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Opportunities for Vinyl Products in LEED Buildings

May 2013

Many LEED-rated buildings have been built with PVC/vinyl products.  Although some proposed and pilot LEED credits have disqualified use of vinyl, and the newly passed LEED v4 poses additional challenges, vinyl products do fit into LEED buildings.

Some vinyl products are found in LEED buildings because they are the standard for their application (e.g., PVC-jacketed wire, electrical boxes).  Others belong because they contribute to building assemblies that qualify for credits.  LEED rating systems do not give credit for use of products but rather for use of design solutions that achieve LEED objectives – reduced energy use, reduced water use, etc.  The strategy for a manufacturer interested in the LEED market is to make products that are part of these design solutions.

Below is a list of credits in LEED v4 for which PVC products likely help achieve the design solution.  Achieving some of these credits would require partnering with the building designer and perhaps other suppliers because the credit is tied to a percentage of all building products.  (Note: Credit numbers listed below are associated with the LEED-New Construction (NC) rating system.  Numbers may change from one LEED rating system to another.)

Credit (New Construction rating system) PVC/Vinyl Application
Heat Island Reduction (SSc5)—possible 2 points
Use roofing materials that meet certain SRI requirements, or install a vegetated roof
Roofing membranes
Rainwater management (SSc4)— possible 3 points
Manage on-site the runoff from the developed site using low-impact and green infrastructure
Rain barrels, other products to manage rain water
Outdoor water use reduction (WEp1)—required
Reduce the project’s landscape water requirement by at least 30% from the calculated baseline for the site’s peak watering month.  Reductions must come from plant species selection and irrigation system efficiency, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Water Budget Tool.
Piping
Outdoor water use reduction (Wec1)—possible 2 points
Reduce the project’s landscape water requirement by at least 50% from the calculated baseline for the site’s peak water month.  Reductions must first come through plant species selection and irrigation system efficiency as calculated in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Water Budget Tool.  Additional reductions beyond 30% may be achieved using any combination of efficiency, alternative water sources, and smart scheduling technologies.
Piping
Indoor water use reduction (Wep2)—required
Reduce aggregate water consumption by 20% from the baseline, following prescribed calculations on volumes and flow rates.
Piping
Indoor water use reduction (Wec2)—possible 6 points
Further reduce fixture and fitting water use from the calculated baseline in WE Prerequisite Indoor Water Use Reduction.
Piping
Building-level energy metering (EAp3)—Required
Install new or use existing building-level energy meters or submeters that can be aggregated to provide total building energy consumption
Wiring and other components
Optimize energy performance (EAc2), Option 2. Prescriptive compliance: ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guide
Implement and document compliance with applicable recommendations and standards for the appropriate ASHRAE 50% Advanced Energy Design Guide and climate zone for the building envelope, glazing: fenestration (1 point).
Window profiles
Environmental Product Declarations (MRc 2)—1 point
Use at least 20 different permanently installed products sourced from at least five different manufacturers that make publicly available:
  1. 1. a critically reviewed life-cycle assessment conforming to ISO 14044 that has at least a cradle to gate scope, or
  2. 2. an Environmental Product Declaration which conforms to ISO 14025, 14040, 14044, and EN 15804 or ISO 21930 and has at least a cradle to gate scope.
Products with LCAs or EPDs.
Note 20- product requirement.
Sourcing of Raw Materials (MRc 3), Option 2. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and other programs—1 point)
Use products that meet at least one of several listed responsible-extraction criteria for at least 25%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed building products in the project.  Among the criteria:
  • Products purchased from a manufacturer that participates in an extended producer responsibility program or is directly responsible for one.
Products with EPRs such as take-back programs
Building Material-Ingredient Disclosure and Optimization (MRc 4), Option 1. Material Ingredient Reporting (1 point)
Use at least 20 different permanently installed products from at least five different manufacturers that use one of several listed programs to demonstrate the chemical inventory of the product to at least 0.1% (1000 ppm), including:
  • Manufacturer Inventory. The manufacturer has published a complete content inventory for product ingredients identified by name and Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number (CASRN). Materials defined as trade secret or intellectual property but must disclose role, amount and GreenScreen benchmark, as defined in GreenScreen v1.2.
  • Health Product Declaration. The end use product has a published, complete Health Product Declaration with full disclosure of known hazards in compliance with the Health Product Declaration open Standard.
Products with inventories or HPDs.
Note 20- product requirement.
Building Material-Ingredient Disclosure and Optimization (MRc 4), Option 2. Material Ingredient Optimization (1 point)
Use products that document their material ingredient optimization using one of several pathways for at least 25%, by cost, of the total value of permanently installed products in the project.  Among the options:
  • GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmark. Products that have fully inventoried chemical ingredients to 100 ppm that have no Benchmark 1 hazards.
  • International Alternative Compliance Path – REACH Optimization.  End use products and materials that do not contain substances that meet REACH (Authorization or Candidate) criteria for substances of very high concern.  product contains no ingredients listed on the REACH Authorization or Candidate list, value at 100% of cost.
Products with Green Screen (GS) or REACH analyses.  CAUTION:  A full GS assessment would reportedly disqualify PVC, but an alternative option is to use the GS List Translator, which does not deselect PVC.  (See “Is PVC Banned in LEED v4?” Aug. 27, 2013, BuildingGreen.com).