Guide Helps Customers Navigate LEED v4 Requirements

Firestone Building Products Co. LLC has released a guide to help customers navigate its green products for LEED v4 requirements. Spanning the full portfolio of green products—from energy-saving polyiso insulations to reflective TPO membranes and vegetative roofing solutions—the guide specifies how Firestone products can help minimize environmental impact while maximizing building value. It’s the first time the company has created an all-inclusive resource for products that earn LEED credits. The guide also contains a quick-reference page that can be separated for on-the-go access. Download the guide at bit.ly/2gElzY0.

RCMA, NSF International Create Roof Coating Materials PCR

The Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) and NSF International have created a product category rule (PCR) for roof coating materials. PCRs enable product environmental information to be more transparent and useful to the marketplace. Products covered in this PCR include fluid-applied and adhered coatings used for roof maintenance or roof repair, or as a component of a roof covering system or roof assembly. 
 
Based on international environmental management guidelines (ISO 14025), a PCR defines how to conduct a life cycle assessment for a particular product group and what to include in the resulting report. A life-cycle assessment measures inputs, outputs and environmental impacts of a product across its lifespan. The environmental product declaration (EPD) is the third-party-verified report that explains the data generated from a life cycle assessment. What is included in the EPD is also defined by the PCR.

The NSF International National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS) utilized an open consultative process to develop the PCR with participation from an expert panel of RCMA members, suppliers, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and end users.  RCMA promotes the benefits of roof coatings and represents manufacturers of asphaltic and solar reflective roof coatings as well as suppliers to the roof coatings industry. 

“This product category rule developed by RCMA and NSF International provides our industry a needed guideline for calculating and reporting the environmental attributes of roof coatings,” says Jim Kirby, executive director of RCMA. “The subsequent life cycle analyses developed by our members using the PCR can provide a basis for improvement to enable reductions in environmental impacts over time. We look forward to the positive impact this will have on the industry and those seeking more sustainable building products.”

“As a manufacturer participating in the PCR development, we support our industry in providing transparent and science-based information to our customers,” says Douglas P. Mazeffa, environmental project manager at Sherwin Williams. “Our company is committed to helping customers make informed, environmentally-based purchasing decisions.”
 
“Industries benefit from NSF International’s standards development process that was used to develop the PCR for roof coating materials,” states Jessica Slomka, manager of the NSF International National Center for Sustainability Standards. “By engaging RCMA members and other stakeholders, we help ensure the environmental impacts in the life cycle of a product are represented. The result is a defined set of rules that enable comparative data to be gathered and reported in a standardized fashion. This is crucial in helping builder’s source products that meet their environmental goals.”

Verified environmental product declarations (EPDs) as defined by this PCR may help building projects qualify for points through the LEED v4 Material and Resource credits and comply with the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).   

RCMA Updates Reflective Roof Coatings and LEED White Paper

The Washington, D.C.-based Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association has updated its reflective roof coatings and LEED white paper, originally issued by the Reflective Roof Coatings Institute (RRCI) in 2012. (RCMA and RRCI announced their merger in early 2015.)

The white paper explores the role of reflective roof coatings in the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Version 4 green-building program with emphasis on new building structure, existing building operation and maintenance, and LEED v4 prerequisites and credit requirements.

The white paper intends to provide understanding for stakeholders about the cost-effective contributions of roof coatings and the environmentally sound new building and renovation projects that use LEED v4. The white paper also serves as a resource, which outlines the benefits that reflective roof coatings provide to buildings, businesses and the environment. The findings in the LEED white paper apply to any reflective roof coatings that are LEED-compliant.

Bob Kobet of The Kobet Collaborative, Pittsburgh, is the author of the LEED white paper updates, as well as RRCI’s original white paper. Members of the RCMA Reflective Roof Coatings Institute, RCMA Technical Affairs Committee, and RCMA Codes and Standards Task Force collaborated on the project to update and revise the white paper to incorporate LEED’s new version.

The COP21 agreement presents a major opportunity for architects around the globe to provide leadership in designing buildings and communities that help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Its call for capacity building for adaptation and mitigation of climate change represents exactly what the architecture profession excels at providing,” says Russell Davidson, FAIA, AIA president, as the COP21 meeting of the United Nations Climate Change conference concluded.

The new “Reflective Roof Coatings and LEED v4” white paper is published online on RCMA’s website.

EPDs Provide a New Level of Environmental Transparency to Building Products

The sustainability movement has impacted the building industry in many ways. Today’s architects, owners and occupants have much greater expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in. Part of this expectation is focused on the components that make up the building. For example, did the wood come from responsibly harvested forests? Is the metal made of recycled material? Do the paint and interior finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is developed by applying a Product Category Rule, or PCR. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others.

An EPD is developed by applying a Product Category Rule. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others. IMAGE: Quantis US

Information technology has encouraged and facilitated this increased demand for in-depth data about building components and systems. People have become accustomed to being able to gather exhaustive information about the products they buy through extensive labeling or online research.

In response to the growing demand for environmental product information, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs.

It’s a term now commonly heard, but what are they? EPDs are often spoken in the same breath as things like LCA (life-cycle assessment), PCRs (product category rules) and many other TLAs (three-letter acronyms). The fact is they are all related and are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building.

“An EPD is a specific document that informs the reader about the environmental performance of a product,” explains Sarah Mandlebaum, life-cycle analyst with Quantis US, the Boston-based branch of the global sustainability consulting firm Quantis. “It balances the need for credible and thorough information with the need to make such information reasonably understandable. The information provided in the document is based on a life-cycle assessment, or LCA, of the product, which documents the environmental impacts of that product from ‘cradle to grave.’ This includes impacts from material production, manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of the product. An EPD is simply a standardized way of communicating the outcomes of such an assessment.”

The concept of product LCAs has been around for some time and has often been looked at as a way of determining the sustainability of a particular product by establishing the full scope of its environmental footprint. The basic idea is to closely catalog everything that goes into a product throughout its entire life. That means the energy, raw materials, and emissions associated with sourcing its materials, manufacturing it, transporting it, installing it and, ultimately, removing and disposing of it. In the end, an LCA results in a dizzying amount of data that can be difficult to translate or put in any context. EPDs are one way to help provide context and help put LCA data to use.

“The summary of environmental impact data in the form of an EPD can be analogous to a nutrition label on food,” says Scott Kriner, LEED AP, technical director of the Metal Construction Association (MCA), Chicago. “There is plenty of information on the label, but the information itself is meaningless unless one is focused on one area. An LCA determines the water, energy and waste involved in the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation to a job site and the reclamation of waste at the end of the useful life of a product. With that data in hand, the various environmental impact categories can be determined and an EPD can be developed to summarize the environmental impact information.”

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USGBC Releases Annual Ranking of Top 10 States for LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual ranking of the Top 10 States in the nation for LEED with the state of Illinois placing first.

The per-capita list highlights states throughout the country that are making impactful strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources; save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and create a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

“Every story about a green building is a story about people,” says Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “USGBC’s annual recognition of the Top 10 States for LEED goes beyond gross square feet or number of projects and factors in LEED’s potential in a given state to be part of the daily life of the state’s residents. This per-capita approach tells a great story about how LEED has become an important benchmark in the transformation of the nation’s built environment. LEED-certified buildings and the innovations they have driven contribute substantially to our national economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the communities where they are found. We commend the business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals in each of these states for making the commitment to create a healthier, more sustainable future.

“Illinois has so many committed business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals who are using LEED to transform their built environment, producing many innovative spaces that will improve the health of our shared planet, as well as the health of the people who use those buildings every day,” adds Fedrizzi.

The per-capita list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2014. Illinois certified 174 projects representing 42,457,254 square feet of real estate, or 3.31 square feet per resident, in 2014.

USGBC calculates the list using per-capita figures as a measure of the human element of green building, allowing for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and, accordingly, number of overall buildings.

“Illinois has long been a green building trend setter where companies have made sustainability part of their business plan,” says Brian Imus, executive director of USGBC Illinois Chapter. “As a result, Illinois is now positioned to be a leading exporter of sustainable technology and design to emerging markets where demand for LEED is growing exponentially.”

A sample of notable projects certified in Illinois in 2014 include:

There are more than 487 USGBC member organizations with a headquarters in Illinois and more than 10,273 LEED credential professionals across the state.

The full ranking of the top 10 states includes:

 Rank  State  Projects certified in 2014  Square feet LEED certified in 2014  Per-capita square footage
 
1
 
Illinois
 
174
 
42,457,254
 
3.31
 
2
 
Colorado
 
102
 
15,816,498
 
3.15
 
3
 
Maryland
 
132
 
15,583,423
 
2.70
 
4
 
Virginia
 
150
 
18,617,712
 
2.33
 
5
 
Massachusetts
 
99
 
14,662,950
 
2.20
 
6
 
Hawaii
 
30
 
2,657,808
 
1.95
 
7
 
California
 
517
 
69,762,936
 
1.87
 
8
 
Georgia
 
87
 
17,748,781
 
1.83
 
9
 
Minnesota
 
39
 
9,511,684
 
1.79
 
10 (tied)
 
Arizona
 
82
 
11,152,201
 
1.74
 
10 (tied)
 
New York
 
250
 
33,691,209
 
1.74
 
Not ranked
 
Washington D.C.
 
102
 
17,716,622
 
29.44

(Washington is not ranked, because it is a federal district, not a state.)

Collectively, 1,662 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified within the top 10 states in 2014, representing 251.7 million square feet of real estate. Worldwide, 4,502 projects were certified in 2014, representing 675.7 million square feet.

More than 26,600 projects representing 3.6 billion square feet of space have been LEED certified to date, with another 42,000 projects representing 8.8 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification. USGBC launched LEED v4, the newest version of the rating system, in the fall of 2013. The latest version continues to raise the bar for the entire green building industry, which Forbes Magazine projects could be worth up to $960 billion globally by 2023. LEED v4 features increased technical rigor; new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and midrise residential projects; and a simplified submittal process supported by a robust and intuitive technology platform.

USGBC and other Code-, Regulation- and Guideline-setting Bodies Are Increasingly Working with Industry

Earlier this year, the USGBC announced a 16-month extension to register products under LEED 2009, prior to the implementation of LEED v4 on Oct. 31, 2016. The action set off speculation, both off and online, about what caused USGBC to act with some calling for a more in-depth explanation for the delay. But the real reason, most likely, was simply stated in USGBC’s own press release: In a survey taken at GreenBuild in late October, 61 percent of respondents—almost two-thirds of those polled—said they are “not ready” or “unsure” if they were ready to pursue LEED v4 and required additional time to prepare. USGBC said it was also getting the same message from the international community.

The response to the USGBC action tended to fall into two camps: those who said the council was caving to the pressure of industry and those who said USGBC was taking a reasonable action after having put forward a complicated, unworkable and unneeded ratings system. Based on my extensive work with code-setting and regulatory bodies, I see a third option emerging, one that bodes well for the environment and the building sector.

During the past year, as part of my job as associate executive director of the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), I have attended and testified at more than 20 hearings held by a broad range of groups, including the IGCC, SCAQMD (the South Coast Air Quality Management District, overseeing much of Southern California) and ASHRAE. Frequently, I have been accompanied by representatives of our member companies, Firestone, Carlisle and Johns Manville. And often I have been joined by members of industry groups, such as the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition.

Collectively, we have offered our findings on a range of issues that are critical to our industry, such as the importance of climate in the choice of roofing color and the need to preserve the builder’s choice when deciding on reflectivity options and the unique qualities of ballasted roofing that should be considered in any code-setting activities. Our testimony is based on meticulous research, as well as on empirical evidence and firsthand knowledge gained from years of experience in the building industry. Increasingly, we find that we are listened to and that our interaction with code-setting and regulatory bodies is a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas, rather than an adversarial give-and-take.

For instance, we worked closely with the Ozone Transport Commission in its efforts to achieve federally mandated clean air standards in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Initially, we pointed out that their proposed regulations would have mandated the use of low-VOC products that were in development but not yet available in the marketplace. And we also demonstrated that the roofing industry would need ample time to train roofing contractors in the use of these new products. We worked with regulators, state by state, and developed a mutually agreed upon seasonal approach. While the process is still ongoing, many state regulators expressed their gratitude for the advice we offered and the expertise we brought to the table.

I am certainly not privy to the inner workings of the USGBC. But their extension of the deadline for the implementation of LEED v4 seems to be part of a trend: The groups who are drawing up codes, regulations, and ratings systems are increasingly working with the building industry and the end results are based on good science and good sense.

NRCA Outlines Roofing-related Provisions of LEED v4

In an effort to help the roofing industry become familiar with the roofing-related provisions of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Version 4, NRCA has released LEED v4: Roofing-Related Provisions. It is intended to provide roofing professionals a broad overview of the roofing-related credits and prerequisites for LEED’s Building Design and Construction and Building Operations and Maintenance categories. In addition, a listing of typical LEEDrelated submittals and what roofing related provisions have changed in LEED v4 versus previous LEED editions also are included. For more information, visit NRCA.net.