Those products could include heat-reflecting roofing membranes, PVC piping and foam insulation — all of which promote energy efficiency, said Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets at the American Chemistry Council, one of the trade groups opposing the proposed standards.
LEED is based on a 100-point formula, and the more credits a project earns in several categories including sustainability and water efficiency, the higher a rating it earns on the LEED scale — platinum (80 points), followed by gold (60-79 points), silver (50-59 points), and certified (40-49 points). LEED is voluntary, but it has been adopted by the GSA and other government agencies as the required building standard for new construction, and about a third of LEED projects are government-owned.
The Green Building Council, which updates LEED standards periodically, last revised them in 2009. The council was slated to vote on an update June 1, but pushed the vote back a year after 22,000 responses poured in from architects, engineers and other council members during public comment periods, said council Policy Director Lane Burt.
“We extended the development timeline because we’ve been getting lots of feedback,” Burt said. “[Our members] need more time to absorb the changes being proposed.”
The council will open up an unprecedented fifth round of public comment in October.
Christman, of the chemistry council, said the coalition of trade groups — which includes the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The Vinyl Siding Institute — is particularly concerned about one proposed change outlined in a pilot credit program. Pilot credits are temporary and only apply to some projects. They’re in a pilot testing stage, and can either become part of LEED and get voted on, or removed if the council finds them ineffective.
School, retail construction draw attention
Pilot Credit 54 applies to the construction of schools, retail, data centers and other projects. It is meant to increase the use of materials that disclose chemical ingredients and reduce the concentration of chemical contaminants by encouraging builders to use products that contain below a certain level of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, carcinogens, polyvinyl chloride and other substances.
But it puts arbitrary restrictions on the use of common building materials such as crystal silica, which is used in concrete, and wood dust and titanium dioxide, which are used in white paints and roofing membranes, Christman said.