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LEED v4 Diminishes Woodworker’s Potential Credits

3/28/2014 4:00:00 PM
Article by Rob Ziegelmeier

The dramatic changes that have transpired in the material and resources section of LEED v4 have put custom woodworkers at an extreme disadvantage in helping projects earn these credits. Not only have the total credits been reduced, but also the ability for small custom manufacturers to satisfy some of the requirements.

In previous versions of LEED, the following credits were worth one or two points each: materials reuse, recycled content, regional materials, rapidly renewable (now referred to as bio-based), and certified wood. In LEED v4 all of these combined are worth only one point.

In one option, in which a credit is worth one point, the project must use at least twenty different, permanently installed products, from at least five different manufacturers; so, potentially your work could be worth 1/20th of one point.

A new credit which deals with material ingredients requires disclosure of chemical breakdowns from 1000 parts per million down to 10 parts per million. At Greenbuild 2013 they talked about manufacturers disclosing this information through Health Product Declarations, but they were referring to very large companies that control all elements that go into their product, not custom fabricators.

Taking this disclosure a step further, understand that every color you mix in the finishing process has a different chemical composition and would require an individual Health Product Declaration for each color. Just about every project I have ever done requires custom color and custom woodworkers simply can’t afford the time or money to accomplish this type of disclosure.

The bottom line is that we might now be able to help the project achieve 2 points in this section of the LEED program, whereas we were able to help them achieve 8 points previously. Does this make sense? I always thought wood was one of the most environmentally friendly building materials available!    
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