Part 2: How LEED v4 impacts concrete masonry

Part II: “Concrete Masonry’s Contribution to LEED v4″ 

Written by Heidi Jandris and Jennifer Wagner. This blog is part of a two-part series. Part I of this blog series is entitled “Concrete Masonry is Sustainable” and was published in High Profile’s green issue in November 2016, and in Masonry Design Magazine.  Part II is published in High Profile’s March 2017 issue.

In part one of this two-part blog series, an overview of how concrete masonry is sustainable due to its resiliency, durability, efficiency and versatility was provided. In addition to lowering the environmental footprint of buildings, using masonry can also help provide valuable Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points in your next design project. Here’s how.

LEED has always made it a priority to propel and push industry to redefine what makes a material sustainable for manufacturers, designers and building owners. The definition of what makes a building material green has evolved in the new version of LEED (version 4). LEED v4, as it is now known, came into full effect on October 31st, 2016. For building materials, LEED v4 takes into account a broad range of considerations, including regional sourcing, recycled content and the environmental and health impacts over a product’s life cycle.

Compared to previous versions of LEED, LEED v4 takes a more holistic approach to defining a green building material with a particular focus on life cycle impacts and supply chain management, which takes the scope of LEED one step deeper into the manufacturing process. This change influences the information designers are requesting from manufacturers. Architects are requesting more rigorous information  by asking them to collect information from outside of their localized manufacturing processes. In the past, self-declared recycled content and bare bones regional declarations were enough to contribute to LEED  credits, but under LEED v4 this is no longer the case. The information being requested will take time to collect, but manufacturers looking to stay ahead of the curve have started, or in some cases have already completed, this process.

Now that LEED is redefining what makes a material sustainable, less emphasis is being put on a product’s individual attributes. This new emphasis is reflected in the redistribution of points in the Materials & Resources credits. For example, under LEED 2009 there were 2 stand alone credits that concrete masonry could contribute;  recycled content and regional materials.   in LEED v4, recycled content  falls under one new credit, Building Product Disclosure & Optimization – Sourcing Of Raw Materials, and regional materials is not a separate credit, but rather is introduced as a value multiplier that applies to multiple credits. Additionally, there are two additional credits that acknowledge a designer’s use of sustainable products: 1) environmental product declarations (EPDs) and 2) material ingredients. Each credit is worth two points.

Why are these credits important?

According to the LEED credit language, the intent of the credits is “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.” Furthermore, the credit’s intent is to reward project teams for selecting products according to the following criteria:

  • Under the environmental product declarations credit points are awarded when projects use at least 20 different permanently installed produced sourced from at least five separate manufacturers that have issued EPDs. EPDs that are issued for a specific product (Type III EPDs) provide twice as much value as industry-wide (generic) EPDs.
  • Under the sourcing of raw materials credit points are awarded when projects use at least 20 different permanently installed products from at from at least five separate manufacturers that have raw material source and extraction documentation. Alternatively, points can be awarded when products meet at least one responsible extraction practice, such as the use of recycled content or bio-based materials.
  • Under the material ingredients credit points are awarded when projects use at least 20 different permanently installed products sourced from at least five separate manufacturers that report the product’s chemical inventory to at least 0.1% (1000 ppm). One option is for product manufacturers to fully disclose hazards using Health Product Declarations (HPDs) for their products using the HPD Open Standard.

For each of these three credits, a regional multiplier is available. That means that products that are sourced within 100 miles of the project site contribute 200% of their base contributing costs to the credit calculation.

Masonry can contribute to many of these credits in LEED v4. Leading masonry producers like A. Jandris & Sons provide valuable EPDs and HPDs for the products they manufacture.

Heidi Jandris, LEED Green Associate, provides technical and design services for A. Jandris & Sons, Inc., a family owned structural and architectural concrete masonry manufacturer located in Massachusetts. A. Jandris & Sons is the first CMU manufacturer on the East Coast to have 3rd party verified environmental product declarations (EPDs) for each of their mix designs.  Heidi was the Chair of the National Concrete Masonry Association’s (NCMA) EPD Task Group which developed the product category rules for the concrete masonry industry, and is current chair of the NCMA Education Committee.  She grew up immersed in the industry, and earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. | 978.632.0089

 Jennifer Wagner, LEED Green Associate and Vice President of Sustainability at Halifax-based CarbonCure Technologies, addresses architects, engineers and developers. She has helped company licensees issue the first Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and Health Product Declarations (HPD) in the concrete industry. She is a Canadian Standards Association-certified GHG (greenhouse gas) inventory quantifier, LEED Green Associate and sits on the board of directors for the Health Product Declaration Collaborative and formerly the Atlantic Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council. Wagner holds a BSc from McGill University, an MSc in Chemistry and an MBA from Dalhousie University. | 902.442.4020

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