How to Approach the Material Ingredients Credit in LEED v4 | material ingredient

How to Approach the Material Ingredients Credit in LEED v4Posted: Apr 2015 Posted by: Mats Inc.


The changes in LEED v4 were introduced to push project teams to meet more stringent requirements and to adapt to new knowledge in the green environment. Those who have attended the Greenbuild conference in past years know that a shift has occurred to focus primarily on transparency. Material and Resources (MR) credit category had one of the biggest changes in LEED and was revamped to move away from the credit points being isolated silos and move toward having a cohesive system to report all aspects of transparency in building materials. This change led to the introduction of the Material Ingredient credit. Due to its revealing nature, this credit has stirred up a lot of controversy. Manufacturers must fully report all ingredients and known hazards in their products to achieve this credit. Not only does the Material Ingredient Credit require them to disclose potential proprietary information and intellectual property, but it also requires extensive time and funding. Manufacturers also fear judgment and loss of competitive advantage as a result. It is especially concerning because ingredient disclosure can be misconstrued when few people in the industry understand chemical components. The challenge then trickles down to the LEED project teams. The pool of products that meet Material Ingredient requirements is not large enough to make this credit easily achievable.


In the 2014 Greenbuild session titled “LEED v4 Lessons Learned”, Susie Westrup of Balfour Beatty Construction, Peter Czerwinski of CH2M Hill and Michael Picone from Google talked about their beta experiences attempting LEED v4 accreditation. None of these project teams were able to achieve any of the MR credits due to lack of available disclosure documents. These beta projects started in 2013 in the early stages of LEED v4 and since then manufacturers have made great strides in product ingredient reporting but it continues to be a challenge. The USGBC offers multiple approved certification and disclosure programs that manufacturers can use to comply with this credit which causes some confusion for LEED project teams. When trying to understand the different programs and how each contributes to this credit, follow the guidelines below.

Material Ingredient Certification and Disclosure Programs

According the USGBC, these are the approved programs for meeting the MR Material Ingredient LEED credits:

HPD- Health Product Declaration- Option 1

HPDHPD is the most widely used and talked about acronym for completing the Material Ingredients credit. In order to meet the LEED requirements using this credit, the manufacturer must disclose all known hazards for intentional and residual ingredients to 1,000 parts per million (ppm). When looking at your product’s HPD, the minimum residual disclosure of 1,000ppm box should be checked and full disclosure of known hazards should say “yes”. Seeing these 2 boxes checked on the HPD will confirm that the product will comply with the LEED Material Ingredient credit option 1.

Publicly Available Inventory of All ingredients CASRN #- Option 1

This option is self reporting the information that is in the HPD with the CASRN (Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number) numbers for each ingredient. If one of your products has a self declared ingredient list, check to make sure it’s to at least 1,000ppm and lists the CASRN numbers. In some cases, ingredients defined as a trade secret or intellectual property will withhold the name/CASRN number, however, the product manufacturer must disclose the ingredient role, amount and GreenScreen benchmark.

Cradle to Cradle- Options 1 and 2

C2CThe Cradle to Cradle program is an entire sustainable approach to product manufacturing and requires continual improvement. It certifies products based on material health, material reutilization, renewable energy & carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Cradle to Cradle is included because part of this program requires an assessment of toxicity hazards of all product ingredients. If a product is Cradle2Cradle Basic it complies with option 1 of the material ingredient credit. If Silver, Gold or Platinum, it complies with option 2.

GreenScreen Benchmark- Option 2


GreenScreen’s focus is on chemical inventory of a product. Their automated GreenScreen list translator is built into the HPD collaborative tool, which contributes to Option 1 of the MR Material Ingredient credit. For Option 2, manufacturers can either use the GreenScreen list translator to prove the absence of Benchmark 1 hazards, worth 100% of product cost for LEED, or use the full GreenScreen method, worth 150% of cost.



Based on my LEED v4 research and experience this past year, I recommend requesting Material Ingredient documentation from product manufacturers you love and have ongoing relationships with. Manufacturers are in all different phases of releasing documents so communicate timelines early and have patience as they work out the kinks. To achieve this credit, 20 different products from a minimum of 5 manufactures are required, so talk to all product channels from ceilings to floors in order to meet these minimums. The definition of a product is a permanently installed fixture that serves a unique purpose. For example, botanol flooring would count as a different product from LVT, yet 2 colors of the same LVT flooring would only count as one product.

Another approach that the USGBC suggests is searching databases that have streamlined products that meet these requirements. They recommend using HPD Collaborative transparency community, GIGA, Green Circle and GreenSpec as tools to find products that meet option 1 of the material ingredient credit. And to check out Green Wizard, The Pharos project, and Cradle to Cradle for products to meet option 2. All of these sources prove to be great places to find products that have already completed the Material Ingredient requirements.



Categories: Architect & Designer News, Sustainability

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