“Material Human Hazard and Exposure Assessment” premiers as LEED pilot credit

Sources: U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

A pilot credit joining the LEED v4 green building rating system encourages project teams and manufacturers or suppliers to assess human health related exposure scenarios for products or materials during their installation/placement and use phases.

“LEED v4 has begun a shift in how we think about health and building materials,” says U.S Green Building Council Chief Product Officer Scot Horst. “We have a focus on transparency and optimization so specifiers can know what they are using and reward innovation. But understanding how a material impacts human health requires a full understanding of hazard and exposure. The new pilot credit is a first step toward evaluating exposure by encouraging product inventories in order to prioritize decision making.”

LEED Pilot Credit—Building Material Human Hazard & Exposure Assessment can reward manufacturers or suppliers who perform assessments that can serve as a basis for developing products and materials designed to minimize life cycle human health impacts. Such assessments, USGBC officials note, can in turn be an important consideration for project principals weighing alternative building products or materials.

By requiring exposure to be considered during product development or material formulation, the pilot credit begins to make linkages between the product’s ingredient inventory and hazard assessment required by the existing Materials Ingredients credit and performance testing required by LEED Low Emitting Materials credits. The Hazard & Exposure pilot continues USGBC’s work to advance rating system practitioners’ knowledge and understanding of products and materials used to build and operate facilities. Credit developers’ ultimate aim is that project teams have a full and complete picture of building materials and products, enabling transparent, informed decisions around important attributes of offices, homes, schools and other structures.

USGBC crafted the pilot credit in conjunction with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) as part of a partnership established in 2014 to expand supplier/manufacturer and specifier collaboration; leverage scientific expertise; and, make LEED a more effective tool to deliver positive economic, environmental and social outcomes.

“ACC welcomes the credit, which rewards products that have undergone rigorous and scientific hazard and exposure assessments,” says Vice President Debra Phillips. “Through Responsible Care, ACC members support scientific and systematic approaches to managing and continuously improving the safety of their products. Members also undertake third-party verification of their systems and approaches. This new credit brings such a scientific, systematic and third-party validated approach to the important issue of health.”

To fulfill the credit requirements, LEED projects must submit product documentation from manufacturers, including calculations and assumptions, to GBCI, the third-party verification body for LEED. This information will be combined with data from other ongoing pilots and credits and synthesized by USGBC and GBCI to inform technical development of the pilot and other materials-related LEED credits. All USGBC members are eligible to submit pilot credits for consideration; pilot credits are evaluated based on applicability to the goals of LEED, relative impact compared to other LEED credits or pilot credits, technical rigor and achievability.

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