to the National Fire Protection Association data drawn from fire department responses, the number of “outside rubbish fires” decreased 13% from 2007 to 2011.

Regarding landfill fires, a comprehensive study shows that they “are relatively rare occurrences in comparison with other activities that contribute dioxins to the environment.” CPVC Final EIR, 2.0 Comments and Responses at 201. Despite their infrequent occurrence, a number of state and local regulators are devoting increased attention to preventing them. For example, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has increased its monitoring and enforcement of landfills. The agency has developed robust best management practices for fire prevention, investigation, and response at solid waste and construction and debris landfills to reduce the risk of landfill fires. California also recently issued landfill fire guidance to address this issue. In another recent high-profile example, EPA issued a $1.1 million penalty to a landfill operator in Hawaii for creating an increased fire risk by failing to properly control gas buildup and temperatures within the landfill as required by federal regulations.

Fifth, the vinyl flooring industry has been taking significant steps to reduce the amount of old vinyl flooring and other PVC material that is disposed of in landfills. Vinyl flooring manufacturers have been using increasing amounts of post-consumer recycled PVC content in their products. A number of vinyl flooring products on the market now contain in excess of 50% post-consumer recycled PVC content. This practice diverts from landfills the recycled PVC source materials used in the recycled vinyl flooring products (e.g. PVC film, old vinyl flooring). Furthermore, vinyl flooring with limestone filler typically is recyclable at the end of its useful life. In the past few years, a number of RFCI members have commenced programs to take back and recycle used vinyl flooring. These programs have resulted in millions of pounds of used vinyl flooring being diverted from landfills. By using increasing amounts of recycled PVC content and providing ways for consumers to recycle their used vinyl flooring, the resilient flooring industry actions have reduced the amount of PVC in landfills available to form dioxins in the event of fires.

Thus, USGBC’s dioxin emission rationale for the PVC material avoidance credit in Option 2 is fundamentally flawed and deficient because: (1) it has not filled the significant data gap about the amount of the end-of-life dioxin emissions identified by the PVC Task Force; (2) the data used by the PVC Task Group overestimated the incidence of landfill fires and did not account for the fact that the limestone content of vinyl flooring inhibits the formation of dioxins when vinyl flooring is burned; (3) changes in regulatory and industry actions since 2007 will result in a reduction of dioxin emissions from PVC building products during both their production and end-of-life phases; and (4) industry recycling programs that are underway and increasing will divert millions of pounds of old PVC products from landfills. With correct data and assumptions, the dioxin emissions attributable to PVC building materials will be near—or more likely far below—the bottom end of the range found by the PVC Task Group. Accordingly, there is no basis for USGBC justifying the PVC material avoidance credit, particularly for vinyl flooring, based on dioxin emission concerns.

B. The Three Specified Red Lists Should Not Be Incorporated Into Option 2 Because They Do Not Have A Sufficient Track Record Of Use, Lack Adequate Third Party Verification Infrastructure, And Are based On Hazard Instead of Risk
The LSC was clear in the PVC Policy that there is no room in LEED for “simple[] pass-fail screening systems” that do not consider risk. PVC Policy at 2. Yet, Option 2 includes three: GreenScreen, Cradle to Cradle, and the REACH SVHC list. In the name of the empty buzzphrase “material optimization,” USGBC piggybacks on these three systems to avoid going through the necessary steps outlined in the PVC Report to determine if a proposed PVC avoidance credit is scientifically justified and narrowly tailored. This simple red list-based approach to materials decisions is wrong on its face. In each case, a product will be disqualified from earning this credit simply because it contains a disfavored chemical (irrespective of exposure). However, USGBC compounds this problem by selecting three red lists that are, for varying reasons, highly inappropriate systems for use in a green building standard that claims to be scientifically grounded and consensus-based.
1. Red List 1: GreenScreen
Clean Production Action’s fledgling GreenScreen program should not be included in LEED. It is an incomplete and non-consensus-based program that lacks any real track record. GreenScreen is overly complicated and relies solely on the hazard categorization of a product’s chemical ingredients, without any consideration of risk or LCA. To determine a chemical ingredient’s hazard rating on a scale of Benchmark 1– Avoid to Benchmark 4 – Prefer, GreenScreen incorporates a dizzying array of red lists from governmental and non-governmental sources from all over the world. This system is neither appropriate nor sufficiently mature to be incorporated into LEED for any purpose, and most definitely not as a red list for a material avoidance credit.
The GreenScreen compliance alternative has been amended since the Fifth Draft, but not for the better. For a product to contribute toward this compliance alternative, all of its chemical ingredients must be inventoried to a de micromis concentration of .01% (100 ppm) and none of these ingredients can be classified as “Benchmark 1 Chemicals.” Products will be credited at 100% of their cost if all of their ingredients have been assessed using GreenScreen’s List Translator. If all ingredients have undergone a full GreenScreen Assessment, then the product will be valued at 150% of its cost. In either event, the Benchmark 1 hazard test is employed in Option 2 as a simple pass/fail red list. If a product contains any chemicals designated Benchmark 1, it is ineligible for credit under this compliance alternative.
There are many reasons why the GreenScreen Benchmarks should not be used in Option 2 or any other LEED v4 credit. First, as we detailed in our December 10, 2012 comments, the three co-directors of GreenScreen’s developer, Clean Production Action, have an obvious and long-standing anti-PVC bias. This is hardly an unbiased organization that uses a balance of interests, consensus-based decision making process in arriving at its Benchmark methodology.
Second, the program is still under development and is untested. Out of the thousands of chemicals covered by the lists used in GreenScreen, it is our understanding that only a few hundred “draft” assessments have been performed in accordance with the GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals v 1.2 Guidance for Hazard Assessment and Benchmarking Chemicals—which itself is only a discussion draft. These assessments are required for every chemical ingredient in a product above a .01% (100 ppm) concentration for it to achieve the higher 150% cost value under this alternative. To our knowledge, no assessments have been validated and finalized because the validation system is still being pilot tested. Moreover, at this time, there are only two authorized “Qualified GreenScreen Profilers” who are available to conduct or validate the hundreds, if not thousands, of chemical assessments that they may be called upon to conduct if this credit is finalized. Without sufficient time to mature and adequate pilot testing, it is questionable whether GreenScreen can be a functioning component of a LEED credit.
Third, and most importantly, the GreenScreen methodology’s sole function is to classify the potential hazard of chemicals. Hazard is a grossly imprecise metric to use as the basis for real world material avoidance decisions. The assessment completely avoids any type of human health or environmental risk assessment of a chemical and its uses in building products; thereby disregarding exposure scenarios in the evaluation of the risk posed by a product. A review of the GreenScreen methodology reveals that its crude hazard-based methodology is simply not appropriate for use in LEED.
According to GreenScreen’s guidance materials (which are still in draft form), the first step in evaluating a product under either the List Translator or Assessment procedures is to inventory all intentionally added chemical components down to a .01% (100 ppm) concentration. If “feasible and relevant,” GreenScreen also requires the analysis of the “transformation components” of each ingredient. Transformation components include changes to the ingredient that will result from processes including biodegradation, hydrolysis, photolysis, oxidation, and combustion.
The next step is to determine the Benchmark score for each chemical ingredient (including its transformation components). At this step it becomes clear that, at its core, GreenScreen is a simple red list of red lists. The foundation of the Benchmark analysis is the “GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals Version 1.2 Specified Lists” and “GreenScreen List Translator” (collectively, List Translator). There over 100 distinct lists from several dozen sources included on the List Translator. By our count, the raw sum of chemicals (i.e. including chemicals that appear on multiple lists) on the various Benchmark 1 lists is 18,652. It is difficult to conceive of a building material that could completely avoid Benchmark 1 chemicals. For example, wood produces carbon dioxide and rubber releases isoprene when burned. Portland cement (and therefore most concretes) cannot be made without cement kiln dust and stainless steel requires chromium. All of these substances are Benchmark 1.
Under the List Translator approach, every chemical ingredient in a product above 100 ppm and any relevant transformation components would have to be cross-referenced against these lists for 18 hazard end points (e.g. carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, flammability). If a chemical appears on any of the Benchmark 1 lists, that chemical is deemed a Benchmark 1 hazard. The product containing that chemical as an ingredient (or transformation component of an ingredient) therefore becomes ineligible to receive credit under the GreenScreen List Translator compliance alternative.
For a product to contribute towards earning the credit at 150% of its value, each of its ingredients (above .1%, 1,000 ppm) would have to undergo a full GreenScreen Assessment. For this assessment, a chemical is evaluated against the List Translator lists and available study data across all 18 of the identified hazard endpoints. A detailed report must be prepared outlining the findings of the analysis, which considers only hazard and data gaps; risk assessment plays no role in this evaluation. The report must be prepared by or approved by a “Qualified GreenScreen Profiler.” At present, there are only two Profilers. A GreenScreen Assessment must be designated as a draft until it has been validated by one of the Profilers. The details of the process are not finalized, however, because the validation program is currently being pilot tested.
Although we are not aware of any GreenScreen Assessment of PVC, it is obvious that PVC would be categorized as a Benchmark 1 material. Clean Production Action has posted a “Plastics Scorecard” on the front page of its website that grades various plastics on a scale of A to F. PVC is the only plastic that is given an F grade. PVC is portrayed as being in a hazard class by itself, with the next worst plastic on the scale, polylactic acid, posting a passing C+ grade. The failing grade is primarily attributable to the observation that the combustion of PVC can form dioxins and furans. Thus, we assume that PVC would be classified as a Benchmark 1 chemical if an assessment were performed due to the designation of dioxins as a relevant transformation component of PVC. Certain phthalates would be considered Benchmark 1 chemicals as well because they are listed as SVHCs under REACH and reproductive toxins under Proposition 65. Thus, any building product containing these chemicals, including vinyl flooring products, would be ineligible for Option 2 of the Proposed Material Ingredients credit.
GreenScreen should be removed from the draft of LEED v4. The system is not sufficiently established or reliable. At best, it should be subjected to lengthy pilot testing to determine if it is a viable standard. Even if it were proven to be a functional standard, however, it should not be employed as a red list. The Benchmark 1 list is crudely overinclusive as it is likely to include hundreds or thousands of chemicals that present no harm when used in building materials. Thus, the use of GreenScreen as a red list will result in the deselection of scores of perfectly safe building materials, including vinyl flooring. Unless and until Clean Production Action incorporates suitable risk assessment and LCA principles into GreenScreen, it cannot serve as a justifiable basis for materials preference and avoidance decisions in LEED.
2. Red List 2: Cradle to Cradle
Cradle to Cradle is wholly inappropriate for use under the LEED green building rating system for many reasons. This non-consensus-based system refuses to evaluate any product that contains an ingredient above a .1% (1,000 ppm) concentration found on a “Banned List” of disfavored chemicals. This fact alone should disqualify Cradle to Cradle from consideration in LEED because it uses crude hazard screening to disqualify products rather than risk assessment. Moreover, we have serious concerns about the propriety of incorporating this proprietary certification system into LEED.
To contribute towards earning credit under this compliance alternative of Option 2, a product must be certified Cradle to Cradle v3 Silver or v2 Gold (valued at 100% of cost) or Cradle to Cradle v3 Gold or Platinum or v2 Platinum (valued at 150% of cost). As with GreenScreen, Cradle to Cradle certification is being employed in Option 2 as a red list. Materials such as PVC building materials cannot earn Cradle to Cradle certification and therefore are categorically excluded from earning credit under this compliance alternative without consideration of their human health and environmental attributes.
The development and management of Cradle to Cradle should give USGBC pause about incorporating the system into LEED. The Cradle to Cradle standard was developed independently by a U.S. consulting firm, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC (MBDC), in conjunction with a German firm, EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH. The founding principal of MBDC, William McDonough, is a charter member of USGBC who has maintained close ties with the organization, such as being a keynote speaker at this year’s Greenbuild conference. The standard is currently overseen by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. For many years prior to the formation of the non-profit Institute, however, Cradle to Cradle certification was a proprietary service offered by MBDC and EPEA in the course of their business activities. They created the Institute in 2009 and licensed the Cradle to Cradle mark to it. The Institute is constituted as an independent non-profit entity, but manufacturers must undergo a very expensive certification process overseen by an “Accredited Assessor” to use the Cradle to Cradle label. The Institute estimates that product assessment fees will range from $5,500 - $75,000. Once issued, these certifications are valid only for one year, and an Accredited Assessor must reevaluate the product and recommend that it be recertified. There are only two Accredited Assessors in the U.S. available to handle all of this lucrative work—ToxServices LLC (who also happens to be one of two GreenScreen Profilers) and, unsurprisingly, MBDC.
This does not appear to be the first USGBC effort to find a place in LEED for Cradle to Cradle. USGBC staff met with MBDC in 2007 and there was consideration given to whether innovation credits should be given for the use of Cradle to Cradle certified products. On February 7, 2007, a motion passed in the LSC to consider further exploration of a relationship between USGBC and MBDC. However, the motion included a note of caution: “LSC has concerns about the use in LEED of non-transparent proprietary certification systems.” Notwithstanding that the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute oversees the standard on paper, it appears to remain a de facto proprietary standard of MBDC. This firm created Cradle to Cradle and the Institute that oversees it (which holds only a license to the standard). Because MBDC—whose principal is a USGBC insider—is one of only two U.S.-based assessors, it stands to benefit greatly from the wider use of Cradle to Cradle that undoubtedly will flow from its incorporation into LEED. Particularly because of the apparent close connection between USGBC and MBDC, USGBC should avoid taking an action that has any appearance of impropriety. Accordingly, USGBC should heed the concerns of the LSC in 2007 and not incorporate this non-transparent proprietary standard into LEED. At the very least, USGBC should critically examine the relationship between itself and MBDC and report its finding to the USGBC membership before holding a vote on including Cradle to Cradle in LEED v4.
Moreover, based on its closed and non-consensus development process, Cradle to Cradle does not merit inclusion in LEED in any fashion, and certainly not as the basis for a material avoidance credit. No consensus-based process—or any accepted standards-development process—was employed in the development of the Cradle to Cradle standard. This total lack of an unbiased, objective, and transparent development and certification process is demonstrated in the first instance by the requirements listed for products to be eligible to apply for Cradle to Cradle certification. The standard lists highly subjective and unexplained categories of products that it will refuse to certify. It will not certify, for example, any products that in the Institute’s estimation have “apparent safety concerns related to chemical or physical characteristics,” or “ethical issues.” The most inexplicable product exclusion applies to any products “that may be contrary to the intent of the Cradle to Cradle principles.” Similarly, irrespective of the product, companies themselves may be deemed ineligible to seek certification for a number of ill-defined reasons, including if the Institute determines that they are “involved in rain forest damage” or have a “connection” to weapon production.
The Cradle to Cradle certification criterion that is the greatest cause for concern is Material Health. Cradle to Cradle’s chemical hazard methodology is “strongly based” on the precautionary principle. The standard’s unusual view of this principle results in a peculiar interpretation of risk assessment (i.e. hazard x exposure = risk). The Cradle to Cradle methodology purports to account for risk by identifying a chemical’s hazard endpoint and then assuming that exposure will occur. The stated justification for this assumption is, “Experience has shown that attempts to only minimize exposure in chemical management systems have ultimately failed, as chemicals with intrinsic hazards are exposed to various populations throughout the globe.” In other words, the fact that someone somewhere in the world may be exposed to that chemical through some unrelated source is sufficient grounds to assume that the product being evaluated presents a risk of human exposure. Through this illogical reasoning, Cradle to Cradle claims to consider a product’s risk despite applying no risk assessment principles.
The Material Health criterion outlines a detailed assessment methodology for each chemical constituent of a product. Chemicals are assigned a grade of A, B, C, or X. For the Silver rating under Version 3.0 (the minimum certification level for credit under Option 2), the product can contain no materials with an X rating for cancer, birth defects, genetic damage, or reproductive harm hazard endpoints. For the Platinum rating, which allows a product to be valued at 150% of cost under Option 2, all constituents present in the final product and all process chemicals (even those not present in the finished product) must be free of X-rated chemicals for all endpoints.
While Cradle to Cradle’s material assessment methodology purports to follow a scientific methodology, it completely disregards these principles when it comes to substances on the Banned List. Chemicals on this list do not get the benefit of having the assessment methodology applied to them; they are simply banned outright for all uses. If a product contains any chemical on this list in a concentration above .1%, the product is ineligible to be certified under any level of the Cradle to Cradle standard—irrespective of any risk posed by the product that uses that chemical. Although fewer than three dozen chemicals are included on the list, it includes PVC, which is the key constituent of vinyl flooring, and BBP and DEHP, which are used as plasticizers in some vinyl flooring products. There is no justification given for the materials included on this red list; they merely reflect the whims of MBDC. Thus, irrespective of product risk, no building product containing more than a de minimis amount (1,000 ppm) of PVC (or any other banned or X-rated chemicals) can be eligible to earn credit under Option 2 through Cradle to Cradle certification.
Cradle to Cradle is a proprietary material deselection program based on the subjective and unexplained opinions of two consulting firms, MBDC and EPEA, which was not developed using any consensus-based decision making process. More importantly, Cradle to Cradle functions as a red list to exclude building products such as vinyl flooring from participating in this credit, but it provides no justification for materials on the Cradle to Cradle Banned List, such as PVC. They are simply banned by fiat. USGBC should heed the warning of the LSC in 2007 and not adopt this proprietary certification system for used as a red list in LEED. At the very least, because of close ties between MBDC and USGBC and the significant windfall that will accrue to the firm, USGBC should examine the relationship between USGBC and MBDC and report those findings before any ballot consideration of Cradle to Cradle occurs.
3. Red List 3: REACH
Option 2 of the Proposed Material Ingredients Credit contains an “International Alternative Compliance Path” that would allow products to be eligible for the credit if they “do not contain substances that meet REACH criteria for substances of very high concern.” This alternative is intended for use by international projects but we understand that it will be available for projects in the U.S. as well. The misuse of the REACH Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) list to support a material avoidance credit is unsupportable.
REACH is a sweeping chemical regulatory scheme enacted by the European Commission in 2006. Chemicals that are determined to warrant evaluation for possible use restrictions are placed on the SVHC list (Candidate List). If actual import or manufacturer restrictions are imposed, the chemical is placed on a subset of the SVHC list, the Authorisation List. It is important to note that the inclusion of a substance on the SVHC list (including substances on the Authorisation list) does not mean that the substance cannot be used as an ingredient in products. Authorisation applies only to the chemical itself, not to finished products containing that chemical that are imported into the E.U. A separate REACH provision, called Restriction, can be used to ban the importation of products containing a particular SVHC.
Denmark filed a petition in August 2011 for a Restriction on the use of certain phthalates (BBP, DEHP, DBP, and DIBP) in any product intended for indoor use, including vinyl flooring, on the theory that the effect of combined exposure to these phthalates presented a health risk. Although a final decision has not been formally issued, the two REACH committees tasked with evaluating the basis for this proposal found it to be unjustified. The European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment issued its findings and recommendations on June 12, 2012. This committee concluded “that the available data does not indicate that there is currently a risk from combined exposure to the four phthalates” and therefore the “proposed restriction is not justified.” The ECHA’s Committee for Socio-economic Analysis issued its findings and recommendation on December 7, 2012. The committee concurred that “there is no basis for a supportive opinion as risk from combined exposure was not demonstrated.” Notwithstanding that REACH is expressly predicated on the precautionary principle, REACH Art. 1.3, ECHA authorities applied sound risk assessment principles when evaluating a proposal to ban these SVHCs for use in indoor products, including flooring.
A plasticizer commonly used in vinyl flooring, BBP, is listed as an SVHC under REACH. The REACH compliance path in Option 2 would exclude a flooring product from contributing toward the credit merely because the product contains BBP. In the case of BBP, USGBC has adopted the E.U.’s determination that this material contains a potential hazard but selectively ignores the relevant ECHA authorities’ finding that this hazard does not translate into risk when BBP is used in indoor products. This creates an absurd result: If Option 2 is finalized in its current form, it will be possible for a U.S. manufacturer of vinyl flooring to export flooring products to the European Union in full compliance with REACH even though those products may fail to satisfy Option 2’s REACH compliance option. USGBC is misusing the REACH SVHC list as a red list for material avoidance. The REACH alternative in Option 2 therefore should be withdrawn.
4. Red List 4: To Be Determined
Option 2 contains a standardless provision that would allow USGBC to subsequently approve any program or products that “comply with building product optimization criteria approved by USGBC.” This provision is fundamentally inconsistent with a consensus-based standard. Consensus, by definition, requires that a standard be developed only by the general agreement of its members with a process to fairly consider and resolve the objections of members who disagree with the action. See Office of Management and Budget, Circular A-119 § 4.a.1.v. (Feb. 10, 1998). This provision contains no opportunity for member comment or approval before the credit is amended. It does not even include standards or criteria by which such a decision will be made or identify which USGBC staff or committees have authority to make such decisions. Thus, this provision removes decision making and approval authority from USGBC’s membership and vests it solely in the hands of USGBC staff.
Furthermore, the “USGBC approved program” provision does not comply with the Foundations of LEED. According to LEED’s foundational document,
Substantive revisions to LEED may go through pilot testing but must undergo public comment and USGBC member ballot. Substantive revisions are considered anything other than simple errors and corrections to LEED.
USGBC, Foundations of LEED § III.3 (June 15, 2010). The addition of a new red list to MR Credit 4 cannot be deemed a “simple error” or “correction.” If the addition is made available for use by all projects, then it is not a project-specific adaptation authorized by the Foundations of LEED. Instead, such a change would be a “substantive revision” that “must undergo public comment and USGBC member ballot.”
Under a separate provision in the Foundations of LEED, certain changes to credit language may be made through the Addenda process. Id. § VII, App’x 3. Even if the addition of a new red list to Option 2 were considered an Addenda, it would have to follow the process set forth in the Foundations. Moreover, the existence of the Addenda process presumably makes it unnecessary to include credit language in Option 2 that ostensibly allows changes to be made without the observance of any established procedures, criteria, or approval requirements. Accordingly, this provision should be deleted from Option 2 as contrary to consensus-based principles and the Foundations of LEED.
C. USGBC Has Not Finished Its Pilot Credit Testing Of The Material Avoidance Credit Which Needs To Be Completed And Evaluated Before Being Considered For Inclusion In LEED v4
For a disfavored material avoidance credit with this many implications, it is incumbent upon USGBC to subject the credit to a comprehensive review and vetting process. Submitting the credit to pilot testing would greatly aid this process. According to the Foundations of LEED, the Pilot Credit Library provides a process for proposed credits to be “tested and evaluated before they can be considered for incorporation into the LEED consensus process for approval by USGBC membership.” USGBC, Foundations of LEED § III.3 (July 2009).
USGBC apparently recognizes the importance of pilot testing because it has been revising its pilot credits to reflect changing material avoidance credit. A pilot credit mirroring Option 2, Pilot Credit 77: Material Ingredient Optimization, was introduced on January 15, 2013. The pilot period for Pilot Credit 77 should be allowed to conclude and the Pilot Credit Working Group’s report should be widely circulated and considered (both internally and externally) prior to any action by the LEED Steering Committee. The adverse impacts of this proposed credit warrant that the final decision on its inclusion or rejection be made by USGBC members on a fully informed basis. The proposed credit should be withdrawn from the LEED v4 balloting until its pilot evaluation is completed in full.
RFCI supports in principle the concept that manufacturers may be rewarded for encouraging their suppliers to engage in environmentally beneficial practices. However, this support must be qualified by the recognition that even the largest manufacturers do not necessarily possess the clout to force their suppliers to make operational changes. Manufacturers source their raw materials from multiple suppliers, and the value of that manufacturer’s continued purchases may not be sufficient to prompt any given supplier to implement potentially costly changes. For this credit to be of any practical use, these limitations must be accounted for in how this credit is drafted and implemented.
Option 3 is hopelessly muddled and should be subjected to pilot credit testing before it is given consideration for inclusion in LEED. RFCI fails to understand how, or if, this credit will be earned in practice, which makes it difficult to form a position on whether to support or oppose this credit. This Option allows a project to earn one point if at least 25% of the project’s building materials, by cost, are obtained from manufacturers that satisfy the requirements of this credit. For a product to be eligible under Option 3, its manufacturer must have documentation that at least 99%, by weight, of the ingredients in its product are sourced from suppliers that have third-party verification that they have six poorly defined “processes” in place. These processes include: “communicate and transparently prioritize chemical ingredients along the supply chain according to available hazard, exposure and use information,” “manage the health, safety, and environmental hazard and risk of chemical ingredients,” and “optimize health, safety, and environmental impacts when designing and improving chemical ingredients.” It is not clear precisely what these processes mean or how they will be evaluated. Furthermore, we are unaware of any existing third-party that has a program to verify that such processes are in place.
RFCI believes that this credit has the potential to be a positive addition to LEED, but as drafted, it appears to be too ambiguous to be of much practical use. Accordingly, RFCI recommends that Option 3 be revised to utilize clear, objective standards to define the relevant “processes” requiring compliance and that the revised Option 3 be submitted for pilot credit testing.
For the reasons explained in detail above, the material avoidance option (Option 2) of MR Credit 4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients is fatally flawed and should be withdrawn from the final version of LEED v4 that USGBC currently intends to submit to its membership for a vote in the summer of 2013. This credit has now been introduced in at least five different forms (more if similar pilot credits are included), and each time the building material industry and other LEED users have explained in detail the numerous problems with its approach to material avoidance decisions. We do so again and urge USGBC to once and for all remove the material avoidance credit embodied in Option 2. At most, the pilot credit process for Option 2 should be completed and evaluated before any form of material avoidance credit is considered for permanent adoption in LEED.
With respect to material ingredient reporting option (Option 1), the reporting thresholds should be revised to conform with the OSHA Hazard Communication standard as we have explained.
The product manufacturer supply chain optimization option (Option 3) should be withdrawn from the final version of LEED v4 because it is too ambiguous and subjective for feasible use at this time. It should be revised to establish clear and objective “processes” requiring compliance and then pilot tested before being considered for permanent adoption in LEED.
Please contact me or RFCI’s counsel, Bill Hall at Venable LLP, if you have any questions.

Respectfully submitted,

Dean Thompson
Resilient Floor Covering Institute
115 Broad Street, Suite 201
LaGrange, GA 30240
(706) 882-3928


William N. Hall
Justin W. Curtis
Venable LLP
575 7th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 344-4000

American Biltrite Inc. – Mercerville, New Jersey
Armstrong World Industries, Inc. – Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Centiva – Florence, Alabama
Congoleum Corp. – Mercerville, New Jersey
IVC US – Dalton, Georgia
Mannington Mills, Inc. – Salem, New Jersey
Roppe Corporation, USA – Fostoria, Ohio
Tarkett, Inc. – Chargin Falls, Ohio
Vinylasa – Col. Granjas, Mexico


BASF – Houston, Texas
BYK USA Inc. – Wallingford, Connecticut
Cascades Lupel – Deerfield, FL
Chapco/H.B. Fuller – Aurora, Illinois
Eastman Chemical Co. – Kingsport, Tennessee
ExxonMobil Chemical Co. – Houston, Texas
Ferro Corp. – Cleveland, Ohio
Formosa Plastics Corp. – Livingston, New Jersey
Gerflor North America – Arlington Heights, Illinois
Halstead International (Metroflor Corp.) – Norwalk, Connecticut
Karndean International LLC – Export, Pennsylvania
LG Hausys America, Inc. – Atlanta, Georgia
Mapei Corp. – Lavel, Quebec, Canada
Mexichem – Bogota, Columbia
Owens Corning – Toledo, Ohio
Penn Color – Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Polyone Corp. – Avon Lake, Ohio
Royal Adhesives – Simpsonville, SC
W.F. Taylor Co. – Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
W.W. Henry Co. – Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
XL Brands, Inc. – Resaca, Georgia


April 9, 2007

Mr. Frank Borrelli
Technical Director
The Vinyl Institute
1300 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209

Dear Mr. Borrelli:

I have read the U.S. Green Building Council’s Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee (TSAC) PVC Task Group Report, “Assessment of the Technical Basis for a PVC-Related Materials Credit for LEED” and offer the following comments and assessment. My comments are grouped into three areas: general, emission factors and landfill fires.


Data from various studies and reports are used to arrive at the final assessment. The data are inconsistent and used interchangeably. For example, in order to generate an emission factor for PCDD/F per kg of chloride in waste, and to then utilize this emission factor to estimate the contribution of PVC to PCDD/F emissions from landfill fires, TSAC regresses the experiments of Lemieux, Gullett et al. (2003) as suggested by Neurath. In so doing, TSAC assumes that landfill fires and barrel burns have similar emission factors per kg of each waste burned (pg. 20) for the purposes of this end-of-life calculation. There is no scientific foundation for this assumption. Likely, different combustion conditions, e.g. oxygen availability, moisture content, heat transfer, and temperature, will dominate in a landfill fire than dominate in an open barrel burn. It is not scientifically defensible to extrapolate emissions from the burning barrel tests to landfill fires without data to support such an extrapolation. In fact, Lumieux, Lutes, et al. (2004) clearly caution against such an approach:

“…different combustion conditions may dominate in a landfill fire than are predominant in a backyard burning situation…it is not appropriate to extrapolate emissions from that source to this source.”

I could find no justification for using the two 7.5% PVC data points from the Lemieux, Gullet, et al. tests to determine any meaningful emission factor. There is no basis for assuming that this level of PVC would be representative of either a landfill or backyard open burn fire. The US EPA data indicates the PVC content of municipal waste to be 0.6%. Thus the conclusions for PVC content below 1% would be more appropriate to use. And the data clearly show that the TEQ PCDD/F emissions are relatively independent of PVC content below 1% as concluded by Lemieux, Gullett et al.:

“In summary, although Cl in the waste does appear to influence emissions of PCDD/Fs from burn barrels, this effect can be observed only at high levels of Cl, atypical of household trash, and is independent of the source of the Cl (organic or inorganic). At moderate levels of Cl, a statistically significant effect of waste Cl concentration is not observed, because other more important variables have a much greater influence on the emissions of PCDD/Fs.”

It is very difficult to follow the numbers through successive tables; for instance, 1) going from Table D-6 to Table D-7, and 2) while the landfill emission factors in Table D-8 come directly from Table D-7, the origin of the incineration and open burning numbers is not apparent. For even minimal transparency, TSAC should provide the calculation spread sheets so that the calculations can be followed and the numbers verified.

Emission Factors

The TSAC study utilizes an emission factor of 76.8 ng TEQ/kg waste combusted (from Lemieux, Gullett et al.) along with EPA’s estimated annual emission (498.53 g TEQ/yr) from backyard burning to estimate the amount burned in backyards to be 6.49 million tons in total. Later in the report, TSAC utilizes EPA’s estimate of 1126 g TEQ emitted per year from landfill fires along with the UNEP Dioxin Toolkit emission factor for landfills of 1000 ng TEQ/kg waste burned to estimate that 1.126 million tons are burned in landfills each year (pg.29). These emission factors are significantly different by over an order of magnitude and contradict the assumption that landfill fires and backyard burning have similar emission factors (pg. 20). Interestingly, if one uses the emission factor for backyard burning to estimate the amount of landfill waste burned each year, one calculates 14.66 million tons of landfill waste burned each year or an astonishing 11% of all landfill waste. This is not credible

In order to generate an emission factor for PCDD/F per kg of chloride in waste, and to utilize that as a way of estimating the contribution of PVC to PCDD/F emissions from landfill fires, TSAC regresses the TEQ output of experiments of Lemieux, Gullett et al. against chloride input, approximately as suggested in comments by Neurath. Lemieux, Gullett, et al. rejected the approach of reducing these experiments to a simple regression against a single variable for a number of reasons. First, they note the very wide range of data obtained from seemingly replicate experiments. As they are combustion scientists, they know that the generation of products of incomplete combustion can have a number of causes, but most are related to combustion variables.

The EPA authors went to great pains to attempt to separate effects of chloride from other combustion variables; those that could be controlled (size, compaction, wetness) and those that could not (temperature in the material, temperature above the fire, time of burning, burning rate etc.). It is for this reason that the authors, while acknowledging correlation between log TEQ and log Cl noted that 1) the correlation with log Cl is not equivalent to log PVC, implying that organic and inorganic chloride are indistinguishable and 2) the presence of correlation terms representing carbon monoxide and copper imply a mechanism that is more complex than simply a correlation with Cl. This observation is important and should not be lost.

Finally, given Lemieux and Lutes’ warning about lack of comparability of “barrel burning” to landfill fires, it is difficult to understand how carefully-managed combustion of PVC and mixtures in a gas-fired, fan-drafted incinerator (Yasuhara, Katami et al. 2003), (Katami, Yasuhara et al. 2002) is of any relevance to landfill fires—especially underground fires which are at the very least oxygen-starved rather than fan-drafted.

Landfill Fires

TSAC assumes that 1.126 million tons of waste is burned in landfills each year as described above. This is 0.86% of the total waste landfilled. TSAC also assumes that 95% of the waste is burned in surface landfill fires. A few simple calculations can demonstrate how questionable these numbers are.

• If one assumes landfill deliveries 240 days/yr, ~2300 major landfills in the U.S. (TriData Corp., 2002) and a daily cover of 6 inches of soil or equivalent to protect the previous day’s waste, to consume 1.126 million tons of waste per year would require 4740 major landfill fires/yr, each of which burned the entire day’s landfill waste. [(131.1 million tons/240x2300) x number of landfill fires/yr = 1.126 million tons]

• The California Integrated Waste Management Bureau estimated that there were 25 underground landfill fires in 15 years,. EPA, from a Swedish study estimates 3.3 above ground landfill fires for each underground fire (NCEA-EPA, 2006). Hence, since there are 188 landfills in California of the total 2314 U.S. landfills (TriData Corp., 2002) this suggests that there are 45 landfill fires/yr, about 1/100th of the number of landfill fires estimated above.

• If one assumes that these landfill fires are truck fires and if each waste truck carries 6 tons of waste, then there would be 187,667 truck fires/yr (1 fire every 116th truck), each fire completely consuming the entire contents in the truck.

• As another similar example, for the city of Chicago, it means that of the roughly 0.45 kg/person/day of landfill-bound waste generated by the nearly 3 million people (1.3 million kg per day) about 13,000 kg burns in the landfill every day. This is the equivalent of completely burning over two full 20 m3 packer trucks carrying 6 tonnes of material each—about one every six working hours--every collection day of the year. Physically, this would mean at least two fire company runs to a landfill every day or a dedicated fire brigade at every landfill. There would be a constant plume of black, oily smoke over every landfill, everywhere. This clearly does not happen.

These simple bounding calculations raise a serious question regarding the validity of the assumption that 1.126 million tons of waste is burned in landfills each year. The actual quantity appears to be significantly less. Importantly, EPA in its 2006 Sources document cautions that:

“Because no data could be located on characterization of landfill fires in the United States (i.e., number, type, mass of waste involved), the limited data available were judged inadequate for developing national emission estimates that could be included in the national inventory.”

TSAC has offered no new information or collaborating information to support their calculations or refute this caution. There is an extraordinary data gap here that must be filled if TSAC intends to calculate an impact of PVC on landfill fires. Actual, relevant data on the occurrence and magnitude of landfill fires is critical, especially given the importance TSAC has attributed to the impact of landfill fires.

Based on the simple examples described above, I would opine that the actual amount of landfill waste burned each year is about 1/100th of the amount used by TSAC. This is far more reasonable given what we know anecdotally about the incidence of true landfill fires. Using the UNEP Toolkit emission factor on this lower amount of burning material, landfill fires generate approximately 11 g TEQ/yr; if we use Lemieux and Gullett’s average emission factor of 76.8 ng TEQ/kg waste combusted, the number is less than one gram per year.

Finally, landfill fires aren’t as common as they once were. Part of the reason is that an ever-increasing percentage of the waste is passing through a transfer station or MFP before it goes to the landfill. Waste screening (load checking) efforts also help prevent landfill fires by keeping “hot” loads (i.e., BBQ or fireplace ashes) out of the landfill.


Regarding dioxin emissions from PVC in landfill and backyard fires, there is no scientific foundation for TSAC’s assumptions that:

• The estimation that 1.126 million tons of waste is burned in landfills each year despite four boundary calculations that indicate that this estimate is a factor of 100 too large. This analysis suggests that even the lowest TSAC estimate of dioxin emissions from landfill and backyard fires greatly overestimates the contribution from PVC.

• Emissions from burning barrel tests can be extrapolated to landfill fires, contrary to the advice of Lumieux, Lutes et al;

• The PVC contribution from landfill fires (Lemieux, Gullet et al.) can be extrapolated by regressing against the chlorine concentration, contrary to the advice of the authors of the study and their data showing that TEQ emissions are relatively independent of PVC content below 1%;

• Landfill fires and barrel burns have similar emission factors per kg of waste burned (p. 20), and contrary to the very different emission factors used elsewhere in the report for backyard burning (76.8 ng TEQ/kg, Lemieux, Gullett et al) and landfill fires (1000 ng TEQ/kg waste, UNEP Dioxin Toolkit) ;

• The data of Katami et al. and Yasuhara on PVC combustion in a gas-fired fan-drafted incinerator is relevant to landfill fires; or

• Landfill or backyard wastes contain 7.5% PVC;


A meaningful and scientifically defensible estimate of emissions from landfills and the contribution of PVC to these emissions will require knowledge of: 1) the amount of PVC entering landfills, 2) the number of landfill fires, 3) the quantity of waste burned, and 4) consensus on the appropriate emission factor for landfill fires. Absent this information, assignment of TEQ PCDD/F emissions from landfill fires as apart of a life cycle analysis is speculation at best. As called for in the Executive Summary (pg.12), if end-of-product-life phase of the life cycle is to be addressed, there needs to be “better data and modeling”.


Richard S. Magee Sc.D, P.E., BCEE
Research Professor


CIWMB. "Landfill Fires Guidance Document." Retrieved March 29, 2007, from
Katami, T., A. Yasuhara, et al. (2002). "Formation of PCDDs, PCDFs, and Coplanar PCBs from Polyvinyl Chloride during Combustion in an Incinerator." Environ. Sci. Tech. 36(6): 1320-1324.
Landfill Fires, Their Magnitude, Characteristics, and Mitigation (2002). Prepared by TriData Corporation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Lemieux, P. M., B. K. Gullett, et al. (2003). "Variables Affecting Emissions of PCDD/F from Uncontrolled Combustion of Household Waste in Barrels." J. Air & Waste Manage. Assoc. 53: 523-531.
Lemieux, P. M., C. C. Lutes, et al. (2004). "Emissions of organic air toxics from open burning: a comprehensive review." Progress in Energy and Combustion Sci. 30: 1-32.
NCEA-EPA. (2006). "An Inventory of Sources and Environmental Releases of Dioxin-Like Compounds in the United States for the Years 1987, 1995, and 2000 (EPA/600/P-03/002f, Final Report, November 2006)." Retrieved March 29, 2007, from
UNEP. (2005). "Standardized Toolkit for Identification and Quantification of Dioxin and Furan Releases, Second Edition." Retrieved March 29, 2007, from
Yasuhara, A., T. Katami, et al. (2003). "Formation of PCDDs PCDFs and Coplanar PCBs from Incineration of Various Woods in the Presence of Chlorides." Environ. Sci. Tech. 37(8): 1563-1567.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Peter Doo

Doo Consulting

Include Declare and Pharos under Option 1 compliance options.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Mark Rossi

MRc4 Material Ingredient Credit

BizNGO strongly supports the intent of MRc4 – Building product disclosure and optimization-material ingredients. We agree that the Health Product Declaration (HPD), Cradle to Cradle, and GreenScreen are all appropriate methods for supporting and/or selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances.


First bullet: “Manufacturer inventory path”: BizNGO recommends deleting this pathway because it is already addressed by the Health Production Declaration and Cradle to Cradle pathways, and it does not have a mechanism for verifying the information that is publicly posted.


Fifth bullet: “International Alternative Compliance Path – REACH Optimization.” BizNGO recommends deleting this pathway or lowering its weighting because it is not equivalent in terms of level of action required as the above three bullets related to GreenScreen and Cradle to Cradle. For example, the REACH list of substances of very high concern is a small subset of the list of chemicals that must be avoided under the GreenScreen or Cradle to Cradle pathways in this option. This essentially means that outside of the U.S., this credit will not act as a significant incentive to improve products as it rewards a level of practice that is increasingly common in the European market. If USGBC chooses to keep the fifth pathway, then lower its weighting to reflect the lack of equivalence to “value at 25% [not 100%] of cost.”


BizNGO recommends deleting Option 3 or moving it to the Pilot Library to allow for further discussion and evaluation. Option 3 is not equivalent to Options 1 and 2 in terms of degree of difficulty to implement – in fact, it provides 1 point for current practices. Unlike Options 1 and 2 that require action that only a relatively few businesses are taking (assuming BizNGO comments are accepted), Option 3 will “reward” the use of products for which commonly used “Processes are in place …” Option 3 rewards current practices not best practices. Additionally, no verification system is specified for determining whether the processes are actually implemented. Option 3 will create no market differentiation among products but will provide product teams with an easy point to capture.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Timothy Serie

The American Coatings Association (ACA) serves as a leading voice for paint and coatings manufacturers, raw materials suppliers, and distributors who provide a range of products that contribute to green building construction and design. Many types of architectural paint and coatings play a critical role in high-performance green building by increasing energy efficiency, improving indoor air quality, protecting critical elements of the building structure, and increasing the longevity of buildings finishes, ultimately reducing the need for virgin materials.

ACA supports the underlying intent of the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization Material Ingredients credit: to increase access to information that will allow consumers to make better informed choices regarding building materials and to create a healthier environment by limiting the use of chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the environment. ACA still believes, however, that the current options for chemical optimization are not suitable for determining whether a building material or product is acceptable for use on a LEED project. The criteria in this credit will discourage the use of otherwise sustainable building materials without necessarily promoting the use of safer or healthier alternatives. Also, the requirements in this credit are overly complex and would require substantial time and resources to demonstrate conformance. Given all the concerns noted above and the complexity of the options, project teams may not even consider attempting to achieve this credit.

Option 1. Material Ingredient Reporting

ACA supports transparency initiatives that increase access to information to allow consumers to make better informed choices regarding building materials while providing adequate protection for trade secrets to protect sensitive ingredient formulations. While ACA appreciates USGBC’s efforts to provide options that acknowledge the need for protection of intellectual property, ACA is still concerned with the available options in the current draft that reward the disclosure of ingredients beyond that which is needed to make informed choices regarding building materials and products. ACA strongly opposes those elements of the credit that encourage the public disclosure of trade secrets in a product without protecting this information.

Formulated products are unique and fundamentally different than other building materials. Paint and coatings producers depend on trade secrets – the formulations provide performance characteristics that distinguish manufacturer’s products – to advance coatings technology and remain competitive in the marketplace. Without adequate protection of intellectual property, sensitive product formulations will be exposed to competitors and other opportunistic parties. Many companies, especially in the paint and coatings industry, will choose not to participate in any ingredient reporting scheme without trade secret protections.

The first option requiring manufacturers to provide a publically available content inventory by identifying the ingredients according to their Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registration numbers is a step in the right direction. A manufacturer may omit the CAS number for trade secrets or intellectual property so long as the role, amount, and associated hazards (as defined by Green Screen Translator Benchmark 1) are disclosed. ACA is still concerned that disclosing the ingredients on the GreenScreen list, with no consideration for exposure and risk, will influence the product selection process and may drive consumers and specifiers to deselect high-performing, sustainable products that pose no risk to human health and the environment. ACA requests that USGBC further refine this approach, and in particular, how a manufacturer would make a declaration as to the role, amount, and associated hazards.

The second option requires that the end use product have a published, complete Health Product Declaration in compliance with the Health Product Declaration Open Standard. First, although the Health Product Declaration allows producers to choose to what extent they disclose their product ingredients, the program discourages producers from withholding any information by flagging this on the public disclosure. These red flags penalize producers who choose not to publically disclose their trade secrets and formulation details. Second, it is inappropriate for LEED to grant preferential treatment to any third-party program such as the Health Product Declaration. The credit should not specifically name the program; instead, the credit should allow the Health Product Declaration, like any other program that meets the requirements, to be used as one path to conformance for the first option.

ACA believes the third option, Cradle to Cradle v2 certification, should be removed from the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credit since it grants preferential treatment to a proprietary third-party certification program that was not developed in an open process. Furthermore, requiring third-party certification will also increase the cost of building materials for LEED projects. For paint and coatings in particular, there are only a few products for a limited number of building applications (among thousands) that are certified under the Cradle to Cradle program.

Option 2. Material Ingredient Optimization

ACA believes the current alternatives in the Material Ingredient Optimization option do not provide an appropriate pathway to reduce the use of chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the environment, especially for paint and coatings. The current options still rely on “red list” type approaches to chemicals management or on a proprietary third-party certification program. As this credit currently exists, there is no viable avenue for paint and coatings to contribute to the materials optimization since formulated products often contain common substances (e.g., crystalline silica or titanium dioxide) that are included on the various references lists even though these products do not pose any risk to building occupants in their final form. This credit should not force designers and specifiers to choose between product performance, which is essential for sustainability and functionality, and meeting the chemical avoidance criteria. ACA believes this option should be eliminated or amended to include other pathways for selecting products that do not rely on the outright elimination of certain materials.

ACA is still concerned with the use of the GreenScreen Benchmark 1 in the credit since the Benchmark 1 criteria were not intended for use as a stand-alone red list. The GreenScreen option awards credit for using products that have fully inventoried chemical ingredients that do not contain ingredients which fall under the GreenScreen Benchmark 1 list of hazards. The credit misuses the Green Screen list of hazardous characteristics by relying on the list to prohibit the use of certain chemicals. This misuse is especially inappropriate for paint and coatings since GreenScreen only addresses the ingredient makeup of a product and does not consider the characteristics of the final product. In the case of paint and coatings, the final product is a distinct and unique material which does not retain the same hazardous characteristics or pose the same risk as the individual ingredients in a separate form.

ACA still believes Cradle to Cradle should not be incorporated in the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credit since it forces producers to rely on a proprietary third-party certification program that was not developed in an open process. This option gives preferential treatment to one particular program. Furthermore, requiring third-party certification will also increase the cost of building materials for LEED projects. For paint and coatings in particular, there are only a few products for a limited number of building applications (among thousands) that are certified under the Cradle to Cradle program.

The international compliance option based on the European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances (REACH) also relies on a problematic red list. This option awards the use of products that do not contain substances from the REACH substances of very high concern list, which at the very least, identifies a limited number of priority chemicals. However, even the substances of very high concern are still authorized for use in the European Union under certain circumstances. ACA does not believe that the credit should reference the candidate list since these chemicals are, as the name suggests, candidates which have yet to be evaluated.

Option 3. Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization

ACA appreciates USGBC’s effort to create different options encouraging the use of products and materials that have preferable impacts down the supply chain. In contrast to Option 2, the Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization takes a holistic look at the impacts of the manufacturing process across the supply chain. This option may provide the best pathway for paint and coatings manufacturers to contribute to this credit.

However, we still have two concerns with Option 3. First, requiring 99% of the ingredients incorporated into the building materials to meet these requirements is too high. We suggest lowering the threshold to somewhere in the range of 50%. Second, the credit language itself does not adequately explain how Option 3 will be implemented. ACA requests that USGBC include language in Option 3 to clarify how this provision will be implemented in practice. We understand that some of the details will be left for the LEED v4 reference guide, but the critical elements of this option should be included in the credit language itself.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Erin Dempsey Istanbulluoglu

Tandus Centiva


MARCH 31, 2013

CENTIVA respectfully submits these comments on the LEEDv4 MR Credit 4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients. CENTIVA is an American manufacturer of luxury vinyl tile flooring and has been a member of the USGBC since 2003.

CENTIVA has reviewed and supports the comments by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) on the MR credit “Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients.”

CENTIVA supports the basis of Option 1 of this credit which rewards projects for using at least 20 products that provide material ingredient disclosure. We also support the consideration and provisions in place for disclosing ingredients that are proprietary in nature. We support the threshold of 0.1% (1000ppm) for any ingredients known to be carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or skin irritants as is required in the OSHA Hazard Communication standard. However, we recommend that, like the OSHA Hazard Communication standard, all other low-hazard or no-hazard chemicals require disclosure at a threshold of 1% (10,000ppm). Disclosure of non-hazardous chemicals to levels of 0.1% is both burdensome and costly to manufacturers and may reduce participation in the credit.

CENTIVA supports the use of multiple compliance options for Option 1. However, CENTIVA opposes use of the current options as listed. Green Screen, Cradle to Cradle, and the Health Product Declaration are all well-intentioned, but are not consensus-based standards developed through transparent processes. They do not share the guiding principles of the USGBC to “ensure inclusive, interdisciplinary, democratic decision-making”. Green Screen and the Health Product Declaration disclose chemicals of hazard regardless of their use, exposure in final products, or risk associated with that exposure. Therefore, they are not an indicator of healthy products, which is misleading and irrelevant in the conversation of human health. To indicate health, exposure and risk must be considered.

CENTIVA opposes Option 2 of this credit because it is a material avoidance credit that is clearly still premature for the marketplace. Initial versions of this credit were introduced into the pilot credit library and no results have been published or referenced. Subsequently, the credit has been proposed for LEEDv4 with significant alterations in each of the 6 drafts. In this, the 6th draft, comments are being submitted on yet another change before the comments from the 5th draft have even been published. The proposed credit language and subsequent lists have changed significantly with each consecutive draft of LEED 2012/LEEDv4 suggesting that USGBC does not have data to support the proposed compliance paths, only the intent to include material avoidance in the rating system. USGBC should consider the outcomes, and for the integrity of the organization, allow adequate development time, fair and balanced process, and piloting to determine if such a credit is justified. For these reasons, Option 2 of this credit should be removed.

Option 3, while well intentioned and commendable for its consideration of risk, is still itself in development and should also be piloted before inclusion in the rating system.

Finally, “USGBC approved programs” should be more clearly defined including the process by which they will be vetted, and the party responsible for providing approval.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Amanda Sturgeon

I am writing to encourage the USGBC to expand the list of approved programs to include Declare. Currently it is the only program that has an active, freely accessible list of products that are disclosing their ingredients. In the last comment phase USGBC sems to have misunderstood Declare as a program that only discloses Living Building Challenge red list ingredients, this is incorrect. Declare requires products to disclose all ingredients, then simply identifies which of those are on the red list as well as REACH and EPA lists. Green Screen hazards can easily be identified.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Susan Block Moores

My name is Susan Block Moores, AIA, LEED AP DC Living Building Challenge Collaborative Facilitator. I am writing to encourage the USGBC to include Declare as a compliance pathway for the Material Ingredient Reporting credit. Currently this credit requires full public disclosure of ingredients, but has not yet included Declare is the only product disclosure program that actually requires full transparency from suppliers. Declare meets the intent of the credit by providing an accessible resource for products selected through a rigorous methodology that promotes healthy materials minimizing harmful substances.

Declare has a much greater requirement for public disclosure of ingredients then either Cradle to Cradle or the Health Product Declaration. Cradle to Cradle has no public disclosure requirement. HPD manufacturers can choose to keep ingredients proprietary. Declare requires public disclosure of greater than 99% of ALL intentionally added ingredients. The remaining 1% that is allowed to remain proprietary cannot be on the Living Building Challenge Red list. The Red List on which Declare is based is similar to the C2C banned list and Green Screen Benchmark which is the basis of approved programs. Declare lists all ingredients in each product, not just Living Building Challenge Red List ingredients. It then identifies any of those ingredients that are on the Red List, US EPA Chemical of Concern Action Plan Published List, or the European Registration Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) Substances of Very High Concern. All ingredients including CASRN are disclosed on the Declare website. Declare already has a substantial and growing list of products that LEED teams can select from to ensure this pilot credit is achievable and successful in promoting the selection of products that have chemical ingredients inventoried and have minimized the generation of harmful substances.

Full disclosure is critical for an open and honest conversation between consumer and suppliers. Transparency moves the conversation past green washing and rewards companies that are willing to be honest about their product formulations. Declare is the only program with a requirement for full public disclosure.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Peggy White

I agree with and support the comments made by Jean Hansen regarding revisions to this Credit, and I agree with Marian Keeler that if this Credit is not fully revised and it is approved when LEED v4 is voted upon I will discourage my teams from using it. I also support Ivan Weber’s comments regarding the excessive complications of this Credit and the importance of ecological and human habitat considerations. We don’t have time to play green games when we are trying to create healthy, efficient buildings.

Title: Revise title to “Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredient Transparency.”

1. Simplify the Intent and be more direct. Delete first sentence. Clearly define ‘life-cycle’ in all its iterations elsewhere.
2. Revise second sentence to: “Reward product selection for which chemical ingredients in the product are inventoried and identified using an acceptable methodology, and for selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances.”
3. Delete last sentence – MRc1 already covers the life-cycle issue (poorly, but whatever…).

Delete “USGBC approved program.” Vague language and intent, and this concept goes against the established protocol of Credit development, which has always been (until lately) transparent and consensus based, with member approved decisions. This type of major process change should not be slipped into LEED at the last minute.

Revise language for Option 1 and Option 2 per Jean Hansen’s comments.

Delete Option 3 entirely.

Source Location:
100 miles, while an admirable idea, is simply not logistically achievable for 99.9% of projects, nor is it wise, from an air quality perspective, to cluster extraction and manufacturing adjacent to heavily populated areas. Remove or adjust back to 500 miles, which is a challenge for most projects.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Kerry Little

Flakeboard submits the following comments on this credit:
Given that “Materials & resources credits encourage using sustainable building materials and reducing waste” and that “Indoor environmental quality credits promote better indoor air quality and access to daylight and views,” one can support the validity and appropriateness of using performance-based criteria for project building materials in their ready-for-project use state under LEED MRc4 and MRc5.

The final chemical composition of project building materials may influence the outcome of measurements of the relevant performance-based evaluation criteria. However, even this is problematic when considering the composition of products that are bio-based and/or bio-derived. For example, wood-based project building materials may contain from about 88% to 98% wood, and for which there is no highly-detailed or consistent chemical composition or description. Also from a wood products point of view, a number of 'chemicals of concern' are emitted by natural wood. Acetaldehyde and formaldehyde are prime examples of biogenic chemicals 'of concern' as VOCs. There may be a host of other listed VOC chemicals that are biogenic as well, depending on the bio-component(s).

In the chain of production for project building materials, many chemical ingredients are converted to other compounds and/or are otherwise affected by the various processes to which they are subjected. Therefore there is questionable value regarding the relevance of ingredient identification and quantification to the ultimate performance of the project building materials under performance-based criteria. Also, many of the certification/registration programs for ingredient-based product assessments require disclosure of business confidential information – which is generally not acceptable to many industries. Finally, these programs have significant cost which must be passed on to the project level.

OPTION 1: Material Ingredient Reporting
When specifying standards and 3rd party programs, ideally, LEED should cite standards and certification programs that were developed with an open and consensus-based methodology (ANSI, ISO, etc.) and adequately achieve the sustainability goals. A voluntary consensus approach has proven to be effective because it allows relevant stakeholders, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to contribute in the development process, ensuring the final standards have broad market relevance.

Additional Comments:
Manufacturer Inventory – Using GreenScreen to disclose a hazard benchmark rather than the chemical red-list translator for Confidential Business Ingredients is a slight improvement, but still a hazard based classification system does not take into consideration actual risk to the end user based on actual pathways to exposure to the hazard, or on reaction products during manufacture of the item which changes the composition of the initial ingredient list.

Cradle-to-cradle basic or bronze certified – While this is easier to obtain initially, the path to optimization for re-certifying on an ongoing basis might be problematic for some ingredients for which there is not easy substitution and substitutions might be made on a hazard basis and not the actual risk to the end user.

Complete Health Product Declaration –There is currently a lack of consensus on HPD’s both in structure and content. This makes the information difficult to compare. In addition, much of the HPD information is still hazard based.

OPTION 2: Material Ingredient Optimization
GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmark – Still a hazard based system that is not based on risk to the end user based on actual pathways to exposure to the hazard, or on reaction products during manufacture of the item which changes the composition of the initial ingredient list.
Cradle to Cradle Certified – Including both v2 and v3 certification pathways can be confusing, especially when silver certification is accepted with v3 but not v2. That confusion aside, this is still a hazard based system that will dictate material substitution on hazard and not actual risk to the end user.
International Alternative Compliance Pathway – Again, this is a hazard based approach that does not account for actual risk to the end user.

OPTION 3: Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization
This new option does incorporate some aspects of risk and risk management, which is an improvement, but no examples of the types of programs or certification programs that satisfy the requirements are given. In addition, the 99% hurdle is too high; products of companies that meet the requirements will be hard pressed to comprise 25% of the building cost. This also provides no real benefit for companies that provide ingredients at small percentages into downstream end products, especially where other ingredients in those end-products might come from an industry or type for which this certification is not available. The inclusion of the option to reach the 25% cost threshold by combining options 2 and 3 is intriguing, but as no valuation formula is included, it will likely be difficult to practically implement.
Comments on sourcing weightings:
Synergies of economic, social and environmental benefits exist in many products born of a number of value add processes. Their material streams often begin with co-location of raw material sources and downstream manufacturing processes, which reduces operating cost and carbon footprint. Basing the ‘economically preferable’ criteria of this credit solely on a very small project radius does not recognize the economic benefits of the region’s broader supply chains. In addition, it may in fact limit project teams from being able to source more environmentally preferable products, or even adequate quantities of materials that meet credit criteria, sacrificing the entire credit for the sake of source location. An additional weighting should be added which values products that meet the option criteria at 100%, where source location falls outside the regional boundary.

Balanced recognition of materials that optimize resources, add value to the economy, and meet or exceed the criteria of this credit can be achieved with the following changes to the source location weightings:
Award source location weightings as follows:
• Products sourced within a 100 mile (160 km) radius of the project site are valued at 200% of their cost
• Products sourced within a 500 mile (800 km) radius of the project site are valued at 150% of their cost
• Products sourced outside of 500 mile (800 km) radius of the project site are valued at 100% of their cost

4 years 42 weeks ago

Marian Keeler

Thornton Tomasetti

I'm an architect and have been managing LEED projects since v2.0. Good to see that USGBC has embraced the idea that designers, specifiers, builders and building occupants need to know what is in the building materials that comprise the spaces where we live, work and play. Information is a good thing. The question is, how do we streamline the information-gathering, the compilation of data, the presentation, documentation and proof of compliance to a LEED reviewer? Not only is this credit confusing and vaguely worded, but it will create a miasma for LEED reviewers which will trickle down to project teams and clients. LEED teams will take active steps to avoid these credits, not because they are unattainable, but because they are needlessly excessive in terms of documentation. I will continue to advise my clients to specify only materials which are engineered with human health impacts in mind and from mfrs who are transparent about the hazards posed by exposure to their products. However, I will now advise them not to pursue the onerous and unreasonable documentation requirements--this credit will be noted in the "no" column of our scorecards.

I sincerely hope that USGBC will reconsider the credit documentation requirements as well as the noteworthy issues raised by so many others as to the varying rigor of the credit standards.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Jean Hansen

LEED MRc4 – public comment #6 response:

1. Great credit in many ways: supports disclosure and assessment and product improvement or optimization. Support the improvement of the language describing the HPD and GreenScreen in this version. Suggestions for additional improvements follow:
a. This credit is getting more complicated and teams will not only walk away, but run away from using it. Please simplify.
2. There are some issues regarding the three paths that seriously threatens to make this credit unworkable in the method that the industry is trying to bring about for standardization, assessment and optimization:
a. Option 1 Path 1: we cannot allow a product to contribute to the inventory point if the manufacturer posts and unstructured, non-standard incomplete inventory of ingredients without a disclosure of hazards. It cannot be weighted the same as the HPD and C2C as it would remove all incentives to and HPD or C2C.
b. Option 2 Path 5: Products cannot contribute to the optimization point if they only meet current or coming regulatory minimums in the EU (REACH SVHC lists) or get the same credit as GreenScreen Benchmark One and C2C paths, while avoiding the list of chemicals that is only a small fraction of GreenScreen or C2C lists. We need the products to disclose and assess the hazard of ingredients used.
c. Option 3: This is challenging with an unspecified program allowed to identify, document and communicate about and optimize health, safety and environmental issues. This could end up being a program that could be a direct threat to all this credit is trying to do.
3. The credit needs simplification. The best way to simplify the credit is to provide pathways to two Options (at this time). For 1 point – install 20 products from 5 different manufacturers and 5 different product spec sections with either one of the following:
a. Health Product Declaration plus GreenScreen
b. Cradle to Cradle certification
4. Moving forward:
a. Give one point for disclosure and assessment by either HPD or C2C. (see #3 above)
b. Give another point for demonstrating improved product (optimization) in each option of products that have been disclosed and assessed. The additional point comes from the HPD or C2C documentation and demonstrated optimization from 20 installed products with any combination of the following:
For HPD:
i. 25% credit for avoiding REACH chemicals
ii. 100% credit for avoiding GreenScreen Benchmark 1 Chemicals
iii. 200% credit for avoiding GreenScreen Benchmark 1 Chemicals by full GreenScreen assessments
For C2C:
iv. 100% for Silver
v. 200% for Gold
vi. 300% for Platinum
5. Move Supply Chain optimization credit to the Pilot Library to be tested and developed.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Kevin Seagraves

IVC US, Inc.
Resilient Vinyl Flooring

Our company has reviewed and supports the comprehensive and detailed comments submitted by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute on the credit entitled "MR Credit 4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization-Material Ingredients."

We at IVC US, Inc., generally support Option 1 of this credit which provides for material ingredients disclosure, however, the 0.1% (1000ppm) threshold for disclosure is unnecessarily burdensome and expensive. Instead, the credit should follow OSHA hazard communication standard of 1% for all ingredients except carcinogens, reproductive toxins and skin sensitizers for which the threshold is 0.1%.

We at IVC US, Inc. strongly oppose Option 2 of this credit. Plasticized PVC materials, such as vinyl flooring, should not be penalized for the simple fact that the overall safety of the end product is not being taken into consideration based on exposure across the entire life cycle. Life-cycle assessments for many PVC products, such as vinyl flooring, show they have lower human health and environmental impacts across their life cycles than many alternative products made without PVC.

We at IVC US, Inc., cannot support Option 3 at this time. It is not clear what these processes entail, who will verify them, or whether it will be technically or financially feasible to implement these processes.

Kevin Seagraves
IVC US, Inc.

4 years 42 weeks ago

Kristi Ennis

This credit has become exceedingly complex. Project teams will definitely think twice before attempting this credit, due to the high administrative costs of managing and documenting it. The USGBC has the opportunity here to make a significant impact in the marketplace, but will lose that unless this credit is simplified and meaningful.

The “Manufacturer’s Inventory” and “International Alternative Compliance Path” pathways are not sufficiently stringent. Paths allowed should be equal to the HPD, GreenScreen and/or C2C pathways, and require disclosure of hazard. The concept of allowing a “USGBC Approved Program” to be named later is only acceptable if the requirements for such a program are laid out for the voting body to approve. Voters should not have to give the USGBC carte blanche – especially when it could effectively dilute credit requirements. The “Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization” pathway does not appear ready for prime time either. The voting body does not have enough information about how this would result in safer products.

4 years 42 weeks ago

David Rinard

Option 1

1. Comment on Manufacturer Inventory:
The requirement to use Green Screen v1.2 should allow the use of the List Translator so that a manufacturer would not be required to have expertise in toxicology or hire outside services in order to make a valid assessment of the ingredient as it relates to the Green Screen benchmark level.

2. Comment on Health Product Declarations:
Remove HPD’s from the standard and move to a Pilot Credit until they have been thoroughly developed. HPDs are based on an emerging standard and the concept is under development. In addition the development of the procedures and formats are not considered a true consensus development process, and input is still being solicited from users. Inclusion in a Pilot Credit would be consistent with how LEED handled other evolving standards, tools, and analyses that were introduced into LEED while they were being evaluated and refined in the marketplace.

3. Comment on Cradle to Cradle:
When specifying standards and 3rd party programs, LEED should cite standards and certification programs that were developed with an open and consensus-based methodology (ANSI, ISO, etc.) and that adequately achieve the intended sustainability goals. A voluntary consensus approach has proven to be effective in part because it allows relevant stakeholders, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to contribute in the development process, ensuring the final standards have broad market relevance. The Cradle to Cradle standard was not developed using this process.

We encourage USGBC to adopt true consensus based standards and therefore should include the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Sustainability Standard under the Material Ingredient Reporting Credit.

Option 1 Material Ingredient Reporting - Additional Pathway

Furniture and furnishings products may demonstrate compliance by earning BIFMA level® Certification, or certification by an ISO Guide 65 accredited body, demonstrating compliance with ANSI/BIFMA e3-2012 Credit or Effects of Product level Chemicals.

Option 2

1. OPTION 2: Comment on GreenScreen V 1.2 Benchmark
There is no indication of cut off level for material ingredient optimization. A baseline threshold of 1000 ppm is suggested consistent with Option 1 of Material Ingredient Reporting. Please change the following sentence from: “Products that have fully inventoried chemical ingredients that meet the following:” to “Products that have inventoried chemical ingredients to at least 0.1% (1000 ppm) by weight of final product and that meet the following:”.

2. OPTION 2: Comment on Material Ingredient Optimization – Additional Pathway
For the reasons cited above under Option 1, specifically for furniture, an additional option should be added:

“Furniture and furnishings products may demonstrate compliance by earning BIFMA level® Certification, or certification by an ISO Guide 65 accredited body, demonstrating compliance with ANSI/BIFMA e3-2012 Credit 7.5.1. Elimination From Products. When listed chemicals are shown not to be present from 2 hazard classifications, value these products at 50% of cost; from 3 hazard classifications at 100% of cost; and from 4 hazard classifications at 150% of cost.”

ANSI/BIFMA e3 Credit 7.5.1 - Requires elimination of listed chemicals (down to 100 ppm in final products) in one to four human and ecosystem health hazard classifications (C, MR, ED, PBT).

Option 3

Towards the end of the Building Product disclosure and optimization credit it states:

For Options 2 and 3, products that meet the above criteria are valued according to source location (extraction, manufacture, and purchase point must be within the distances noted below):
• Products sourced within 100 miles of the project site are valued at 200% of their cost.
Final product value is determined by the following equation:
(base product value x valuation factor due to optimization path)*(valuation factor due to location)

There is no location factor given if products are not sourced within 100 miles of the project site. At a minimum they should specify something to the effect “all others are valued to 100%”.

While well intended, a credit encouraging local sourcing actually drives an extremely unsustainable outcome. To achieve product sourcing within 100 miles would require manufacturers and material suppliers to establish sourcing and manufacturing within 100 miles of everywhere in the world. The environmental and financial impact of such a concept would be staggering. Therefore, we recommend eliminating the “valuation factor due to location idea” from the credit.

4 years 43 weeks ago

Arjen Sevenster

We object to the fact that most of the proposed compliance criteria fail to take into account proper life-cycle evaluations or to consider the best material from a life-cycle perspective. The key criteria should be minimizing environmental impacts as evidenced by a proper life cycle assessment carried out in accordance with ISO standards, and a risk assessment taking into account the actual exposure of workers and users during production, installation, use and eventual dismantling of the building.
The mere fact that a material contains substances classified as hazardous for human health or the environment does not mean that the resulting risk is unacceptable, if the said substance is tightly bound in the material’s matrix and hence its bioavailability and/or potential evaporation or leaching out is low. A material with a lesser hazard classification, but less tightly bound, may actually have more damaging effects. An “optimized” product may therefore be worse for health or the environment if it brings larger overall health or environmental burdens associated with its manufacture, use or disposal.
In its current design, the proposed credit would pick winners and losers among chemicals, materials and products without fair, balanced, life-cycle risk/exposure evaluations.
Disclosing important information about materials in products through SDS reporting has been a standard industrial practice for years. Unfortunately, this credit does not improve the SDS process for a number of reasons:
• The Cradle to Cradle rating tool, as well as some other proposed tools, is a private program not developed according to an open, consensus process. They judge materials based on simplistic hazard considerations without regard for risk/exposure analysis. If USGBC wishes to include such tools as compliance path for this credit, these tools should be vetted through a transparent, public process with the aim of building true consensus.
• Requiring publication of a “complete content inventory” of a product’s ingredients goes beyond even the stated intent of this credit to identify hazardous ingredients.
• Requiring publication of the “amount” of each ingredient takes a step too far toward exposing confidential business information.
• The 0.1% (1000 ppm) compliance threshold for reporting hazardous ingredients as defined by the Global Harmonized System needs to be harmonized across all three compliance path options in MRc4 and should be based on already accepted international levels. Reporting thresholds of 1% or more for general ingredients would be more appropriate. A level of 0.1% for toxins is more practical and conforms to definitions and levels established by GHS for chemicals. USGBC should conform to GHS since chemical ingredient and product manufacturers are already taking steps to comply with it.
• Excluding use of certain REACH-listed substances undermines the principle of REACH, which is to authorize use of substances or mixtures that present no harm in their intended uses. Tying the credit to substances on the REACH Candidate List is even less logical as these chemicals have not even been put to the REACH test to ascertain acceptability for continued use. Indeed, the REACH Candidate list is purely based on hazard and as such triggers very limited legal requirements in REACH.

4 years 43 weeks ago

Eric Doyle

Catalyst Partners

My name is Eric Doyle and I work for Catalyst Partners, a longstanding USGBC member. I’ve worked on dozens of LEED certified projects including our own LEED Platinum certified building with 66 of 69 points under LEED-NC v2.2.

I am writing to encourage the USGBC to include Declare as a compliance pathway for this credit. Declare should be included because it meets the intent of the credit by providing an accessible resource for products selected through a rigorous methodology that promotes healthy materials minimizing harmful substances. As the project manager of an active Living Building Challenge project and having an in-depth understanding of other certification protocols through my past employment and collaboration with Steelcase, I know that Declare has a much greater requirement for public disclosure of ingredients then either Cradle to Cradle or the Health Product Declaration. Full transparency is necessary.

Declare requires public disclosure of greater than 99% of ALL intentionally added ingredients. (the remaining 1% that is allowed to remain proprietary cannot be on the Living Building Challenge Red list)

The Red List on which Declare is based is similar to the C2C banned list and Green Screen Benchmark which are the basis of approved programs.

Declare lists all ingredients in each product, not just Living Building Challenge Red List ingredients. It then identifies any of those ingredients that are on the Red List, US EPA Chemical of Concern Action Plan Published List, or the European Registration Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) Substances of Very High Concern. All ingredients including CASRN are disclosed on the Declare website.

Declare already has a substantial and growing list of products that LEED teams can select from to ensure this pilot credit is achievable and successful in promoting the selection of products that have chemical ingredients inventoried and have minimized the generation of harmful substances. This is especially beneficial for projects such as the one that I am currently working on which is pursuing both LEED and Living Building Challenge certification.

Full disclosure is critical for an open and honest conversation between consumer and suppliers. Transparency moves the conversation past green washing and rewards companies that are willing to be honest about their product formulations. Declare is the only program with a requirement for full public disclosure.

4 years 43 weeks ago

ML Vidas

Mary Louise Vidas, Vidas Architecture
Bend Oregon

I am a long-time member of the USGBC and have worked on numerous LEED buildings. I am writing to encourage the USGBC to include Declare as a compliance pathway for this credit. Declare should be included because it is comprehensive and proven.

Full disclosure is critical for an open and honest conversation between consumer and suppliers. Transparency moves the conversation past green washing and rewards companies that are willing to be honest about their product formulations. Declare is the only program with a requirement for full public disclosure.

Declare meets the intent of this credit by providing an accessible resource for products selected through a rigorous methodology that promotes healthy materials minimizing harmful substances.

Declare has a much greater requirement for public disclosure of ingredients than either Cradle to Cradle or the Healthy Product Declaration.

o Cradle to Cradle has no public disclosure requirement

o HPD manufacturers can choose to keep ingredients proprietary

Declare requires public disclosure of greater than 99% of ALL intentionally added ingredients. (The remaining 1% that is allowed to remain proprietary cannot be on the Living Building Challenge Red list).

Declare lists all ingredients in each product, not just Living Building Challenge Red List ingredients. It then identifies any of those ingredients that are on the Red List, US EPA Chemical of Concern Action Plan Published List, or the European Registration Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) Substances of Very High Concern. All ingredients including CASRN are disclosed on the Declare website.

Declare already has a substantial and growing list of products that LEED teams can select from to ensure this pilot credit is achievable and successful in promoting the selection of products that have full chemical ingredients inventoried and have minimized the generation of harmful substances.


ML Vidas
March 28, 2013

4 years 43 weeks ago

Kenner Kingston

ILFI Living Building Challenge program Declare should be a reference standard/compliance path for this credit.

4 years 43 weeks ago

William Hull

Regarding Option 2 of MR Credit: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients:
- The language of this credit in the 6th draft of LEED v.4 continues to stipulate a challenging and problematic approach. We reiterate that the most appropriate and effective approach would be development of risk-based criteria, as has been proposed in other credit areas of the LEED draft (for example, in the IEQ credit for Low Emitting Interiors). The criteria in this latest draft remain effectively hazard-based. The programs referenced, including GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmark and REACH- Authorization or Candidate lists would unnecessarily limit the technology options available to the industry to develop safe and cost-effective building components and materials. We again encourage the USGBC to remove this language and replace it with a more performance-based approach to achieving the desired objective.
- We also recommend a clarification to the option referencing the GreenScreen program. The current draft includes a reference to “fully inventoried chemical ingredients to 100 ppm”. The language should clarify what this concentration is referring to (does this refer to the chemical composition of a finished product?). The language should also outline what methodologies should be used to measure and certify the concentrations.

4 years 43 weeks ago

Ivan Weber

Escalating complexity is not a virtue, in and of itself, however laudable the objectives may be. If you're going to do this, then making MATERIAL EFFECTS a part of this "disclosure and optimization" evaluation should be incorporated. Specifically, the ecological and human habitat values of sourcing and processing of ingredients should be considered. Examples might include PVC manufacturing, which spreads impacts far and wide; metals mining and beneficiation, which creates drastic acid solutions to dissolve and spread toxic constituents, as well as to mobilize certain toxics in concentrated form that are not subject to immobilization by neutralization (i.e., they remain bioavailable at high pH --- lead, selenium, arsenic are examples); and constituents that degrade human health in exposed communities, particularly dioxins, furans, PCBs, and so forth. Magnesium is likely to be a source of profound ecological impacts regardless of the current manufacturing process, due to highly damaging past impacts at magnesium plants (e.g., the U.S. Magnesium/MagCorp site in Utah, which is entering an enormous Superfund cleanup process that will last decades). Acid mine drainage, particularly, is an ancillary effect of metals extraction that can dwarf other aspects of the process, especially when whole-system impacts are included.
In short, if you try to minimize the breadth of these impacts, then you foreclose on future efforts to illuminate these effects.

How you handle the disposal end of some material histories is also critical, as you know: Dioxins formed when copper wire is burned for metals recycling; dioxins (again) formed when combustion of roofing membranes (PVC, particularly, but many types feed this process) is incomplete; poor storage of fly ash releases compounds to dwarf the benefits of fly ash replacement of cement. It goes on and on.

Where are these effects to be addressed? You really can't do one without all the others, especially since many of these are more significant than the subject of the current draft language, here.

4 years 43 weeks ago

Susan Gitlin

We encourage and support USGBC in its efforts to reward manufacturers who are transparent about the chemical substances and other chemical ingredients or materials that comprise their installed products (Option 1) and seek to use safer substances, ingredients and materials (Option 2). Ideally, we would welcome disclosure to include the chemical substances, other chemical ingredients, such as reaction product mixtures, naturally occurring materials that were used in the manufacture and/or installation of the installed product; however, taking a first step at providing a more transparent approach is of value. The potential for exposure to human or environmental health hazards from chemical substances and other ingredients are an important aspect in considering the lifecycle impacts of any product, including building products, and therefore we support the inclusion of this optional credit.

Suggestions for Improvements:
Overall, the language is very confusing and may discourage LEED users from attempting to obtain points under this credit. It would be best to simplify this credit, preferably down to only options 1 and 2.
Additionally, in option 2, the final compliance option, the International Alternative Compliance Path, does not create the same level of transparency as the previous routes of compliance. Instead of requiring optimization of all materials and ingredients, it simply asks the manufacturer to ensure it does not include any chemicals listed in the REACH Protocol. Given this, this method of meeting the credit would be much easier than any other, and cannot be considered a comparable path. We suggest removing this, unless it can be made more comparable to the other methods by adding additional disclosure requirements that go beyond the minimums of the REACH Protocol.
For option 3, the requirements and stringency of these processes are truly going to impact how useful this compliance option becomes; as written it is very unclear of the impact this option will have. Regardless, Option 3 is getting at different issues than those of chemical disclosure and optimization found in options 1 and 2. While the first two options seek to push chemical transparency and fundamentally safer chemical use in products, option three seeks to improve chemical communication and actions along the supply chain. As written, it is unclear if it would do anything to eliminate potentially harmful chemicals from product production. We would recommend removing option three from this credit. If possible, it would be best to pilot this option as a stand-alone credit related to supply chain communication and transparency.

4 years 43 weeks ago

John Pastuck

This comment is submitted on behalf of Formosa Plastics Corporation, U.S.A. (Formosa) of 9 Peach Tree Hill Road, Livingston, NJ, a manufacturer of both suspension and dispersion PVC resin.

Formosa has reviewed and supports the comprehensive and detailed comments submitted by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute on the credit entitled "MR Credit 4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Material Ingredients." Formosa also supports comments submitted by the Vinyl Institute related to LEED v4.

In general, Formosa believes that the USGBC unjustifiably targets PVC products and PVC products containing phthalates for de-selection. Formosa objects in the strongest possible terms to Option 2. The PVC Task Group reached a conclusion that the PVC material avoidance credit in LEED is unwarrantedand but that determination was ignored by USGBC. GreenScreen and Cradel to Cradle are not widely accepted or understood to be used successfully and REACH should not be used as this regulatory structure is not consistent with the approach that USGBC is adopting. Formosa has submitted many dossiers under REACH and has registered substances and pre-registered many others. The use of the REACH SVHC list is not a valid approach for a screening tool for USGBC.

In addtiion, Formosa generally supports Option 1 with the correction that the threshold be set to 1% rather than 0.1% except for carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and skin sensitizers for which the threshold should be 0.1% . This would make the standard consistent with the US OSHA Hazard Communication Standard and the new GHS requirements.

Formosa does not support Option 3 at this time. This Option requires a manufacturer of an eligible product to demonstrate that its ingredients suppliers have six ill-defined “processes” in place. It is not clear what these process entail, who will verify them, or whether it will be technically or financially feasible to implement them. This Option should go through pilot credit testing before it is included in LEED v4.

Life-cycle assessments for many PVC products, from vinyl siding, window profiles, PVC piping and vinyl composition tile, show they have lower human health and environmental impacts across their life cycles than many alternative products made without PVC. The LEED Steering Committee’s May 14, 2007 policy recommendation specifically called for the expanded use of risk assessment principles for materials decisions, Formosa would support a risk assessment approach, but we have not seen this method applied to PVC to date.

4 years 43 weeks ago

Clara Fiuza

Our colleagues from Sika Corporation, together with the American High Performance Building Coalition and American Chemistry Council have been working with the USGBC to improve the process by which LEED credits are introduced and / or revised. These are higher-level policy discussions which, to date, have generated a modest degree of success. Sika believes that implementation of an effective consensus decision process would result in the greatest improvement in both the process and result. Furthermore, when operating in the public sector, using public money, it is mandatory to implement an effective consensus process.

In the current process, most stakeholders react to proposals offered by the LEED Steering Committee. This fundamental flaw leads to the back and forth debates witnessed with the multiple LEED 2012 / v4 revisions. This process does not harvest the creative input of your stakeholders, only their reactionary, often defensive responses. Another unintended consequence of his current process is an increase in the rating systems complexity. With development of optional ANSI consensus codes (IGCC, ASHRAE 189.1, etc), increasing LEED’s complexity will reduce its marketability.

At the level below process improvement, it is frustrating that technical recommendations (such as, use of GHS in MRc4 or VOC emission testing by CDPH or AgBB in MRc5) made by competent scientists and engineers during the comment period are not replied to by the USGBC. The aim of these technical recommendations is to share lessons learned elsewhere in the world or developed as a result of in-house experience. Had the process permitted sharing these ideas upfront, it is likely they would not be a point of discussion at this time.

Finally, we would suggest that harnessing the creative energy of each of your stakeholder groups in a true consensus process would result in a more transformative rating system and one that can be made to work.

Regarding your feedback on this credit, we thank you for your input, but you missed our major points, especially in what concerns VOC. We would appreciate your response on the following:

GreenScreen v1.2 and Cradle to Cradle are proprietary systems built on lists of lists that have not been fully vetted by an inclusive stakeholder group. Furthermore, availability of these Benchmark lists often requires a financial commitment. An acceptable program must be based on a multi stakeholder, ANSI type vetting process, made public. It would be important to address programs which not only look at toxicity but also take into account the risk or the exposure element before forbidding a given substance, like Cradle to Cradle does (there are even two versions of Cradle to Cradle listed in the credit!).

A new option on Product Manufacturer Supply Chain Optimization has been added, which seems to be a step in the right direction by taking into account hazard considerations. Nevertheless, it is not really clear how it would be implemented nor valued but we’d be available to support USGBC in fine-tuning the language.

For consistency and clarity purposes, VOC content limitations for wet- applied products should be restricted to indoor applications (like in LEED New Construction).

Why not allow emission testing for US projects to be done according to CDPH or AgBB (as for the rest of the world)?

For wet applied products, one VOC test methods should be enough, and the manufacturer should be allowed to test and certify the result.

The “USGBC approved program option” is indefinite and should be eliminated. We understand you added it to allow for “future development around the criteria cited in the credit language”, but leaving it will lead to confusion and uncertainty. Part of the consensus process means stating clearly what we’re going to do; unless it is built in later on via a consensus based process, it is not acceptable.

Finally on the product source location valuation, this is a source of potential confusion to the project teams: is the purpose to reduce environmental impacts (a basic goal of LEED) or is it to encourage the support of local economies? How is a project team to choose between a local product with more environmental impacts and a product brought from over 100 miles away which has a low impact? Buying local does not mean a better environmental footprint or a lower cost. And a specialty construction chemicals manufacturer would seldom (if ever) be able to fulfill this criterion. The 500 miles radius was removed; why not remove this uplift item entirely?

4 years 43 weeks ago

Mike Manzi

This credit has gotten overly complicated and offers options that dilute the intent. The Manufacturer Inventory path in Option 1 allows content to be withheld and only requires GreenScreen benchmark reporting which could include Benchmark U, Unspecified. It's hard to imagine why any manufacturer would chose either of the other two paths for this Option, resulting in no useful information about the product content or health effects. Keep the HPD path as is, and the C2C path with a hazard/optimization report card (C2C alone does not meet the disclosure intent of the credit). Delete the Manufacturer Inventory path, as this does not encourage transparency beyond the status quo.

In Option 2, the International Alternative Compliance path provides equal credit to the other paths without disclosure or hazard assessment ,and without addressing many of the chemicals that the other paths would address. Option 3 is ill-defined, could easily be manipulated by industries who have no interest in the goals of this credit, and would be impossible to analyze by design teams. Again, these two optimization options create little incentive for real improvement. Simplify this to include HPD documentation plus weighted scoring for avoiding REACH chemicals (low), Benchmark 1 chemicals via GreenScreen List Translator (medium), and Benchmark 1 via Full GreenScreen Assessment (high); and a weighted option for C2C Silver (low), Gold (medium) and Platinum (high).

4 years 43 weeks ago

Jim H. White

Having been invovled with committee work for decades I see the possibility that this credit system has become complicated enough that it will not be used. I am concerned that those who supply products do not seem to have the full responsibility for ensuring that their suppliers, and those one further teir down, are not fully responsible for seeing that all requirements are met. Am I mistaken?

4 years 43 weeks ago

Arthur Young

I am surprised at the changes regarding MRc4 : Building product disclosure and material ingredients -- from the previous version. The new ones are so complex and complicated. Simplicity and clarity are keys to behavior change and adoption.

4 years 43 weeks ago

Donald Davies

There should not be a limit on 30% of the value on structure and enclosure materials. Yes that is likely the largest system costs and thus the place to most efficiently target for this credit, but isn't that the point? By putting in this limitation, you dis-incentivise going after location with the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gasses in the overall development.

4 years 44 weeks ago

Mike Cudahy


MRc4 : Building product disclosure and optimization – material ingredients

Current Intent:

To encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts. To reward project teams for selecting products for which the chemical ingredients in the product are inventoried using an accepted methodology and for selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances. To reward raw material manufacturers who produce products verified to have improved life-cycle impacts.

Modify as follows:

To encourage the selection of products for which ISO compliant life-cycle information is publicly available and that have environmentally and economically preferable life-cycle impacts.


The section does not reward project teams, or manufacturers, it applies points to buildings if certain products are selected based on a known material inventory. There is no TRACI category or other scientific way to measure “social life cycle impacts” with these programs. The only issue of concern is that the products being compared present lower potential exposure risks to occupants.


USGBC approved program. Products that comply with building product optimization criteria approved by USGBC.


Other programs need to be vetted in the process of developing the next version of LEED and not just added after LEED V4 is developed with no ability for the public to comment or raise issue. USGBC and LEED will be able to influence the market development of programs relevant to LEED but it should do so in an even and consistent manner.

While the development of potentially useful programs does not always happen on a similar update cycle to the rating system, it is unfair that some programs are vetted and some will not.

Delete “Green Screen” and “Cradle to Cradle”


These appear to be private, non-consensus programs. These programs are another potential "red-list" for unwarranted de-selection and avoidance or unfair, biased de-selection of products. Please focus on consensus based programs and ISO compliant Life Cycle Analysis for product selection. Anything else is potentially gaming the system.

Delete Sentence:

For the scope of this credit, furniture, piping, pipe insulation, ducts, duct insulation, conduit, plumbing fixtures, faucets, showerheads, and lamp housing may be included if they are included consistently in cost-based Materials and Resources credits.


This language doesn’t mean anything and clutters the section. A short list of what “may” be included seems very unusual and serves no purpose. For a proper document, list every product that can be included, or every product that cannot be included, or do neither.

4 years 44 weeks ago

Chris Mundell


Intent for this credit is great, but many of us believe the options and paths are too confusing. Recommend keeping this credit simple for this version until the market can catch up with the full intent.

4 years 45 weeks ago

M San Miguel Paulson

Is Option 2 worth 1 Point? For all MR credits, are HVAC units excluded? MEP equipment is not specifically excluded in the credit language, which can be problematic for projects with Data Centers or Laboratories included in the scope of work.

4 years 46 weeks ago

Anne Milewski

Why are only a few third party certification systems mentioned? In previous versions the USGBC mentions Green Seal and Greenguard by name but have neglected to mention them here.