Technical, science-based discipline applied to LEED rating system

A new U.S. Green Building Council and American Chemistry Council initiative aims to ensure the use of sustainable and environmentally protective products in buildings by applying technical and science-based approaches to USGBC’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating program.

“By combining USGBC, a leader of the green building movement, with the scientific know-how of ACC, we can develop a path to stronger, science-based standards that achieve measurable progress in sustainability,” says ACC CEO Cal Dooley. “Modern energy efficiency gains, building safety advances and carbon footprint reductions would not be possible without the products of chemistry. From windows to insulation, adhesives to flooring, chemistry provides solutions that enable the energy efficient and sustainable buildings consumers expect.”

LEED is regularly updated through a rigorous development process that includes public comments, technical review and balloting. USGBC and ACC will work within that framework to incorporate advanced safety, sustainability and life-cycle based approaches to the rating system. Their initiative follows an ACC-spearheaded campaign by the American High Performance Buildings Coalition questioning aspects of the recently unveiled LEED v4, notably a pilot point provision for avoidance of “chemicals of concern.”

The Coalition lobbied federal lawmakers to require agencies such as the General Services Administration to factor the consensus basis behind contract-stipulated green building rating systems. It also assisted in related efforts at the state level.

LEED has facilitated advances in building technologies, integrated design and operating practices, as well as the tremendous growth of the green building sector, which supports or creates 7.9 million jobs across all 50 states and contributes $554 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

The business of chemistry employs nearly 800,000 Americans and supports nearly 25 percent of the U.S. GDP. Chemistry-based plastic building and construction materials saved 467.2 trillion Btu of energy over alternative construction materials—enough energy saved over the course of a year to meet the average annual energy needs of 4.6 million U.S. households. Energy savings attributed to innovations in chemistry, applied to home building practice, prevented nearly 283 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010—equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 50 million passenger vehicles.