December 2004 Newsletter

Getting Your Products Specified on LEED Projects

**** The 4specs Perspective

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) rating system. LEED is most likely to be used on governmental buildings and schools and by large corporations wanting to demonstrate responsible building programs. San Francisco recently announced ordinance that all new city projects must meet the LEED Silver standard. - main USGBC website

In addition, some architects want to incorporate LEED standards into projects to design their projects to a higher environmental standard without going through the complete LEED certification process.

LEED is much more than just selecting "green" or recycled materials. USGBC developed LEED to set standards for "green" design including sustainability, site selection, water efficiency, energy usage, material selection and indoor air quality. There are several levels of certification (Gold, Silver, etc.) depending on the number of LEED points realized in the final construction. In addition there are several standards for different types of construction. Here is a link to the USGBC document for new construction as well as the drafts for other construction types:

The LEED documents provide the architect with guidance as to the desired results and a strategy to achieve compliance. A key part of the design, specification and construction process is to document compliance with the claimed LEED point. As you read through the LEED document, you will realize that many of the points are not related to products or architecture, but are engineering design items.

As a manufacturer of products you can help the designer by providing guidance as to how your products contribute to a LEED point. I recommend that your website contain a summary of how your products can contribute. A good example of this is on the Presto Products website. The link below is for a pdf of their LEED brochure
[link now broken]

As you read through the USGBC document you can probably locate sections where your products can influence the building's rating. Your strategy to increase your material sales on LEED-certified projects should be:

1. To understand the LEED certification program and
2. Provide the designer, specifier or LEED consultant with the information they need to select and specify your products in preference to alternative designs or your competitor's products.

I recommend your website home page has a link to a LEED compliance document similar to the Presto Products link above. You may want to pay a LEED consultant to review the LEED applicability for your products and help you better present your information. Nine of the SCIP members are LEED certified according to the SCIP website. This would be a good starting spot for a LEED and specification review.

Let's look at some of the LEED points and how your products can be used.

Sustainable Sites: Stormwater Management
While many of the LEED credits go for the design, the use of a products such as Presto Products or Invisible Structures can help the designer provide for overflow parking (say for a stadium) on grass while providing for stormwater infiltration by reducing the amount of hard surfaces. Providing online design data for your products helps the civil engineer or landscape architect with their certification.

Sustainable Sites: Light Pollution
Show how your light fixtures contribute to meeting the LEED requirements.

Water Use Reduction - 20% reduction
Show how your products can help achieve a 20% reduction in total water usage. Waterless urinals and recycling of greywater are ways to achieve the 20%. The designer many want to consider reuse of stormwater and greywater for non-potable uses and develop systems to do that.

Resource Reuse - 5% and 10%
Recycled Content - 5% and 10% (post-consumer and ½ post industrial)
The architect or LEED consultant will develop a list of materials used on the project that contribute to the reuse or recycled content. On a $10 million project, the portion attributed to materials (as compared to labor) may be 30% or $3 million. A 10% content would be $300,000. You need to be aware of your product's contribution to the recycled percentage, not just that your company uses recycled materials. Products with a small dollar value contribution will probably not be specified for LEED points due to the designer's time need to meet the certification requirements.

For example, locks and lock sets are typically 1% of the total construction budget or $100,000 in this case. If the recycled content of the lock sets is 30%, this would be a $30,000 contribution to the LEED requirement and may be considered for specification and inclusion for recycled content.

Regional Materials: 20% manufactured within 500 miles of the project
It is important for the specifier to know where the materials are produced for their project. If you produce your products in Reno, Nevada, and your competitor produces in Phoenix, on projects in the San Francisco area your products would be specified as a preference, and in depending upon the exact project location in the Los Angeles Basin the reverse would be true. (Reno is 520 miles from Los Angeles according to one resource.) A competitor in Fresno CA would be specified for both locations.

Questions and comments are always appreciated.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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